I never thought I would be entering this mysterious building near the intersection of 400 South and 400 West. I was intrigued its façade: old brick walls that seemed to stand silently, a door that appeared to never open, and a curious statue of a severed head that rested above the door. No matter how many times I drove past this place, I never thought I would have the chance to experience the gem that’s kept inside, also known as Studio Elevn. This studio was developed with the purpose of being a space for collaboration—a space where any artist can take on any project with support and help from likeminded individuals, whether you’re a photographer, videographer or graphic designer. From the moment I walked in, there was a wave of inspiration that came over me. The entire room looked like a blank canvas, greeting me with different textures, and the sun poured itself through the windows and glistened off of every custom-made metal surface in the room. Just seeing this beautiful space alone made me understand why Studio Elevn founder and president Michael Ori was eager to throw a party not only in honor of the four-year anniversary of Studio Elevn, but also to showcase his brand-new workspace, which they moved into just a few months ago, broadening the range of possibilities for them to achieve their mission.
What caught my eye first was the collection of frameless photographs asymmetrically placed along the wall to my left. They covered the blank, white wall with moments of happiness, inspiration, fun, friendship and artistic collaboration among Ori and a handful of those that came to the event. This wall of photographs was not only a casual display of the work and experiences those at the studio created, but it also depicted the purpose of the event—and the mission of Studio Elevn—in an aesthetic and visual way. I saw pictures of models getting their makeup done, DJs spinning sets and portraits of multiple men and women. Being greeted with these smiles made me feel welcome in a space in which I might otherwise feel like a stranger.
After wandering around the space, having my share of the hummus plate and watching incredible examples of work by Ori Media, which produces compelling, storytelling-centric campaigns via videography, branding, art direction and more. One of their campaigns included “Bones of Contention,” a Western-themed advertisement for SLC-based motorcycle-lifestyle company Johnny Bones. “Tonight is like our first date with the creative community,” Ori says. “There are a lot of firsts happening tonight. It’s the first time we’ve ever shown everything to everybody.” As far as I could tell, the fashionable event attendees took that vulnerability and nurtured it, with nothing but nice things to say—compliments filled the room more than the DJ’s electronic tunes.
Before having such a versatile space, Studio Elevn was a much smaller workplace, limiting the artistic freedom of those who wanted to create. Now, they have a complete, multiple-floor, New York City–style loft, perfect for any size of project or special event. “I wanted this place to be very central to everything. I didn’t want to lose touch with my people and my clients,” Ori says. “Studio Elevn was meant to be a creative workspace, and since there wasn’t enough square footage, everyone had to share everything. It took three years to have enough momentum to have the space we have now.”
Ori gave me a tour of the studio, showing me all of the custom furniture as well as the two motorcycles on display, created by his brother, Jacob Ori. I was also introduced to Damian Garcia, creator of the local brand Johnny Bones. His own motorcycle stood next to a rack of clothing that he helped design, featuring black T-shirts and motorcycle jackets with white, tattoo-inspired prints, tying the urban feel of the place up nicely. As I walked through the different levels of the studio, I noticed that there was a great deal of local artists’ work displayed along the walls, which really brought to light how encouraging the Salt Lake City creative scene is: If there’s anything a local artist loves, it’s supporting the work of another local artist.
I was in awe of the talent I was surrounded by and honored that I got to have such a personal experience with not only the creators, but also their work. “Everyone is very encouraging of personal projects in the space. All new ideas and concepts are welcomed instead of just keeping a strict focus on what the customer wants. Everybody is really happy here,” Ori says, before picking up the star of the show, his Shih Tzu companion with the best hair in town, Lil B.
Throughout the night, I soaked in the positivity and happiness that the space and the event created. It was a time to celebrate and congratulate the hard work of those at Studio Elevn and Ori Media, and everyone that attended recognized the magnificence of the success that the studio exuded. So many possibilities can come out of working in a versatile space like this one. For more information about how to start building the project you’ve always dreamed of, visit studioelevn.com.