Where I Work: Shanan Campanaro of Eskayel

We’ve had a thing for Eskayel for years and our love continues to grow as their ethereal collections do. At the helm of the Brooklyn-based furnishings brand is Shanan Campanaro, whose dreamy watercolor-like designs feature soothing repetitive patterns that are nothing short of hypnotic. She just recently moved her offices into a new space that the team tackled as a project, giving it the Eskayel stamp and making it look like an inspiring place to work. In this month’s Where I Work, Campanaro gives us a look at the brand-new Eskayel headquarters and insight into how she makes it all happen.


What is your typical work style?

First I have to clean everything up and off my desk – then I bring out my painting board and make sure I have a couple solid hours of undisturbed time to paint. I am pretty much a day time worker – I like working first thing when I get to the office. I can work into the night if I have to but daylight is preferred. If I am working on the computer I still try to keep it during office hours unless I have some deadline I have to meet. But, usually I plan ahead so that I never have to work overtime. I am super organized and always plan ahead. Disorder and haphazard messes drive me crazy.


What’s your studio/work environment like?

It’s very clean and organized. I think the first thing I do when I get to the office every morning is straighten everything. And yes we have a studio dog named Kaya. We play music and chat, but we all work really hard and are often pretty quiet. We always have music playing.


How is your office organized/arranged?

Since we just moved into a store front we divided the office in two sections – the front is a showroom displaying our fabric, wallpapers and rugs with a lot of wall space to hang things and shelves and racks to display everything and the back is our work area with all our desks and storage. The two areas are divided by a large custom color blocked counter built by Dane Co. for us. It creates a beautiful forward facing wall that hides our desks and office stuff from the showroom area – keeping it clean looking. It’s also a large 3’ deep x 20’ long surface we can use to work on and work with clients, and on the office side it’s all open shelving where we keep all of our office supplies, packing materials and everything that would make the office look cluttered.


All of our desks are in the back half of the office near the door to the deck outside. Olivia sits at a tall desk on one side that connects with the center counter because she needs space to spread out and handle all of our sample orders and mail. Nick sits on the opposite wall as Olivia and deals with a lot of production and accounting and sales. In the center are two large desks arranged in a giant square, one end is my desk and on two other sides are Briana and Madison who assist me creatively and also help deal with customers and orders.


How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?

We moved in in June, but we didn’t really get finished with the building and decorating until September. Before that we worked in a large live/work loft space that used to be an architect’s office. It was built in 1905 and still has its original tin ceilings, pine floors and giant bay window. It’s only two blocks away from our new office and Nick and I still live there – with Kaya.



If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?

Since its brand new I am pretty happy with it! The one thing we don’t have yet is a custom platform that will match our center counter and will provide an elevated platform to display rugs and furniture and will also provide storage inside the platform for in stock rugs. We should be getting this soon!



Is there an office pet?

YES! KAYA! She is 12, I have had her since before I started Eskayel and before I met Nick. She has been there through everything ☺


Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?

YES! My favorites range from Clutchy Hopkins to Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra to Tame Impala to Johny Osborn to A Tribe Called Quest to Pavarotti to Rhianna to Jimi Hendrix to Tommy Guerrero. It’s a mixed bag – we are all over the place. And trying new stuff all the time from Britney’s new album to the new Pirouettes.

How do you record ideas?

Screen shot or write myself an email and flag it.


Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now? 

We do – and right now it has the inspiration for the design of our new space. But we are about to start a new board which will have inspiration for our collections next year.


What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?

Sometimes it’s obvious what I should do next and sometimes I just wait until something really comes to me. I need to have a strong feeling about the next thing I do, then it’s like I see what I want the final outcome to look and feel like but I can’t explain it to anyone and I have to do a ton of work to get it out visually. All that work starts with paintings and ends with collage and color work. Then we move on to production which is a different process for each product, rug, wallpaper, fabric and accessories.



What kind of design objects might you have scattered about the space?

Plants, ceramic for plants, and vases for flowers kind of predominate.


Are there tools and/or machinery in your space? 

Not really – just computers.


What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?

WATER + water soluble pigment


Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.

Mac + iPhone camera + iPad + Canon

What design software do you use, if any, and for what?

Adobe Suite and we use Photoshop for collaging scanned artwork and color work and Illustrator and InDesign for cads, production art and pdf presentations, Lightroom for photoshoots.


Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on? 

Right now my most recent favorite project was building out our new showroom which we literally almost did entirely ourselves – sanding and staining cement and building decks is fun! It was also fun to decorate and have custom furniture built.

Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?

That’s a really hard question. I try really hard not to think in those terms. I try to just be grateful for what comes to me and thankful that I can support myself by doing what I love. One thing I am really proud of or that makes me feel like I have definitely progressed is being responsible for my employee’s incomes and health insurance. I feel amazed that my work makes that happen for a small group of people. But really my work wouldn’t exist without them! I also feel really proud that we are able to donate a significant amount to environmental charities and that the amount has been growing over the last three years. It was always my goal in starting my own business to be able to use our profits to make a difference for the world.

Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?

Right now I am working on some new paintings that are more abstract than usual. I was inspired by the recent Paul Klee exhibit at the Met Breuer and about the idea of making non repeating wallpapers and fabrics. I am not sure how it will end up but I am planning on showing this work next year during design week.


What’s on your desk right now?

Unfortunately today my desk looks like crap – Microsoft Word is open so I can write this interview, underneath is an email from a wallpaper installer, I have just drunk a juice press shake, I have a money order from a client who always pays by money order, I have my account book open because I need to do finances and I have a luggage recipe for the luggage we just lost in Casablanca that’s supposed to get delivered today and a jury duty summons!!! EEEK !!

On my right are some swatches I am working with for a new ABC bedding set collaboration, my purse, and empty vase, and a check meant for a friend. ALL WEIRD THINGS! There are also some shells and a beautiful little piece of rug enclosed in a glass cube that my employees got me a few years ago for Christmas.


Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?

Oh man, yes, so much stuff!! TOO much stuff! 3 rugs, dining room chairs upholstered in Eskayel fabric, an upholstered coffee table, curtains in the bedroom, a chair designed in collaboration with Dane Co. – Ikat hangings and a bunch of different pillows, paintings, wallpaper, we also made a whole modular bookshelf system. Up until June our house was also our office so even though it seems like we have so much of our own stuff still – it’s so much better than before – our house was literally taken over by Eskayel – now its thinned out a bit more ☺

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.