BlackSwan Studio

February 22, 2024

Montreal-based interior design firm Espace 313 has created a monochromatic and graphic studio, enhanced with elegant lighting, for tattooists at BlackSwan. 

Situated in the heart of Montreal, Canada BlackSwan tattoo studio is a hub for inked artists to congregate in the unassuming destination that presents a unique character.

BlackSwan is designed by Espace 313 as a bespoke environment imbued with unapologetic elegance. “In an era of increasing tattoo democratisation since the beginning of the century, as well as a desire for personal affirmation and ownership of one’s own body, the tattoo salon offering has continued to grow, with a desire to differentiate itself from the sometimes-intimidating appearance typically associated with these places,” says Gatline Artis, owner and lead designer at Espace 313. “It is in this perspective that the client approached us with the ambition to reinvent the traditional image of the tattoo salon, favouring a soft and refined aesthetic.”

Utilising the existing space, the team added contrasting conceptual interventions merged with a contemporary artistic spirit. Espace 313 wanted to showcase raw and distinctive materiality throughout.

Upon entering, the blend of materials and textures sets the tone for the studio. A plaster covered reception desks draws your attention before revealing an enigmatic metal sculpture that rises in front of a delicate white veil that filters soft light. Hanging above the reception desk is Michael Anastassiades’ Mobile Chandelier 9 fixture. The delicate pieces hang beautifully balanced in an arrangement of linear tubes, geometric lighting sources, reflective surfaces, and counterbalancing weights. They rotate freely, creating an ever-changing lighting configuration.

Taking inspiration from a tattoo on pale skin, the team aspired to integrate distinctive dark elements onto a bright canvas, and ultimately using the element of contrast as a pillar of the design concept.

At the heart of the project is the welcoming lounge. Furniture takes on curved forms and a splash of plum colour is woven into the space, which adds a touch of “vivacity and contrasts with the vegetation already present”. &Tradition’s Formakami pendants, by Jaime Hayon, cluster above the seating area, reinforcing the curvature forms of the furniture. The pendants are a contemporary expression of the traditional Asian lanterns, hand crafted with ivory white rice paper and black stained oak accents.

The lounge area is bathed in an abundance of natural light, but the centrepiece of the tattooing space is a large sculptural light installation, which is “subtly evoking the unfolding of a swan’s wings and echoing the studio’s graphic identity”. The black Vega Minor fixtures used to create this installation, by Kuzco, are a diminutive square linear profile that envelops and radiates a soft uniform light, and again adds to the monochromatic scheme of the space.

Taking this minimalist approach in design goes against the typical aesthetic of tattoo studios. The clean lines and tones give an impression of sterility and cleanliness, and a lack of decoration on the walls and non-customisation of workstations was a deliberate choice by the owner. Instead of imposing an artist’s identity on the space, an emphasis is solely placed on the artwork created in the tattoo designs.