Creative director Michael Lewis guides us through The Archipelago’s new plant-filled studio space
The Archipelago's Michael Lewis on seeing the wood for the trees within the studio's new space
We’ve recently moved our design studio to a larger space at Aire Street Workshops in Leeds city centre. While in our old studio we started an in-house project called The Plant Room, an exhibition series that brought together plants, illustration, ceramics and furniture design.
As the project grew, however, and my co-founding partner Zosia Berkieta-Lewis took on larger botanical installation projects, space was becoming an issue. We'd been actively looking for a new space for around six months when Aire Street Workshops got in touch to say it had a ground floor unit available, one that also had a separate space that could be opened as a pop-up shop. It needed work but was perfect for us. I think we must be the only design studio with a plant shop at the front!
Shortly after we moved in we discovered that our space had been a recording studio in the 80s and 90s. With some research we found out that Joy Division, Utah Saints, Annie Lennox and even Chumbawamba once recorded here. We love that our space has a creative past — it's a talking point.
Having more space around us has helped more that we had imagined. In our old space we were quite penned in. Now we can escape our desks and sit at a meeting table to discuss projects away from screens. Above all we've now got space to breathe, think and make.
The studio houses our collection of design and art books (1) and covers the team's wide areas of interest including:
modernist architecture; pattern and textile design; and industrial design.
Then there are the plants (2), which our studio always had, but because of The Plant Room project there are now even more. When the shop is closed it's such a peaceful place to spend some time and we often sit in the space to discuss projects and collaborations.
This wooden toy (3) designed by Kay Bojesen in 1953, is so beautiful in its simplicity. It was a gift from my sister and it has pride of place in the studio.
Through The Plant Room project we've started a print series, a growing collection of risograph prints (4) by our favourite illustrators on the theme of nudes and plants. It's been wonderful working with such talented artists on the series and we get the pleasure of having the collection on the walls in the studio.
I'm a very organised person, or at least try to be. Because of this there's always a diary or notebook on my desk
(5) filled with lists and project notes, as well as early sketches for design ideas.
Michael Lewis is the co-founder and creative director of The Archipelago, a Leeds-based design studio that's breaking new ground through its exhibition project The Plant Room www.thearchipelago.eu