Studio Build offers a glimpse into its industrial home in Leeds

With the 'northern powerhouse' fast ramping up to full throttle, it's no surprise that Studio Build chose Leeds for its new abode. After 15 years in London, founders Nicky and Michael decided it was time to relocate back to their home turf.

Build is an award-winning creative agency with a solid reputation for creating strong visual narratives. Utilising art direction and graphic design, the team creates brand identities, websites, packaging and books for design-led clients around the world, including the Design Museum, Getty Images and

The team kindly invited us to check out their creative space, set in a heritage building overlooking the heart of Leeds.

Describe your work space

Our new studio is based on the first floor of a former steel pin factory built in the early 19th century. Designed by Thomas Shaw in 1864, the Tower Works building was influenced by his love for Italian architecture and art — hence the three towers that sit around the building, which served as chimneys when the building became a factory.

With views of the Leeds/Liverpool canal as well as Leeds City Centre, our studio sits in the redeveloped part of the Tower Works building, surrounded by other creative, digital and media businesses. The space as a whole is massive, offering open areas for meetings as well as communal kitchens, with creative design work showcased throughout the whole building.

Our studio is light and modern with exposed beams and sash windows. We sit on desks created by our client, Plaey, and hold meetings on our bespoke table designed by Studio Octopi and created by AJ&B. It’s a good sized space full with design books and materials, it’s enjoyable, stress-free and a good place to work in.

Why have you moved there?

We (Nicky and Michael) lived in Leeds for many years before taking some time out to go travelling in 2000 and then heading to London to set up the studio in 2001. We had 15 fantastic years in London and it really is one of the world’s most amazing cities, but we started to feel that we’d lost connection with the ‘outside world’! It's so easy to be inside the ‘London bubble’ and forget that life goes on elsewhere.

As the years went on I, (Michael), started thinking more and more about my home county of Yorkshire. All my family lived there, my parents weren’t getting any younger and I realised we were missing out on a lot of family events. I always said to myself from the fairly early days of our life down South that I felt that I was cheating a little by being in London…I didn’t feel that I had really ‘made it’ until I moved back to Yorkshire and worked from there. So the short of it was that we missed Yorkshire!

What’s the creative scene like in Leeds?

The creative scene in Leeds is very different to that of London. Leeds is obviously much smaller than London, and in comparison they don’t have as many design studios. It’s probably on the map as being a much more digitally focused city, but when you live and work here you get a real sense that is now shifting.

London is very good at self promotion and has a very established design scene. Leeds, and the North as a whole really, is still evolving, and that’s exciting for opportunities.

There are some really great studios doing some exciting stuff, everyone is friendly and everyone helps people out, which is really great. More people are open up here, which means there’s a real level of camaraderie between studios, which makes it a great place to work.

Favourite corners/bits of furniture/accessories?

Our new desk tops designed and installed by Plaey. Our ever-faithful meeting table designed by Studio Octopi and built by AJ&B. The studio speaker OD-11 by Teenage Engineering, and our book collection.

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