This month marked nine years since I launched the first product for Another Studio. It’s interesting to look back through the archives and see how the company has grown. We are still a micro team but unbelievably we've now designed and produced well over 100 individual items! Most design are for our own giftware collection but many have been exclusive commissions for a range of creative and cultural enterprises.
It’s been an amazing journey thus far with many highs and lows, twists and turns bringing us to today. Read on for a brief nine year history of the journey so far.
2010 - PostCarden & lots of press
In February 2010 I received the first production of PostCarden making it the first product I had ever designed and manufactured. I’d barely shown it to anyone before sending a press release out from my tiny flat. I was terrified and clearly a bit bonkers!
Thankfully, the press loved it and quite quickly it gained a lot of interest in blogs, news papers and magazines around the world. It even received a whole page feature in Elle Decoration! It was an unbelievable year which ended with luxury high fashion brand Hermés commissioning me to create a bespoke growing mailer. Never would I have predicted my business would start so well.
2011 - Growing kits galore
In the second year I started to design more growing kits and took on Lahla Smart as a design intern to help create Matchcarden (today, Lahla still works for me as a freelance product designer and we’ve grown to be great friends). My good friend Frank kindly let us set up a studio in his office off Oxford Circus so we were living the dream working from central London with press, orders and projects coming in thick and fast and taking commissions from clients such as Selfridges.
I started to work with model maker Franki Finch and together we created Plantini which is still one of my favourite designs. I worked with five different factories to make this product - a big challenge at the time to find the right people to work with. I loved going down to visit the main packaging factory in Wales - they were so kind and patient, helping share their wealth of experience and knowledge and were always up for experimenting. Finding reliable manufacturers has been key and I value them so much.
2012 - New studio at Cockpit Arts
In July 2012 I moved into a permanent space at Cockpit Arts in Holborn, central London. Cockpit Arts is a social enterprise that is home to some 150+ talented designer-makers over two London locations. Being part of this creative community has been amazing and I’m lucky to have made many close friends since joining and I absolutely love being part of this place. They are a pretty fun and talented bunch ranging from ceramists to jewellers, illustrators to weavers.
Product wise I continued to work with Franki Finch and launched MONUmini, a range of architectural models. There were a number of projects on the side, one that stood out was a bespoke invitation mailer for Walt Disney which they used to promote a new film.
2013 - Not everything works
This year was the first test on how not everything works out well. I’d had three incredible years and was maybe a bit overworked and exhausted. I designed two really uninspiring product ranges which were wrong in many ways making it quite a learning curve, as up to this date everything I produced had been a big success. The failure hurt a lot at the time but was so important to go through (not saying I’d like to do that again!) I wasn’t passionate about the new products so they were difficult to sell and I discontinued them pretty quickly! Luckily I did take on an amazing commission for the Sir Johns Soane’s Museum and produced a series of products for them.
2014 - City loving & big projects
I cycle everywhere and for this years commute I went over waterloo bridge everyday. The views from the bridge are amazing and I started to look back to architecture for some inspiration for a new product. In a couple of days I designed the first set of City Clips - architectural bookmarks 5000 times smaller than the really buildings which became quite a hit so more cities followed. I also started to experiment with larger scale sculptural pieces and the Convert Vase was launched - all made from a single sheet of metal.
During this year we took on several large commissions, in particular a big project for Google to produce an exclusive pop-up growing card. It was a huge order with very tight deadlines and resulted in many sleepless nights! At one point there were 18 people working in the studio to get it completed on time.
2015 - Change of direction
In 2015 I felt a need to change direction. I took on some distributors who would look after the wholesale customers and give me more free time to take on projects and experiment with new metals and processes. We worked on a number of exclusive product ranges for the Science Museum, Westminster Abbey, Royal Albert Hall and Hotel De Ville de Paris.
In between projects I experimented with an origami style design using thin sheets of wood. The result was a hand made range called Lignum Fold which consisted of a geometric lampshade, pencil pot, bowl and dish which we launched at design junction.
2016 - Little things and lighting
A new website and identity refreshed the brand. I continued my slight obsession with miniature items and we designed the ultimate range of tiny objects of desire ‘mini-onaires'.
This was an odd year as I wanted to continue making hand made pieces, still sell the exciting range of gifts and keep working with clients. It’s fair to say the three did not marry and it was becoming very confusing about what direction the company was going in. I had an urge to experiment and push the boundaries of what I was designing and in September we launched Timber Tailor, a range of hand crafted wood light-shades inspired by dress making. We had a few commissions but quickly I realised we did not have the space, free hands, and if I’m really honest the desire to make all these very time consuming items by hand.
2017 - Turning point
In 2017 I decided we needed to refocus and do one thing really well. I had to choose between hand making wooden objects (this needed greater time and resources given to it) or focus on great gifts and playful products. The second option was hands down more sensible and more fun. Again I looked to indoor gardening and architecture for inspiration and felt decorations for houseplants should be a thing. And so Plant Animals were born, cute creatures to hang from your houseplants! I wasn’t certain anyone would ‘get’ them or like them as much but they quickly became a thing!
We also slogged over a mammoth architectural map of London’s River Thames which featured the history and heritage of 100 buildings situated from Tower bridge to Houses of Parliament. It was so interesting to research the rich history of the buildings along the river and made me love this city even more.
We took back our distribution and started doing trade shows again, designed and produced a range of products for Historic Scotland and made an army of NYC water towers for a new hotel in Williamsburg!
2018 - Relocating & all things planty
For a couple of years we’ve needed a bigger studio space so we took the big step of moving studio South of the river to Cockpit Arts, Deptford.
Our studio is now bright and full of light, perfect for housing our growing plant collection. It’s quieter than central London but still home to lots of fantastic designers so we have the same community buzz. We’ve been designing all things plant related such as the House Plant Care Cards, a Houseplant print, Hanging Bird and launched a flashy new website. We've also enjoyed exhibiting at various shows and dealing direct with all our lovely wholesale customers - by the end of this year we had over 200 stockists in 18 countries!
2019 - Watch this space
Going into our tenth year we have lots of exciting designs in the pipeline and plans for the year ahead. Lots of new fun gifts will be launched this year. We’ve already out grown our new studio so are now on the hunt for a shop space in London. Hopefully we'll find one in time to celebrate our 10 year anniversary!