Moving studios can be an overwhelming task with many factors to take into consideration, but it can also prove to be a perfect opportunity for creative revival.
You may be craving change, needing a bigger space, or wanting to be closer to clients. Following the original desire comes hard work, lots of planning and a clear vision of space that will creatively satisfy staff and impress clients.
Beakus, Music and Envy have all opened new studios in London within the past month. We spoke to each one about the purpose of moving, logistics involved and the importance of the new studio’s design.
You can also check out what we thought of Vault49’s beautifully hand-crafted new studio in New York City.
Animation studio Beakus moved to Convent Garden because their original Lambeth location didn’t have many creative businesses nearby. The team moved at the beginning of October, around six months after the original idea. After a bit of trouble with internet speed and moving gear over two flights of stairs, the team were settled in.
Animation director and producer Steve Smith describes Beakus’ new studio.
“We’re a one-room studio, open-plan. We used to have an- L-shape room which had its own issues, but now it’s squarer. And we had our own facilities, but now we share them (though crucially they’re on our floor!).
“We also used to have a courtyard, but we found we rarely used it, as it was land-locked by fences and walls, which wasn’t conducive to happy work, play times and events. We considered a central hub of desks, but feared the cables-on-floor terror, so went for desks round the borders.
“What’s best of all is we used to be a long room with only windows front and back which meant much of the middle-ground was without natural light. Now we have huge windows at the front (and some at the back) so it’s much brighter.
“And our view is of the Covent Garden buzz, so it’s a distraction, but a good one!
Plus we have real-wood floor now, which is a must for creative businesses.”
Steve’s Words of Advice
Move for the right reasons and know exactly what you want
“When I saw this new studio space I loved it at first look. We went to see others that on paper should have been nicer, but this one wouldn’t leave my memory. Something about the location, the size, the shape, the vibe on the street. I could see us in there, and so it came to pass!”
“It’s really tempting to look forward to that big day when you land the big job and need a warehouse, and you think it’s worth finding that warehouse now, so you’re prepared, but it rarely pays off. Swimming in too much space is worse than being crunched in to too little, in my experience."
Moving can be incredibly invigorating
“If only to lose that connection to the worn piece of carpet your chair has marked over the preceding years – the worn piece of carpet that reminds you how little has been changing. A move is as good as a kick up the butt!”
Less design, more atmosphere
“It needs to be relaxed in there, liberating, and with like-minded folk in it. If there’s a buzz all the better, and a studio aesthetic wherever you look – be it artwork from our directors, awards, material about animation, stop-mo puppets even. But that’s secondary to how you make your creatives feel.”
Post-production house Envy relocated out of London’s Soho area (one of the first to do so) to a spot near Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road in Noho, allowing more room for their advertising arm.
Owner and interior designer Natascha Cadle found the new space “in a terrible state” but saw the potential of its art-deco style exterior and a laid-back industrial interior. It took fourth months to set up.
The ground floor of the new Mortimer Street studio consists of a large installed window for natural light, meeting rooms, the production team and a bar. Above that houses a Baselight grading suite, Baselight Assist, five Flame Premium suites and an expanded VFX studio support area.
Envy has also invested in a massive technical overhaul, installing a Dolby Atmos Premix Studio.
Natascha says timing is everything; research is key and expect lots of hard work. She explains the design of the new studio.
“Mortimer Street was a building used by the building company and its workers from the building site opposite that redeveloped the old Middlesex Hospital.
“As you can imagine it was in a terrible state. We removed an old car lift and broke it all down and started from scratch so we could design all the rooms exactly the way we wanted to.
“With regards to interiors I always do a lot of research looking online and in magazines. I wanted the whole building to be functional feel and make it feel comfortable, a home from home type of feeling.
“The ground floor has a predominantly industrial look but broken up with denim fabric sofas and big lamps. The rest of the building feels a bit more beach-like with blues and pebble colours, as the outside of the building is Art Deco and it reminded me of those lovely buildings in Miami.
“The new facility was created to be functional and ascetically pleasing whilst being comfortable so staff and clients love using the space.”
Manchester branding and communication agency Music has opened an additional studio in London to cater to major clients such as Dr. Martens and Universal Studios.
Music hope moving to the capital will make it easier for face-to-face meetings with clients, open up more opportunities for new clients and gain new staff.
Music associate creative director Edward Johnson will lead the new studio based in Shoreditch. He’ll essentially be the glue between projects in London and Manchester.
Music’s piece of advice: If it feels right, do it. And that’s when the hard work starts.
We asked Music's chief executive and executive creative director David Simpson about their business plan for the new studio, and how it will help with projects for major brands.
“Dr. Martens is the perfect client for Music, the heritage, the importance of design and their brand values are very relevant to us, so we want to be able to work closely with them to execute our first project with them. The team in London will work with and complement our team in Manchester.
“We have gradually worked more closely and more often with Universal over the past couple of years. To build on our relationship with the team there and complete work effectively it’s a good move for us to open a London studio. We can get quick feedback and answer any questions they may have for us.
“Opening our London studio allows the team at Universal to spend time with us there, especially when deadlines are squeezed. We plan to expand our team in London with should the workload demand it with great partners and a network of skillsets plus we are only a two-hour train journey from Manchester.
“We’ve put Ed (Johnson) in place to be the creative figurehead in London and he will work with the Music executive team to manage projects effectively. Ed will visit Manchester weekly and the management team will also frequently be in London, both working on London business but also dovetailing with what Ed is working to achieve.
“We aim to maintain our agency’s culture and style by encouraging the same ethos we have created in Manchester. Ed has been with us for a number of years and that history will ensure we start our London expansion in the right way.”