Meeting the Client
RedBrick Artspace was commissioned by GreenHeart Yoga & Meditation to design and implement a mural in keeping with their brand spirit and ethos. Founder and owner, Michelle-Karen Leicher recently moved her yoga studio to the Linden area and is in the midst of refurbishing her beautiful home to suit both outdoor and studio yoga sessions. As always, I’m taking you through the design journey, and we can even learn a bit about the client and her vision for her yoga practice. When designing to a brief it’s very important to get to know your client and understand their specific needs.
Q & A with Michelle-Karen Leicher
RedBrick : Where were you trained?
Michelle-Karen : I had the privilege of travelling to Utter Pradesh, India in September 2010 to begin my studies of Yoga. “India Calling” – A lifelong dream to travel to India, even more fulfilled by the gift of Yoga.
RedBrick: How long have you practiced Yoga?
Michelle-Karen - My Yoga practice started in 2005, as a humble student. I was blessed to learn so many valuable disciplines through the practice of Iyengar© Yoga, that I still keep close to me and pass on to my students.
RedBrick: What type of Yoga do you practice?
Michelle-Karen : I teach Hatha Yoga, as per my qualification. But as a teacher, I am always learning new skills and variations and also teach meditation, Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra.
RedBrick: Where was your previous studio?
Michelle-Karen : GreenHeartYoga & Meditation opened its heart [and doors] in August 2018, nestled in ‘horse country’, Kyalami A.H. and has just recently moved to Roosevelt Park.
RedBrick: What do you enjoy about the Linden area?
Michelle-Karen : We were worried that we would not adjust to life in the ‘suburbs’, especially after enjoying the peaceful, reclusiveness of country living for so long. But it has been so easy to settle into life here in the greater Linden/Northcliff area. We really enjoy the convenience of everything. I love the beauty that the area has to offer – trees everywhere. Going to Emmarentia Park every day with our dogs has become a family ritual.
RedBrick: How has Yoga influenced the way you experience your life?
Michelle-Karen : My Yoga experience has brought me to a place in my heart, in my life and in my mind, where I can be in a ‘state’ of Yoga at any point during the day, whilst attending to any of life’s tasks. Always practicing good posture, which allows for better Pranayama (Life force of breath) would be an example of a physical aspect. My students, who know me well, know how passionate I am about posture and breathing, which often leads to them having homework.
But more importantly, it is constantly ‘being’; an ongoing discipline – To be truly in the moment. Yoga is an ancient gift to the world, to help heal the body from within. Your Yoga practice can be what you need it to be; physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
RedBrick: What is your personal philosophy or mantra?
Michelle-Karen: “For the Love of ALL Life” – This is the perfect summary for myself – Yogi, Vegan, Animal Rights Activist, Buddhist, Druid, Writer, Animal Lover. My soul breaks over the devastation of how we treat our animals and neglect Mother Earth BUT I truly believe that one person can effect change. I believe we are here to live a life of service. Everything can be an act of service – our work, our daily life, our family commitments etc, as long as everything we do comes from a place of love. We are here to live and to love and to give back. I grew up with my Mom always saying “We help where we can.” As simple as that! We can make a difference. We can choose to make a difference. And we can do this, still whilst living the beautiful life the Gods intended for us.
RedBrick : What is your vision for your Yoga practice?
Michelle-Karen: What do I hope to achieve from my own personal practice? A state of true peace and serenity. This comes with hard work and discipline; the ongoing pursuit of a Yogic mindset. And, of course, having fun whilst exploring new variations and asanas (postures). However, I suspect that what I consider fun, some of my students may not (E.g. When I get the timer out to measure ‘plank’ variations and lunges and those 20 seconds or one minute goals seem like a never ending void. Ha ha).
My vision for our new[look] studio – I am so fortunate that I am the sort of person that chooses to see ‘opportunity rather than challenge’. And, of course, we are all adjusting to life in a pandemic. What does this mean for GreenHeart Yoga & Meditation? Building an online studio that provides a quality service whilst maintaining a personal, ‘real life’ relationship with my students. I am naturally a very caring person, a nurturer, and this extends to the relationships I have had with my students over the years. My classes are designed to cater to students’ needs, with constant follow ups, feedback and consultations, by making use of platforms that we have available to us. It is important to maintain these relationships to help grow and establish the long term ‘Yoga mindset’.
We look forward to launching so many new concepts and projects that have been put on hold for now. And that’s okay. Everything happens in perfect harmony.
It is an absolute privilege to be of service, sharing what I love and what I am passionate about.
“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” Albert Einstein
Thank you, Lucelle, for your beautiful vision and open heart and for the expertise and creativity of RedBrickArtspace.
Palms together in love and joy.
Creating a Storyboard
Now that I have a good understanding of the client’s personality, I can start with a visual proposal of ideas for the space. Michelle is truly a unique and open individual, the Q & A has also revealed that she pays meticulous attention to detail and puts her clients first. Never underestimate how much information you can glean from an initial interview with a client. Be a good listener, ask the right questions, be flexible and offer suggestions. Remember that a client has to live with your design, so ensure that they are on board with what you are proposing. A visual mock-up of the final design will give the client a much-needed idea of what it would look like in their space. Many people find envisioning colour and scale challenging, so make it a ‘no-brainer’ with visuals..
Form Must Meet Function
The practicalities of the design must be considered during the conceptual phase, as these inform the design as ‘non-negotiables’. I refer to any design element that detracts or complicates the client’s original purpose as a ‘non-negotiable’. For example, the client’s purpose was a mural that will act as a backdrop for online video-streaming. If I chose a reflective paint or a very ‘stripey’ pattern, this would cause visual distortion and dazzle during filming and would therefore be in conflict with the client’s core purpose, so it must go.
Due to level 3 lockdown restrictions, most of Michelle’s yoga sessions will be hosted online. Rather than a boring wall as a backdrop, RedBrick was commissioned to design a mural to add visual interest to the space. The design had to be based on a mandala motif, incorporate the Green Heart logo and use low contrast, monochrome colours (to avoid busy-ness). So what do I mean by ‘busy’? It’s a design that leaps out at you and shouts for attention, also referred to as ‘noisy’. A ‘backdrop’ must do exactly that, remain at the back and allow Michelle as the yoga teacher to take centre-stage. The mural should present as pleasant but subdued and add a sense of depth to the space.
Have a look at our ‘Proposed Mural Storyboard’ and the ‘Mural Mock-Up’, but you are going to have to watch this space for the final reveal :)
Hope you have enjoyed this article.
If you are interested in booking a session at Green heart Yoga & Meditation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org