great rooms

Meet the Makers at Ostudio, Bed-Stuy’s Beehive of Creativity

Fernando Aciar turned a parking garage into a DIY community.

Ostudio. Photo: Wendy Goodman
Ostudio. Photo: Wendy Goodman

I got to know chef and ceramicist Fernando Aciar when he took over the lease on the spot that for many years housed the much-loved coffee shop Joe Jr., on Sixth Avenue at 12th St., in 2011. His place, Ocafe, quickly became one of my regular spots (at a time when we are all made more appreciative than ever of our neighborhood go-tos, new and old.) In addition to serving delicious treats in a simple, cozy environment, Ocafe also sells pottery and artisanal objects from his studio, Fefo Studio. In 2019, Aciar opened the 4,500-square-foot Ostudio in a former parking garage in Bedford- Stuyvesant, to give him more space for his own work, while offering space for rent to creatives of all sorts. He’d been telling me about it, and I finally went to visit this beehive where everywhere you looked something was in the works, from furniture being made and canvases painted and clay being fired. In the spring Fernando will open a café there as well, so that is something to look forward to.

Fernando Aciar

Entrepreneur, chef, and craftsman

Photo: Wendy Goodman

From: Andes Mountains, Argentina
Moved to New York: 2006
Founder: Ocafe, Fefostudio, and Ostudio.

“I am deeply influenced by the craft and natural foods of my origins. I handcraft a variety of home goods from tableware to tiles to lighting and textiles, all inspired by the expression of everyday objects. I opened Ostudio to create a bigger space for Fefostudio and to connect with more artisans looking to collaborate and share. My passion is to bring beautiful things to people. We all have the capacity to learn and adapt to a new form of living. We can always learn something new, always.”


Carl Alexander

Private chef and intern at Ceramic Studio of Ostudio

Photo: Wendy Goodman

From: Trinidad and Tobago
Moved to New York: 2003
Started at Ostudio: 2019

“I’ve only been a private chef for two years since coming back to NYC from California, where I spent five years at the Restaurant at Meadowood, now closed. I met Fernando late last year when a friend of mine invited me to a ‘movie night’ that Fernando hosted at Ostudio and I found his work fascinating. I felt the need to ask him if I could intern with him and luckily and surprisingly, he said yes.”

@1insights | @kindred_bk

R. Kikuo Johnson

Illustrator and cartoonist

Photo: Wendy Goodman

From: Maui, Hawaii
Moved to New York: 2003
Started at Ostudio: 2019

“I am best known for my New Yorker covers. I am currently working on a graphic novel, my first graphic novel came out in 2006, and I have been doing mostly editorial illustration since.” | @r_kikuo_johnson

Sarah Nsikak

Designer of sustainable fashion and textile artist

Photo: Wendy Goodman

From: Oklahoma City
Moved to New York: 2017
Started at Ostudio: July 2020

“I started my company La Reunion in December, 2019, with a goal of celebrating Africa and making work that would tell the buried stories of my culture and those I am inspired by. I felt the need for this because I grew up in a state where I was never given the opportunity to learn about people who looked like me outside of my Nigerian home. I make textiles, art, and fashion out of recycled materials, and the inspirations for my work all come from Africa.” |

Ahmed Khedr and Luisa Alcântara

Ahmed Khedr (right) and Luisa Alcântara. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Ahmed Khedr, filmmaker, writer, and artist

From: Cairo, Egypt
Moved to New York: 2008
Started at Ostudio: 2019

“I was born and raised in Cairo, and have been living in New York City for a cumulative of seven years — I went back to Cairo for five years for a job in media production. The studio has given me a new perspective on my creative process — I joined the studio in 2019, a low point in my life, where I sought refuge in the space. The environment allowed me the safe space to express myself. I felt that this could be the place where I could start to rebuild myself, find internal strength, and channel my emotions through different forms of creativity. I was focused on channeling whatever it was that I was feeling in the moment through the different characters that I was drawing or painting. I became progressively more obsessed with making art and it became a form of constructive escapism from my reality.”


Luisa Alcântara, artist

From: São Paulo, Brazil
Moved to New York: 2011
Started at Ostudio: 2019

“I came to New York to study art and never left. The great revelation that O Studio has brought me is that I can create with just as much vigor and courage alone as I can sharing my studio with other creators. In fact it has pushed me to examine visual communication in a much more direct form, since at O Studio I am surrounded by other image-obsessed human beings. It’s especially intensified mine and Ahmed’s intrinsic collaboration since now we both share not only a friendship and an apartment but also the place where we illustrate our worlds.”


Jessi Highet

Textile artist and fabricator

Photo: Wendy Goodman

From: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Moved to New York: 2008
Started at Ostudio: 2019

“I moved to NYC from Allentown to study at Parsons. I have been working as a freelance textile artist and fabricator since 2012. I started to focus my studio on dye fabrication, specifically working with designers and collaborating with artists to create unique, artisanal dye work through the use of innovative techniques. I now run a full-time production facility at Ostudio and dye over 1,000 units each season (every three months) with the help of assistants I train in my style.” |

Sarah Kim and David Zhang

Furniture designers

Photo: Wendy Goodman

From: Kim, Los Angeles; Zhang, Minnesota
Moved to New York: 2015
Started at Ostudio: 2019

“We design and build objects and furniture pieces. We began our work by building one-of-a kind-lamps for friends, and now we are fulfilling custom co-missions for furniture and spatial interventions. Our goal is to continuously grow and evolve our practice to become something that others can look towards and learn from as well.”

Photo: Wendy Goodman

Katy Peetz

Pastry chef, recipe developer, and founder of plant-based snack company Keetz

Katy Peetz with 12-week-old Clementine. Photo: Wendy Goodman

From: Columbus, Nebraska
Moved to New York: 2008
Started at Ostudio: 2019

“When Fernando opened Ostudio I knew it would be the perfect space to grow Keetz. Fernando ignites a creative energy as well as a strong sense of community, and this was important to me when searching for a co-working space since I run my company mostly solo. Almost immediately other artists and workers there became sounding boards, collaborators, and friends. I really feel grateful for and inspired by this community! So much so that I wanted my new little girl, Clementine, to meet everyone.”

Anna Polonsky and Claire Dufournier

Anna Polonsky (left) and Claire Dufournier. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Anna Polonsky, founder and creative director, Polonsky & Friends

From: Paris
Moved to New York: 2007
Started at Ostudio: 2019

Claire Dufournier, senior graphic designer, Polonsky & Friends

From: Paris and Brussels
Moved to New York: 2017
Started at Ostudio:  2019

“Polonsky & Friends is a strategy and design studio for those who use food as a beacon for community and change. We support mission-driven, food-related projects initiated by passionate chefs, activists, and brands in Europe and the U.S. We always say that we are creative storytellers, not artists.”

Meet the Makers at Ostudio, Bed-Stuy’s Beehive of Creativity