Shape Studio, based in Bristol and London, specialise in bespoke designs for spaces, and deliver projects throughout the UK and internationally. Co founders Tom and Rowan chatted to us about their design inspiration.
Shape Studio was founded by two brothers, Tom & Rowan Meacock. Both brothers moved to London - Rowan to study Fine Art and work for a theatre company and Tom studied architecture and went on to be an architect. Neither felt quite right so they moved back to their roots, setting up Shape Studio together in a move to 'independently create'.
Their first studio was a basement in Bath. You could find the pair late at night down a small, winding Georgian staircase cutting small signs on a laser cutter. From there they started experimenting with how they could combine their talents with what a client wanted. They quickly grew from small scale and within a year they had to expand and moved their studio to Bristol. With this, the scope of making changed into designing and making everything in house - from furniture to commercial interiors and public artworks.
We've spoken to the team to ask them a little bit more about how they bring brand's visions to reality, and what roles materials play in that process.
When concocting projects, do you usually have a material in mind before you begin?
When we are asked to make something, even if we hesitate, we usually say yes and this is often driven by our love of materials and wanting to explore the material within a new application. We often use new projects as an excuse to try new materials and processes! However, like anyone we do have our favourites of the moment that we will be trying to apply... you get fixated by a material and want to share and introduce its capabilities and effects to as many clients as possible!
How does the making of a project inform the design and materials – and vice versa?
The subject of the project and its functionality primarily inform the design and materials we use. If it’s a spatial project as opposed to an object or furniture piece, then the outlook is completely different. Materials can both be chosen in reaction to an overarching look or drive the concept of a piece entirely. Something that we find quite easy is never to take a material at face value but rather how can we stretch that material and utilise it in unconventional ways or can it be elevated by a different style of craftsmanship. That is really at the heart of what we do.
What do you think makes a good project, and what is your favourite project you’ve worked on so far?
When the collaboration with clients and designers meets a perfect equilibrium with the freedom of creativity! It’s the Holy Grail of project work! Flexibility to explore the areas that you want to go in and the feeling that a client trusts this really allows for projects to succeed. Vice versa, we need to be pushed in directions by clients to travel down paths we wouldn’t ordinarily take. It’s hard to pick a favourite project because they all have their highs…. Recently, on one of our smaller projects though, we made four outside tables topped with Durat for a high-end residential project. They were the perfect combination of working with a substantial amount of material that we love and working on new processes and finishing techniques. This was combined with some engineering requirements due to their location and heavy duty metal work. We were over the moon with the clients response to the simplicity and aesthetic of the final product.
You’ve worked with three of the materials we partner with – Durat, Bencore and Richlite – what do you like about them?
They all have unique qualities that we can apply in a multitude of projects. This makes them go-to materials. Richlite for us is a staple of our diet, a material we use all the time and never hesitate to recommend. We love the way it looks, the way it behaves over time, the ways it patinates, leathers and wares. It serves so many functions for so many objects and furniture types. We’ll try and work it into any project we have!
Durat we are using more and more at the moment in a variety of projects. People are really buzzing about it right now because of it’s fresh, current aesthetic and we are learning so much about its qualities and applications. The ultimate bonus of Durat is the variety and vivacity of the colours, when colour matched - as we’ve done for some of the SDS stall elements - its just a real joy to look at. Combined with its value as a recycled product, it's a real material of its time.
Bencore is a one off material that has a real unique application and creative quality. Standard panelling can be transformed by the atmospheric diffusions of light that you can achieve with Bencore and can create truly immersive environments. The innovation of the product to the standard that it is, is impressive and we are constantly trying to work out just how they manage to do it!
Are you working on anything interesting right now?
We have a range of interesting projects on at the moment - it’s a very exciting start to the year. From a bespoke feature staircase, to prototyping an in-house composite panel, designing and making a full warehouse office fit-out to the renovation of an existing climbing centre are just a few… there is a lot to be getting on with!