It’s no secret that East London is stomping ground to some of the most esteemed creatives in the world; the area is well known for championing the fashion, music and arts scene, but it is also home to a trove of 3D visualisers, architects and product designers that deserve recognition. Hidden away in their design caves, they spend daylight hours taking their imagination to daring, inventive, tangible levels - from simple ideals to awesome realities. Not your run-of-the-mill change makers, here’s the low-down on the most interesting urban and cultural landscapers currently gracing the E postcode area.
Taking a pop cultural standpoint on all things geeky, Super/Collider aims to make science super fun through the conceptualisation and design of projects, events, products and published works. Based in Hong Kong and in London on Hackney’s Mare Street, this studio stands true to its indie environments; exploring and merging industries as far and wide as architecture and fashion, and disciplines as varied as biology and space.
This month sees them channel their creative efforts into all things geological and astronomical; crafting jewellery and hosting workshops in celebration of the random angular beauty of crystals and minerals, while installing lasers and producing homeware inspired by the visuals of interstellar cloud bursts. The galaxy of Super/Collider is more vast than any can imagine...
From private homes to public commissions, Office Sian is an architecture firm based in London Fields that has won awards galore, and for good reason. Channelling the localities partiality towards restored spaces over bland new builds, the studio is known largely for grassroots projects that work in harmony with the urban aesthetic while allowing natural elements to filter through from the outside in, lead by master craftsman Gurmeet Sian.
A great example is the Hackney Shed; a domestic garden design that got rid of the asbestos and spiders from the creaky hut of old, and replaced it with a new age office and library that's environment-aware. The box-like structure opens up into a shaded veranda thanks to completely retractable full length doors; its warm oak panelling delivering respite from the metallics of modern office technology, while the roof light and ladder shelves conjure feelings of a hidey-hole that's perfect for getting lost in the winding narrative of a quiet read.
Something & Son
Something & Son have been double teaming on socially and environmentally sustainable design projects since 2008, from the streets of Hackney to the reaches of Istanbul, Milan and South Korea. Their inspiring ventures are not only fun to interact with and beautiful to look at, but also contribute to eco-friendly causes regardless of the shape and size of the working space. Some of their noteworthy endeavours include sustainable farming initiatives like a rooftop poly-tunnel plantation hidden behind a retro fish and chip shop in Folkstone, and an aquaponics smallholding tucked away in Dalston Farm cafe/workspace.
The duo have also dabbled in performance design, with a recent stint at Somerset House which saw fans watch PJ Harvey record her upcoming album live in action; it proved so popular that it crashed the venue’s website when tickets went up for sale. Their most recent outing is a rare meeting of luxury and sustainability with North East London’s first ever eco-friendly spa and bar; Barking Bathhouse boasts a beach, sauna and ‘cucumber canopy', allowing patrons to be pampered safe in the knowledge that no harm has come to the environment during their steamy sauna sesh.
Young, cool and soulful describes Studio Weave to the T. Based in Dalston, this lot are locally engaged and internationally minded; working wonders on public, private and commercial briefs for architectural commissions and product design requirements from the UK and abroad. The mostly female team (there’s also the South Korean founder, another bloke, the mandatory coffee machine and a few knitted bears to justify the company name) melds into its environments and finds inspiration in its surrounds.
Brick by brick, they've built a portfolio that is a festival of imagination; from a lullaby factory at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where soothing harmonies whiz through pipes and are churned out of huge rattling brass transmitters, to a loft that stands tall amongst woodland, resting on timber stilts and painted in colourful geometrics by the very community it was built for.
Technology Will Save Us
Nominated for Designs of the Year, Technology Will Save Us is a haberdashery for technology and education; dedicated to helping people produce output and not just consume primarily through the Do It Yourself movement. Using everyday life as inspiration and tapping into their own passions (21st century stuff like music, gardening, cycling and video games), it's no surprise the startup's most popular product is a DIY Gamer Kit. The build-it-yourself console allows big and little kids to piece together their very own lean mean graphic computing machine with step-by-step guidance on how to solder forty parts of a custom circuit board and how to program their own games onto it.
Another popular kit for the young'uns is the DIY Electro Playdough, giving full creative license to children to build their own electronic toys and models from scratch. For a broader range of ages there's a DIY Thirsty Plant Kit that alerts the green fingered as to when it’s time to water their leafy friends, and a DIY Synth Kit for homespun spacey beat-making. Focused on modern era learning, Technology Will Save Us produce these hands-on bundles of fun for individuals in the home as well as for workshops held in schools and children's coding groups, while inspirational talks and interactive events spread the positive tech message around the world.