´The Studio Is Our Calling Card´

A Conversation with Ilse Crawford

Ilse Crawford is a designer, academic and creative director based in London. Her mission is to put human needs and desires at the centre of all that she does. As founder of Studioilse and together with her multi-disciplinary team, she brings her philosophy to life. This means creating environments where humans feel comfortable. Now she has opened the doors of her studio for an interview with Vitra, in which she talks about her understanding of workspaces and elaborates on the role of a special piece of furniture — a Vitra classic — at Studioilse.

How would you describe the “mood” in Studioilse’s office?

´Our studio feels informal and domestic in atmosphere, while still allowing us to function as a creative studio. Not to mention being robust enough to survive approximately 20 of us co-habiting with our favourite lumps of stone and wood. We used natural materials in the fundamentals - large oak desks, a wood floor, proper rugs, real furniture, largely loose fit lighting and lots of planting - to create a lively space that would engage the senses.

As in many homes the kitchen is the heart of our studio. We have consciously made it a proper domestic kitchen with a serious cooker and a large table which we gather around daily. The studio is our calling card. It`s a place where we can host clients and friends, where they can step inside and understand who we are, our ways of working and what we stand for.´
´Investing in a high quality and human work environment shows your staff that they, and their skills, are invested in.´

Among other products, you have chosen the Eames Soft Pad Chairs. What was the reason behind this choice?

´The classics have stood the test of time. We chose the Eames Soft Pad Chairs because they are solid, comfortable, adjustable, and well made. More like proper furniture than contract pieces, they feel good and look good. Although it’s important to remember they were extremely progressive once. Many standard office furnishings today are tied up with looking technological (without actually being so) and are more concerned with being wipe down than giving any material pleasure.

We spend such a large percentage of our time at work that we believe it should be a place where people feel good, grounded and motivated. Investing in a high quality and human work environment shows your staff that they, and their skills, are invested in.´

Why are design classics still relevant today when planning an office?

´The advantage of buying classics from good companies is that they will still hold their own in ten years time. They are not only well designed and but companies like Vitra take ongoing responsibility and care for their products going forward. The Eames Soft Pad Chairs travelled with us from our old studio - our first major spend in the very early days of Studioilse - and they still look as good as when we first bought them.

Also an added bonus is that they are a smart investment. Should the time ever come when I need to move them on, they should hold onto much of their value, and easily be able to find new homes. In this respect they are rather sustainable. However, more than 15 years down the line, the studio consensus remains that they are not going anywhere anytime soon.´
Discover more interviews, features and case stories in 'Classics in the Office'. 'Classics in the office' is the first issue of the newspaper about work series– a collection of studies about office culture and the future of the working world.

Publication date: 15.2.2019
Images: StudioIlse, Helen Cathcart, Leslie Williamson

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