I have a flyer pinned up above my desk. It says things like “Practice until you’re great – then be better,” “Climb trees” and “Be tired at the end of every day.” I find it inspiring, not least because I can always say I’ve achieved the latter of those three!
The flyer is for 3D design studio JAILmake, and so I was very excited to meet creative partners Liam Healy and Jamie Elliott at TENT London in September, where they moved their entire operation (almost!) and set up camp for the week.
I was even more excited when they very kindly, if slightly bemusedly, agreed to let me come and shoot their studio for the confessions of a design geek creative spaces series.
When I arrived, team JAILmake and co (they rent out some of their space to other designers) were just finishing lunch in a kitchen they built themselves to fit the space. They take it in turns to cook a hot lunch for the rest of the team and eat together at the table.
The utilitarian aesthetic, complete with camping mugs, set the tone for my exploration of the rest of their space, but didn’t quite prepare me for the temperature in their workshop on the other side of this door. Trust me when I say that Liam’s hat (and possibly even Jamie’s beard) are driven more by need than fashion!
Once into the studio, I was in design geek heaven and soon forgot about the cold. Anybody who has ever dreamed of making things for a living has dreamed of a space like this.
A place for everything and everything in its place…
Even these tubes (part of the wood chip extractor that runs around the workshop collecting dust from all the machines) and circular Wadkin table saw blades have a strangely sculptural quality about them.
Blackboards pop up everywhere and are put to all sorts of uses, from managing time to sketching out ideas. I’m hoping to paint one wall of my own studio with blackboard paint soon – it’s a great way to get ideas and targets out into the open.
On the day I was there, projects underway included kitchen knives, a piece of oak cabinetry and some top secret prototypes(!), so it was good to see Liam hard at work, cutting (above) and then sanding some wood (below)…
…although I must confess, when he mentioned sanding, I was expecting sandpaper rather than this fabulous machine!
They have a (well heated and sound proofed!) office space too, which is equally inspiring with a red Eames DAR chair and a bright yellow wall covered in ideas, work in progress and a flyer just like mine.
Much like their stand at TENT London, one wall features floor to ceiling shelves, filled with things to inform and inspire, set at every angle but horizontal and vertical.
Most of their work is bespoke and their ability to respond to any brief and any space (plus their love of chipboard!) is in evidence all over their studio. From the shelves, these three little vignettes particularly caught my eye.
I asked Jamie what he liked best about the space: “I love the amount of machines we have. The range of our facilities means we can cover all manner of problems and try out different materials and techniques that wouldn’t immediately be associated with the project in hand . That and the large kitchen with its own pizza oven!”
Even the post tray is bespoke and perfectly formed to suit their space and their needs.
And the nice thing about having your own space, is having somewhere to park your bikes. Jamie has three motorbikes kicking about the workshop in various states of repair!
Further reading for the especially geeky: