It would be fair to say that I’ve always been a ‘work from home’ detractor. A self-proclaimed compartmentalist, I’ve always preferred to separate work from home with (at the very least) a train journey, a lengthy walk and an over-priced season ticket.
When I left London, this distinction was underscored with a marker pen. Work was now represented by the noise, energy and chaos of London, while home beckoned as a place of calm, Sky Sports News and a demanding cat.
So, what do you do when these two worlds collide? When a virus suddenly means that the noise, energy and deadlines of London take up a tenancy in your home?
Like most people, this was the challenge I found myself faced with at the start of lockdown. Somehow – almost overnight – I had to find a way to make ‘work and home’ seamlessly transform into ‘work from home’; fitting the energy and dynamism of our studio into a Victorian cottage.
It was something that I initially found stressful. How could I make sure the pressure of work didn’t spill over into evenings on the sofa, or the temptation of Netflix creep up on me during a morning Zoom meeting?
Eventually, I decided to create a ‘world within a world’: setting up camp in our back guest bedroom. A room that we don’t use a lot, this bedroom has always felt a little cut off from the rest of the house: quieter, darker and colder. It was in this room that I put together my own ‘pop up studio’ – a place where, tucked between a double bed, a wardrobe and an old fireplace, Design Bridge 6.0 was born.
Over the last 10 weeks I’ve slowly filled this temporary studio with items that bring out the creativity, colour and paraphernalia of the Design Bridge London studio. Posters, plants, Lego pieces, trinkets, sketches and fluorescent post-it-notes surround my desk, creating a little bubble of Clerkenwell-flavoured dynamism.
Although it might just be the room at the back of my house, the moment that I cross into this new ‘studio’ and close the door, I’m back in London. Even after work drinks happen in here; my desk quickly transformed into a sticky table in The Kings.
Two months in and I’ve somehow found a way to make this new normal work. At the end of each day, I close my blinds, turn off my laptop and step out onto the landing: home ready and waiting on the other side (albeit without the football).
Perhaps working from home isn’t all that bad, after all.
This week I, and some of my colleagues from the London Studio, will be sharing what Design Bridge 6.0 looks like for us right now…
Lydia De’Ath, Senior Client Director
“The ‘bonkers’ spare room that was never intended to get so much airtime, or so I thought. In an old Victorian house, very much playing to the ‘Down Pipe’ grey trend, I thought this would be the one space where the rule book is thrown out, and the charm and quirk of this wonky-floored room is played up to the max. Not the traditional makings of a calm, professional office but, in these unusual times, what’s normal is out the window and this happy accident has led to some fun conversation starters!
Always by my side or on my lap, hidden just out of camera shot, is Maud. A soaker upper of stress, a source of never-ending joy, and a reason to march through those 10,000 steps. She’s an ‘office’ companion like no other, and one I couldn’t imagine lockdown or life without.”
Chris Algar, Senior Designer
“Working from home has given me the time to look through some of the magazines and books we’ve been accumulating over the years. Often with little time to spend with them before, they have found their way onto our shelves and they’re amazing resources. Turning a page definitely beats scrolling through a website.
My favourite has to be Portfolio, an iconic piece of art direction by Alexey Brodovitch in the 1950s. Well ahead of its time, his magazines not only pushed the boundaries but completely reimagined how publications could be designed, and you can recognise their influence on work produced today. They introduced readers to exciting and avant-garde ideas by artists and designers like Charles Eames, Irving Penn and Paul Rand. This particular issue features work by the painter Jackson Pollock, and a beautifully illustrated feature on “The Orient” (his words, not mine!) by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Alexey Brodovitch’s rigorous standards meant that he would not allow advertising to mar the flow of the magazines, which ultimately led to its quick demise: only three issues were published from 1950 to 1951.”
Efekan Dundar, Junior Brand Strategist
“Over time, I’ve blissfully filled my living/dining/work space with an array of odds and ends. My burgeoning art/print collection is particularly precious to me, and has been a constant source of inspiration and escapism (especially recently).
In my humble opinion, no painter does ‘escapism’ better than Cy Twombly. This print of his reminds me of a hazy Texan road-trip back in 2018 that turned into a pilgrimage to see the gallery dedicated to him at the Menil Collection in Houston. Like a window into a daydream, the work is all woozy and abstracted. It takes me back to lonely Southern highways at dusk; the expanse of the darkening desert lingering behind scuffed glass.”
Talitha Watson, Senior Production Project Manager
“I was fortunate to be visiting family in Wales for a long weekend when we went into lockdown. I’ve been here ever since, so I have very few clothes and definitely no stripes to speak of (sorry Chloé)!
My work station is in the hub of the house; my mum’s Kitchen. Whilst she isn’t in this image (mainly because I fear she would hurt me or not give me a bit of cake), she’s normally bumbling around somewhere, walking in on Teams calls when she thinks I’m talking to her. Or sometimes just sitting opposite me reading about (or worse, baking) scrumptious cakes, which are an assault on my nose receptors.
This is the longest I’ve spent with my mum and step-father since I was in school (many many years ago now). It’s certainly brought us closer together, and almost getting to know each other all over again, and in a very different way. I’m enjoying it, although I do sometimes feel like I’ve invaded their space. I do like a bit of ‘me time’, so the hills around us are helping and the garden is looking insane, what with all the weekend chores that I get delivered to me on a Friday afternoon.
So my ‘object’ is a photo of these guys that are helping keeping me sane, safe and well.”
Luke Burley, Design Director 3D
“When we’re fixated to our screens we tend to get pigeonholed into our own thoughts and the constant internet scrolling. Throughout the day I tend to take moments to just stare out of the window to the sea views. This helps me to regain concentration, re-align or re-think any challenging parts of a job.
It’s vital to take breaks throughout busy days and remember that ‘working from home’ has to work with you, so make sure your working space is best suited for you.”
Amelia Cherrill, Junior Designer
“My desk’s usual role is housing an entire Boots pharmacy worth of skincare and makeup, which has all been shifted to one side in order to make room for a simple working space – only to be completed by my notebook in the most obnoxious orange shade I could find, all in an effort not to misplace it. In amongst it all is a collection of what I would call ‘sentimental knick-knacks’, and what my dad would probably call ‘clutter’.”
Nathan Jordan, Senior Creative Retoucher
“Open plan living means I’m sharing my workspace with my family, and this slate bed snooker table converts to a huge dining table. It was hand built by a local company in Leigh-on-Sea in the eighties who are still going strong today. A symbol of how busy I have been is that this is the first time I’ve taken the cover off since lockdown, which I view as a good thing on a few levels. The table’s normal role is as the kids school desk, along with performing it’s usual dinner time duties – so it’s not a luxury item, but a real utility piece!
The lizard’s name is Ozzy and he’s been known to make an appearance during Teams chats.”
Mike Stride, Creative Director
“While Design Bridge 6.0 here in the cottage might have better coffee, better music and benefits from daily visits from Mr Tibbs (the cat), there’s no getting around the fact that it lacks the one thing that makes our London studio so brilliant: its people.
Although it might seem unlikely, this little Subbuteo football reminds me of this crowd.
A few months back, I was chatting with a friend (and colleague) about things that inspired us – including stuff we played with as kids. One of these things was Subbuteo: a game of heroes less than an inch tall, ‘flick to kicks’ and some of the toughest league finals I’ve witnessed. It reminds me of a time of 90s design, brightly coloured kits and lo-tech entertainment. Given that I used to collect players based solely on the design of their strips, I guess it also reminds me of when I first found my passion for design.
A few days later, this same colleague arrived at work with a smile on his face. Sitting next to me, he quietly handed me something: this tiny Subbuteo ball.
Yes, I might have got used to working from home – I might even have found some advantages to it – but this little token reminds me that design isn’t just about that final output. Instead, it’s about the process and the people around us; those that remind us of past inspirations, encourage us to think bigger, and ensure that we never forget what should be central to all our work: the human element.”
Anna Stanford, Digital & PR Manager
“This is my WFH ‘desk’ and the view I’ve seen every day since lockdown in London. But the view my colleagues have got used to seeing is of the shelves partially hiding the kitchen behind me, and I think the item that has caused the most intrigue is the “luxury shelf” sign, which I got in Canada a few years ago. Honest Ed’s was a huge discount store just up the road from where one of my mates lived. It had been there since the 40’s and was a proper Toronto institution. The store façade was covered in these amazing lights and quirky signs (Google it and you’ll see what I mean), and every item was priced up with one of these distinctive hand-painted signs. I happened to be in TO on the store’s last day of trading and they were selling off literally everything in the building – stock, fixtures, fittings, the lot – so I searched through piles of these signs to find the perfect memento. It’s adorned my (non-luxury) shelf ever since.”
Maya Antonov, Operations Manager
“We’ve been fortunate in being able to move into our new home this year, so self-isolating has been a little bit of a welcome ‘nesting’ period for us, where furniture and various knick-knacks are constantly being moved around to see what sits best where. I think the dining area is almost there, though.
Spike (the palm tree) is named so as his leaves are actually pretty sharp and have caused a few cuts. He has been with me since my first job as Assistant Producer in a tiny design studio based in Camden back in 2012. I bought him on my lunch break for £2 from a small Turkish off license round the corner to sit at my desk. He’s seen me change jobs 3 times and move house 4 times. He’s now huge and I am starting to wonder whether we’ve been moving all those times to accommodate his ever-increasing leaf span…”
Curated by Mike Stride, Creative Director at Design Bridge London.