Cathedral Hill is a quaint, historic St. Paul neighborhood known most notably known for its historic haunts: the Alexander Ramsey House, which was built by the first governor of Minnesota Territory; the F. Scott Fitzgerald House, which is said to be the place he wrote his first novel, This Side of Paradise, and 36,000-square-foot mansion of the late railroad tycoon, the James J. Hill House. Lesser-known is the Blair Flats, a Victorian brick-clad structure with street-level glass arcades. Home to long-time local staples Nina’s Coffee Coffee Cafe and Estetica Salon and Day Spa, a new coworking space joins the woman-owned businesses situated on the intersection of Western and Selby Avenues.
Aptly dubbed The Coven, the workspaces were designed for women and those who identify as non-binary. After opening the first location in the sister city, Minneapolis, Studio BV took it upon themselves to transform a dark, Victorian interior into a light-filled haven. Founder Betsy Vohs intertwined original art and design elements throughout to anchor the community within the historic fabric: “The goal of the design was to connect and inspire members with design and art moments that have become a magnet for the community.”
Boldly feminine by design, The Coven is neither overtly girl nor positively corporate. A sea of sparkling pink flooring stretches out from the entrance throughout. Natural light pours in from the street to desks lined by sumptuous, overstuffed armchairs. Curious hidden niches and brick walls are adorned with murals, weavings, paintings, tapestries, tile, prints, and objects by local female and non-binary artists. The pairing of bright hues and original art “amplifies the historic building details and provide a sense of place,” said Vohs.
High ceilings and large swathes of daylight apex the reception and open lounge. There, a custom check-in desk is clothed in soft blue velvet, which is poetically framed by two large archways at the front door. Upon entering, members are greeted by a hand-laid floor mosaic of The Coven logo. Minneapolis based Mercury Mosaics also donned an “office tattoo” with the establishment’s mantra, “do the most good” over the coffee bar. “The open custom coffee bar serves as a social hub for both a collaborative work area and for special events,” said Vohs.
Whether written on the walls or suggested by the bold artwork, the pleasantly unexpected use of color and material “reflects the individuality of the members and guests.” Now as a unified network of connected spaces, covens can collaborate or work individually where the furniture is soft, colorful, and flexible.
Header image: At the entrance, a custom floor mosaic of the Coven logo is laid out in mosaic-style, complemented by custom hardware and decorative lighting. (Corey Gaffer Photography)