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Austin Women Magazine

Austin Women Magazine


Living in one of the most creative cities in the U.S., Austinites are surrounded by artistic inspiration wherever we turn. Whether this creativity is derived from the natural landscape, the downtown development or the thriving artistic community, the homes of Austin’s residents reflect the town’s innovative spirit. 

EAST (East Austin Studio Tour) is a beloved Austin tradition highlighting the bold, the beautiful and the weird from Austin’s finest artists. Expect to see every medium imaginable—painting, drawing, sculpture, pottery, photography, installations and new media, to name a few—and walk away with a greater understanding of the concept, labor and inspiration behind each piece. Additionally, EAST can serve as a place to find that piece of art that will take your home’s design to the desired level, with local, one-of-a-kind conversation pieces that are sure to transform and rejuvenate your personal style.


Whether she’s crafting geometrically shaped jewelry, wall installations or sculptures, Melissa Borrell’s designs are contemporary and funky. Her variety of home designs adds intrigue to any space and takes an ordinary wall or room from a traditionally standard façade to a delightfully unique appearance, great for those who love a modern look.

Austin Woman: How long have you been creating home décor and what prompted you to begin?

Melissa Borrell: My background is in jewelry design, but when I was in graduate school, I started noticing the cool shadows that my jewelry would cast when I was photographing it. I got more and more interested in shadows and wanted to make bigger pieces that would transform a space. The first piece that I made to be installed on the wall was actually a large neckpiece that doubled as a wall piece so that when you were not wearing it, it could be hung on the wall as a graphic element. From that piece, I started designing other laser-cut shapes and making wall installations with those shapes and creating them in different materials—wood, plastic or powder-coated steel.

AW: What inspires you as an artist?

MB: I find myself really attracted to shadows, light, movement, transformation, color. I play with these elements to create work that people interact with and experience in a way that I hope inspires a sense of wonder about the world. I love shadows because they are so ephemeral and mysterious, but yet they are ubiquitous and everyone can relate to them. The first inspiration for the Fantasy Shades was when I was visiting my parents in Texas and noticed how beautiful the shadow from the leaves outside looked on the fabric of the shades in their house. Light, of course, is necessary for shadow, and in thinking about this idea, I came up with the Shadow Bulb idea. I love how from one small object I am able to affect a larger space. The shadows projected from the etched light bulbs transform the room with the flip of a switch.

View Borrell’s work during EAST at Canopy Studios, 916 Springdale Road, Building 1, Studio # 124.

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