Recent graduate Joel lives in a small student apartment in a single room he uses for everything. The many steps required to transform a dining nook into a design desk—and then back again—gets to be exhausting. And it can be hard to relax when he’s constantly surrounded by work.

“My home wears many hats. It must work as a studio for me as well as a studio apartment.”

“Just to start, I have to take out the sewing machine, the ironing board, uncover it, plug everything in, and then move things away so I have a surface to work on,” he says. “And knowing all along that when I’m done, I also have to do the reverse, then tidy up and vacuum to get all of the loose threads. It’s quite a song and dance; it would be nice if I didn’t have to go through all that every time inspiration strikes.”

Since he graduated from school in the summer, his tenancy is quickly drawing to a close. He knows he’ll soon need to find somewhere else to live. So, for now, he’s doing his best with the space he has, and he’s grateful to have a roof over his head until he can find another apartment he can afford. Joel hopes that one day he’ll be able to afford a home where his work life and his private life exist separately.

“The next logical step would be a home where I have a dedicated workspace, ideally a room with a door I can close, and leave the mess inside,” he explains.

In Stockholm, a home is hard to find. That’s why Joel Andersson is hanging on to his student housing for as long as he possibly can. Situated on the first floor of a residence building in the quiet Hägersten neighbourhood, the cosy, sun-drenched space measures a mere 23 square meters, but it operates as office, atelier, workshop, kitchen, living room and bedroom all at once.

Using tight quarters to do it all is not always easy, especially when most of your day is spent at home. Until he’s able to get a job in fashion, Joel works part-time in a skate shop and uses his free time creating projects of his own.

Since space is limited, everything has its place, and he’s worked out a system for storage and organisation that keeps his most important professional tools out of sight until he needs them. When the time comes to get down to work, however, the setup can be daunting.

My long-term goal would be to have my own studio outside of my house. I want my home to be a place of inspiration and relaxation—and nothing more than that.”

Like most of us, Joel’s definition of home has evolved. While he always tried to create an environment that’s inviting and welcoming to accommodate friends for social gatherings, his need for privacy and rest developed as he grew older. Today, he describes comfort and relaxation as the primary needs he’d like his home to satisfy. He stresses the importance of “doing nothing.”

“When I was younger, my idea of home was more of a place to just drop off my bags on my way to the next project or meeting or get-together,” he says. “But as I’ve matured, home means something different for me. It’s a place to take a deep breath, to relax. It’s a safe space to just do nothing, essentially.”

Nagano, Japan

Sayaka and Oliver

Sayaka, a writer and mother of two, lives in Matsumoto in a house she and her husband Oliver renovated themselves.