Kelley Bishop, together with her husband, founded Studio.BNA architects, a design- and research-based architectural studio located in Athens, Georgia. The studio’s ideology is rooted in the integration of site, environment, experience, and creativity–a philosophy that clearly emerges in its ongoing commission to revitalize Habersham Mills. Studio.BNA’s design and fabrication of new structures, including furnishings, both reflect and complement the original character of the historic mill and its unique setting. Energized by her initial visit to the site five years ago, Kelley began envisioning ways to share her experience with others. Her twenty-year yoga practice, combined with her appreciation of the healing powers of nature surrounding the mill and its simple built environment, inspired the mission of Quiet Ground.
Kelley is currently designing and creating Steel + Plank, a collection of furnishings and living accessories that are simple, beautiful, and true to the material nature of steel, wood, and concrete. She lives in Athens with her husband, Brett, her daughter, Emerson, and her son, Jacob.
Mary Downing Koon
Mary Downing Koon is the director of Center City Ballet and Movement Arts, a neighborhood dance and movement studio in Athens, Georgia’s, Historic Boulevard District. In addition to offering classical ballet training to children and adults, CCBMA is committed to providing mindful movement classes of all genres, including Pilates, Yoga, Acro-Yoga, Capoeira, and Authentic Movement. The studio also offers a regular series of Franklin Method workshops. Mary began ballet training at age 6 under the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum and eventually completed three levels of RAD examinations. In high school, she studied with the legendary Edward Villela, director of the Miami City Ballet, at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts. She holds a master’s degree in art history and, prior to opening CCBMA, worked as an editor at the Georgia Museum of Art where she also curated three fashion-centric exhibitions, including Emilio Pucci in America. Mary has practiced Bikram yoga for four years and recently added hot Vinyasa to her training. She is committed to making mindful movement and the benefits of breath work accessible to everyone in her community and hopes to break some of the damaging stereotypes typical of the ballet world by encouraging people of all ages, backgrounds, and body types to take class at CCBMA. Mary lives in Athens with her two daughters, Beatrice and Clementine.
Growing up in the eclectic South Florida of the 70”s and 80”s lent itself to Kara’s early appreciation for aesthetics and her affinity for the outdoors. Her childhood home was centered on creative expression with parents who valued art and music and dedicated their time to hands on projects. The result of this beginning was the pursuit of many creative endeavors including a career in the world of fashion. It was here that she honed her appreciation for good design while working in many different capacities including marketing, styling and merchandising.
In 2004, Kara decided to dedicate herself full time to being with her first child and soon found herself immersed in raising two little ones. She welcomed this new phase as an opportunity to enjoy a different pace, and explore other creative interests. Having always been drawn to older homes she loves the process of transforming and reorganizing spaces, and recently began work on her 6th renovation project. Despite being an intrepid traveler, and spending a great deal of time on both the West Coast and the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, she has found deep roots in the South and loves calling Athens Ga home.
In 2017 she joined Kelley Bishop in the launching of Steel and Plank. Through this experience she partnered with Kelley and Mary to organize and host the inaugural Quiet Ground retreat. She believes wholeheartedly in prioritizing self care, which for her includes a daily yoga and meditation practice. She is currently pursuing her 200 hour yoga teacher training at M3 Yoga in Athens, Ga. Quiet Ground Retreats is the culmination of some of the things she values most – a unique space that blends well designed spaces and the beautiful surroundings of the Soque River with thoughtful and meaningful retreat experiences. Kara is thrilled to be part of curating these experiences for others.
Photo credit: Maya Bride