Blog

Close UPs

A deeper look at the work and workplaces of some of
the brilliant, creative people who we collaborate with.

Kelly Shea & Brendan Banks Vancrafted & Vancrafted Studios

From a quaint New England studio along the Rhode Island coast, bathed in natural light, the power-couple Kelly Shea and Brendan Banks have built themselves a world which most creatives only ever dream of. They've built a world which allows ample time to create self-initiated work, the flexibility to travel without hesitation, and the ability to choose the people with whom they work and surround themselves.

At 25 years old, the two had ambitiously carved a place for themselves in the NYC creative world. Kelly was working in advertising, set design, and styling - shuffling between her corporate office and freelance work while Brendan was sharing a studio space with us in Brooklyn, where we personally watched his never-ending hustle as a freelance director, cinematographer and editor. After a few years, the pace, the price, and the stress of New York started to wear them both out so they made the jump and decided to give it all up.

Although Kelly was hoping to find somewhere with more space and less roommates, she found herself living in a crammed 1984 Volkswagen van, traveling the country with little-to-no time to herself - except that she now had all the space in the world to explore, and no schedule to adhere to. She and Brendan now had the time to create the kind of content they wanted to create everyday.

Maybe It's Just Good To Be Friends With Other Entrepreneurs.

They made a rough map of some places that they wanted to explore, and set out to meet with other ethically-minded people who inspired them. They finally had an excuse to meet the people behind these small lifestyle brands that they wanted to work for, but rather than going in with a big pitch for how they could help, they quickly learned that it was often more beneficial to have no objective other than meeting the people behind the brands they loved. Each step of the way, they documented and shared their story with a series of stunning films and photographs.

Photograph above by Read McKendree

Their time on the road kickstarted their new lifestyle and helped them identify the things they wanted out of a creative lifestyle. They loved waking up in new places, but longed for a place to come home to. After half a year in the van, they decided to live and work from a new base in Westerly, RI with a short bike ride between home, work and the ocean where they decided to learn how to surf.

You Can't Get Away From Any Project If You Can See Your Desk From The Kitchen.

With the community they met while living in a 95sqft home they've continued to grow their lifestyle brand, Vancrafted. They are now inspiring others to take the plunge and equipping them with the knowledge and gear to tell their story of life on the road. Although they aren't currently exploring the country every day, they still spend a good chunk of time traveling for client-based work. When a media company called asking if they could be in Vermont the next day to interview Senator Bernie Sanders, they packed up their gear and jumped in the van. The work they did that day led to a 10-part series including an interview with the Vice President.

We recently asked Brendan and Kelly to join us back in New York to help us tell the story of our design for a modern medical practice that we had just completed. A few days later, we were reviewing rough edits of a video that brilliantly showcased the architecture,

interior, and brand design that we created for the space. Their video is able to recreate the feeling of walking through the space while simultaneously showing off some of our favorite details of the project. (You can see more about the doctors office design HERE.)

As storytellers, we look up to Brendan and Kelly. Although they tell a different story, one about life and adventure, it's our job to tell a story too. We need to be able to articulate our visions and ideas of how a space will feel to a client, a community, or a committee before a single wall is ever built. There is a lot to learn from Kelly and Brendan about how to articulate those architectural concepts, but more than anything they remind us to keep the idea of humanity in our stories.

The spaces we create will ultimately be lived, learnt, or born in. They are places where real people will have the best meal they've ever eaten, or code their new app, or see the most beautiful piece of art they've ever seen. It's our job to tell a little bit of that story before the first coat of paint has gone on a wall and Vancrafted helps remind us of that.