Yoga Meets Office

Island Yoga, Palm Beach Aruba 2016-2017


Tapped by friend and internationally-acclaimed yoga teacher Rachel Brathen (aka @Yoga_Girl) to design her yoga center in Aruba, Kelly was thrilled at the opportunity to apply her design experience closer to her passions for wellness, yoga and the natural world.

Together with Norwegian based architecture firm Altiplan and Aruban contractor Dante Dysler, Kelly transformed a former sportsbar/nightclub into Island Yoga: Aruba's first yoga center, and the largest in the Caribbean. Its 16,000 square feet boasts two yoga shalas, the vegetarian Nourish Cafe, a colorful apparel boutique, office space, a production studio, and a large wrap-around garden with outdoor bar. Having so many different spaces in one large project was a unique design challenge, but Kelly was up for the task.

The intention was to create a fully designed yoga experience aligned with the Yoga Girl brand, for the local Aruban culture, international retreaters, and for Rachel's own employees. To achieve this, Kelly drew upon her own love for the yoga practice and chose to marry a minimalistic Scandinavian design (Rachel is a Swedish native) with the tropical colors of the Caribbean and the hippie chic flair that's close to her heart.


Island Yoga's main yoga shala, the Luna Shala, has a cooler and more lunar color scheme and can hold 60 students in a single class. The altar is adorned with amethysts imported from Uruguay, and holds honey calcite crystals covered with the moon phases (designed by Kelly's sister Luna Robinson) as a nod to Rachel's famous tattoo. The smaller Sol Shala features a hand painted mandala design by Maria Onni. A sustainable white bamboo from Cali Bamboo based out of Los Angeles, was chosen for the floors of both shalas.


Drawing on her increasing enthusiasm for environmentalism, Kelly worked closely with artist and designer Cado de Lannoy, who used reclaimed pallet wood to build reception furniture, work tables, and bench seating to sustainably warm up several of the rooms and spaces. Artwork by Suelyn added pops of bright color to make the space complete. To celebrate Aruba's warm climate and facilitate dancing and dining under the stars, the designers created a large cactus-lined garden complete with daybeds, a fire pit, an outdoor bar made by Cado, and a wood fire pizza oven.


In addition to the space for yoga guests, Kelly knew that Rachel's 15 international employees would need several environments in which to work, optimized for focus, creativity and wellness. She created a "focused office" room intended for heads down, uninterrupted work, as well as an "open office" room complete with a loungey couch, small kitchen, bar height table, and large round rug for floor sitting and stretching.

In the middle of the project the happy news was announced that Rachel was expecting her first child. It was decided to create a special space, adjacent to Rachel's office, just for her baby. Kelly hopes this example will serve to inspire employers and mothers who are balancing work with raising children.

I had a great opportunity to work with Kelly on the Island Yoga project. From the conceptual design to being all hands on deck, she trusted me to create something different and unique. She kept everyone in a good space during the whole project, and we worked well together to achieve the final goal.
— Cado de Lannoy
Kelly Robinson, Designer

Kelly Robinson, Designer

Yoga has transformed my life and the lives of millions. I envision a world where spaces for ancient practices like yoga exist on every corner, replacing fast food restaurants and “convenience” stores that take us further from our connection to ourselves, to nature, and to all things.


Photos by @folkfotos