Historic Studio Opens in Wayzata

A new location for the longtime design business takes full advantage of a prominent storefront
A collection of offerings at Historic Studio that includes ceramic pots, a trophy and a painting.
An original Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club trophy stars in an intriguing vignette. Photo by Chris Lee

Alert visitors on Lake Street in downtown Wayzata kept watch on a prominent corner this summer. At one time it was a beloved bookshop and then, briefly, a jewelry store. Now it was being prepped for new life. Finally, the paper came down off the windows to reveal a new incarnation of Historic Studio, the design firm led by Robb Whittlef.

A painted chair with the words "Grateful Dead," available at Historic Studio.
“Brute” chair, painted by Robert Laughlin. Photo by Chris Lee

From St. Louis Park to Wayzata

Robb and his brother and co-founder Mike Whittlef, moved Historic Studio from its St. Louis Park location for both visibility and convenience. “So many of our clients are out this way, this is convenient for them to pop in and see something,” says Katie Ruhberg, one of the firm’s interior designers.

Fabric swatches spread out on a table at Historic Studio.
Swatches galore on a work table. Photo by Chris Lee

Robb’s 25 years in the design industry span numerous retail ventures, HGTV stardom, and product design. He is also a nationally known designer of luxury interiors. His incredible eye and perspicacious style stocked Great Estate Home & Garden in Minnetonka and Historic’s former warehouse space with unique finds from across the country, Europe, Asia, and South America. It was local designers’ secret resource for unusual pieces, and, a couple times a year, it was open to the public.

New Life on Lake Street

The new Lake Street studio, headquarters for the design staff, holds an array of samples and ample space for client meetings. But it seems Robb can’t resist sprinkling in a tempting array of products for sale as well. A few favorite books—The Private House, by Rose Tarlow, Kitchen, by Mick De Giulio, Legendary Homes of Lake Minnetonka, by Bette Hammel and Karen Melvin, among them—and unique collectibles draw passersby inside Historic Studio to browse and, of course, talk design projects.

Legendary Homes of Lake Minnetonka book and candles on a table at Historic Studio.
Legendary Homes of Lake Minnetonka (with the late, lamented Pillsbury mansion on the cover) and candles by local maker True Hue Life. Photo by Chris Lee

Artfully curated displays of global artifacts, paintings, and works by local favorites draw in passersby. And, like all intriguing shops, the longer you browse, the more treasures you find. The studio will make it official with a ribbon cutting and grand opening October 10 to celebrate the new location.

Heads on sticks in front of a plant at Historic Studio.
Diminutive pre-Columbian heads on display. Photo by Chris Lee

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