space create austin designers

A Space to Create

Let the light in—three designers on making spaces for creating

space create austin designers

A Space to Create

Let the light in—three designers on making spaces for creating


Photographs by Wynn Myers

Nora McMillen Burke

Inspired by her love of folk art, native Austinite and painter Nora McMillen Burke applies textile application to paper with her brightly colored and whimsical paintings. “I’m inspired by symbols and archetypal imagery, such as the tree of life, masks, and gods and goddesses. My work attempts to highlight the common themes that connect craft traditions from different cultures,” she says.


  • Leave materials out on a designated area with things they have access to often.
  • Let them see you making things to model a creative practice.
  • Try new materials and encourage the process not the outcome by showing that “mistakes” can turn into happy accidents.

When she and her husband, Cleve, bought a multilevel mid-century home in the Highland Park West neighborhood, Burke knew she wanted a studio, a place where she could create and run art camps for kids in the summers. So after a thoughtful renovation, a colorful studio fit for hosting Camp Canvas was born. “Hosting art lessons and camps has led to my exploring new techniques, and it has kindled my own creativity.”

nora mcmillen burke austin design
Nora McMillen Burke hosts kids art camp, Camp Canvas, in a studio in her
home in Highland Park West. She also paints there.


Will and Alice Fox

will fox alice austin design

The creative duo with model-good looks and warm, welcoming smiles, Will and Alice Fox make the most of every inch of their 830-square-foot home in East Austin’s charming Rosewood neighborhood. Will, the design director for McGuire Moorman Hospitality, and Alice, the creative director of Fox Fox Studio, use their front room, where they are pictured, a multipurpose space for living, dining, playing with their young daughter, and working.


  • Define the objects you really like, or the things that make you feel something when you look at them.
  • Get rid of all the things that detract, or don’t directly enhance the above.
  • Design and consider the space between objects.

Will says: “It gets great light, so I can lay on the sofa and look out the window into the big pecan tree canopy in our front yard. I often sketch here, and make models for design projects, as well as have meals and spend time with my family.”

will fox alice austin design
As the design director for McGuire Moorman Hospitality, Will Fox, a Yale grad,
designed this space for Outdoor Voices.


Avalon McKenzie

avalon mckenzie austin design

From her light-filled studio, Avalon McKenzie has designed catalogs for Free People, created beautiful hand-lettering for Victoria’s Secret, and painted for her own enjoyment. By day she works as a Global Senior Designer for Whole Foods Market, where she just wrapped art directing Whole Foods’ holiday campaign. On weekends, she can usually be found jumping between pen and paper and the computer in her minimalist-chic Hyde Park home.


  • Maximize your space with shelving, and use the walls!
  • Make sure you have the right furniture for your work style. I have a large table for drawing and painting and a smaller desk with my computer and scanner.
  • Merchandise your art supplies. There’s nothing more tempting than an art store. I organize my supplies by color and use old Diptique candle glasses to hold all sorts of pens and brushes.

“I think having the right tools, and being able to quickly experiment, makes all the difference,” she says. “This room just has good energy. Even though it’s a modest space, it’s one that I love spending time in.” For more info on McKenzie and her work, visit

avalon mckenzie austin design
Avalon McKenzie, a global senior designer for Whole Foods, at home in her studio where she paints pieces like these boots.

Read more from the Arts Issue | November 2017

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