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

Computer Arts - - Contents - MY DE­SIGN 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.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Joanne Craw­ford www.joan­necraw­

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

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