So hello and welcome to this month’s Designer Spotlight. For anyone new to my blog this is where I get to shine a light on a designer who I think is particularly inspirational and to kick the new year off I bring you one of my most favourite interior design powerhouses; 2LG Studio. I first met the boys back in 2013 when Jordan entered in the very first series of The Great Interior Design Challenge which was on BBC2. He slayed the competition all the way up to the final where he was pipped to the win by vintage supremo Sarah Moore (now of Money for Nothing fame). But in the true tradition of runners up Jordan, along with his husband Russell, have carved out an astonishingly successful business as an interior design studio, product designer and general media whore! Success couldn’t have come to two nicer, and more talented folk. So let’s find out what their magic is!
Based in London 2LG Studio have carved out an extensive portfolio of residential, commercial and collaborative projects, all with their unique approach and style. They rent out their stunning home for photoshoots, regularly appear in the press, create some astonishingly cool product ranges and dress some of the most fabulous homes in London. They are big on colour and have a very real sense of individual style. If you don’t know them already, I think you’re going to love them.
Before your appearance on The Great Interior Design Challenge you both had previous careers in acting, and ran a coffee shop. How easy was it to make the transition into a totally new business?
It was a transition over a period of five years before we actually launched our interior design business 5 years ago, so it was a long process. At times it was very difficult, but we went with our instincts and slowly got to a point where we knew we were ready to dive in. No one talks about the hard times, but we have had many knock-backs and faced many obstacles along the way. We are very grateful to have each other to keep on track and get through the tough times. We both wanted to be actors from a very young age and loved working in that profession for almost ten years so it was a major wrench to move on from that, but we love what we do now, so it was worth it.
What advice would you give someone embarking on a 2nd career?
Allow yourself to do all the things you didn’t let yourself do the first time around. It can be incredibly exciting getting the chance to do it all again with hindsight. First time around we took it very seriously and judged ourselves too harshly sometimes. A second career can be a chance to do it for you and to be more kind to yourself. That is easier said than done sometimes but we try. You can also draw on so much of your experience from your first career, they may be totally different but many things can be applied to help you, so don’t think you have to wipe the slate clean and start off as a new person. All of your experience will help you and is valuable to you.
You have quite a distinctive look and colour palette on your Instagram feed, why is this important in terms of marketing your business?
Our look and colour palette have evolved with us as designers. It is not something we focus on. It just is. It’s where we are at right now and we try not to overthink that. Some of the strength is in the fact it is flowing with us as we create new work. The Instagram feed 2LGStudio, is great in that way because it’s fun to look back and see patterns and you can transition through different phases. In terms of marketing, we hope that our followers have come on that journey with us and that new followers can dive in where we are now. It is important to be true when marketing your business and that’s what we try to do. Instagram is an amazing part of our life and has been from the beginning of our design business. We love it. We are all distinctive and we love to follow lots of different people on insta to keep it fresh and exciting.
You were invited to design a garden office pod at The Ideal Home Show, with an environmental approach, was this a challenging project?
This was so much fun. We love to work with sustainable materials and this project gave us the chance to showcase some amazing new products. Like cork flooring, vegan leather, recycled plastic surfaces, and cork cushions. That’s why we decided to take colour out of the equation for this one, to let the textures and different surfaces be the star. It was an interesting exercise for us because we love colour and so we got a lot out of trying something completely different. We also got to show off our latest wallpaper collection for Graham & Brown with an exclusive sneak peek. We had the challenge of working with an arc space, the ceiling was curved, so we wrapped it in our London Plane mural, based on our photography of tree bark. It tied together themes of nature and sustainability in a visual way and connected the whole pod to its supposed outdoor setting. It was a live-work studio space but we like to call it a ‘Love/Work’ space. Plus we had the chance to work with you, Soph, so we jumped at it. We just want to spend our time working with people we love, and you are one of them.
Awe, shucks, sending the love right back at ya! I’m bringing my office home, it’s been epic! What are your top tips for a successful home office and getting the right work/life balance?
This is a really interesting one because we have always worked from home. Even before we started 2LG Studio, we worked on learning scripts and audition material at home as actors. So it comes very naturally to us. I think we would feel like fish out of water in an office environment. Generally, home and workspaces are becoming more and more alike. People want to experience nice things at work as well as at home. We took a long time working out the positions of our studio space in our current renovation. At one point it was going to be a separate space downstairs with extra breakout storage in a writing room upstairs. We were going to keep the dining room and kitchen blocked off from the studio. This would have meant the studio was in the middle of the house where there is the least natural light. Then we stopped and thought, work is our life, we love our business. Why put it in a separate room. So now the whole of the back of our house is open and we work, cook, dine, entertain in one big studio space that transforms for different needs. The key to that has been storage. Enough storage to transform the space from office to dining when we want to. It is so lovely to spend our working day in the best part of the house with a view of the garden and a bed for Buckley, our wonder dog, of course. We have kept the front sitting room separate and put in a log burner and a big soft comfy sofa. So at the end of the day we can retreat to that room and feel like we are in a totally different place.
How does your relationship work – working and living together, what’s your secret?
We are very lucky to have each other and feel that working together is a total privilege. It has taken time to understand our different approaches and learn ways to communicate our ideas effectively to each other, it was easy at first to assume we were on the same page because we know each other so well. So that took time to evolve. But the strength comes from the fact we are completely different and have very different aesthetics. It has been amazing to put those two styles together and come up with our own visual language. Sometimes we argue like cat and dog of course but that is because we both care so much about it. It’s a necessary part of the process sometimes, but we have learned to pick our battles and we ultimately respect each other massively.
You’ve smashed it in terms of press publicity and have your own column in the Metro, what are your top tips for media success?
Yes, we love writing our weekly column for Metro because it is completely different from our design work. Seeing the questions come in is always fun. People are obsessed with kitchens and bathrooms, that’s for sure. The rest of the press that we get is a slow burn. We try to let it happen and we do all of that ourselves so it can be overwhelming sometimes. We are always so grateful to be thought of and included. The past year has been incredible and we have had some major milestones that we used to dream of. But several of those pieces began life over 2 years ago. It takes time to deliver new products and new projects so we try to keep our heads down and focus on the work as much as possible. If the work is good then the rest will follow.
Your distinctive style has resulted in some fabulous brand collaborations. Where do your ideas come from and how to you pick companies to join forces with?
We like people and are fascinated by the process. Some of the collabs have come from simply meeting someone we love, often when we have specified their product for a client interior design project. Others have come about because we were looking for a product and could not find what we were looking for so we went out and found someone to make it with. Collaboration as a concept is something we learned working for 10 years as actors. Theatre, TV, and film are about as collaborative as it gets. From the writer to the director, the actor, the dresser, the lighting designer, the sound team, the set designer, the front of house staff. All are important and all have a part to play in making this one thing come to life. It is a way of working that comes naturally to us and we love being around lots of creative people. It is fun.
What does a typical working day look like?
No two days are the same and that is how we like it. Today we are in the studio with our team, working on designs for a new project, writing (this Q&A) and answering emails. Tomorrow we have a new client meeting and then a site visit for a project that is halfway through. The end of the week we have a shoot at the house and then a meeting for a product we are working on. As well as daily insta updates and many many WhatsApp messages with people we are working with on joinery for products or new product throughout the day. We have built our business to be multi-faceted deliberately so that we keep mentally active.
What’s big for 2019?
Veganism! All the way – it extends beyond diet.
You can contact 2LG Studio on the website or following them on Instgram