It's always nice to have a nose around someone's workspace and this time we're taking a peek at the home of four23 – a communication design studio, founded in 2004 by Warren Bramley who began his career in 1998 at Manchester's iconic record label Factory Records, famous for Joy Division and New Order.
Mentored by Factory Records founder, the late Anthony H Wilson, it was a period that was very influential in his later thinking behind four23.
They are currently a 24 strong team working within their Berry Street studio in Clerkenwell, as well as with a network of regular collaborators. While based in London, their projects and clientele are all around the world.
So what's it like to work there? A single visit to the four23 studio will have you immediately aware of its strong culture – which stems from Warren’s unique style of leadership. We went along to take a look and find out more...
Before we talk about your current space, has London always been your home?
four23 started in Manchester. The building that housed our first studio, in the Castlefield basin of the city, had a letterpress printing business on the ground floor and we rented the top floor which had a pitched roof. So we christened the studio, the Apex, and had a neon sign made that hung outside the building, which is still in our studio in London today. A reminder of where and how we started. We moved the studio fully to London in 2012.
Describe the current studio
The studio was designed by Harriet Paterson, four23’s Spacial Design Director.
When we took the space it was simply four brick walls and 360-degree windows. At the first design meeting Harriet brought a photograph of a beautiful brass and oak toolbox and explained to us that the toolbox represented the four23 studio – how the individual tools each had their own role: their own specialist ability to help craft, how every tool in the box had its own place and when everything was placed together it was a full tool set from which you could craft anything. It was very insightful metaphor about four23 and within six months of this conversation our studio became our own brass and oak toolbox.
Aesthetically, everything in the studio has been lovingly curated, from the Vignelli calendar to the Carlo Mollino table, the Braun calculators. This makes it a very creative place to spend time.
What's it like working at four23?
There's a strong emphasis on culture, with a very specific on-boarding program. On the first day everyone receives a copy of ‘A Precocious Autobiography’, it's then passed on to the next new starter; a mandatory thick 6B lead pencil; their own Anglepoise lamp, and an unlined Moleskine notebook, embossed with a quote from David Hockney: 'To sketch is to see things more clearly'.
They also receive a lined Action Method book c/o the 99U conference in NY; a Muuto water bottle, a remote audio speaker that when switched on will automatically play music from the evolving four23 Spotify playlist and finally – a four23 pin badge with colour selection of red, mustard, blue or black.
Have you got an inspiring workspace?
Our popular Studio Tours give our audience a sneak peek inside creative workspaces across the globe. From tiny home studios and co-working spaces to some of the world's leading agencies and creative brands – we love to find out what your office looks like.
Think you've got something great to show us? Email the details and a few sample photographs of your workspace to [email protected].
Photography by Paul Massey. Styling by Harriet Paterson. Images courtesy four23.