Multidisciplinary design boutique ilovedust just might be one of those companies you’ve always dreamed about working for. (It has a skateboarding ramp incorporated into its workspace interior, after all.) Creative Director Mark Graham gives us a whirl around its offices on the south coast of England — one of three locations where you can find this growing firm specializing in everything from graphic design and illustration to animation and trend prediction.
Tell us a little about ilovedust itself.
We are a design studio based in London, the south coast of England, and now Portland, Oregon. Our south coast and Portland studios deal with illustration and graphic projects and our London studio handles more motion-based projects and animations.
We create work and collections for the likes of Nike, Karl Lagerfeld, Xbox, Red Bull, and Gatorade. We are a good mix of designers from all over the world. England, Iceland, Germany, South Africa, Spain, and China all make up the dynamic of our studio, and we pull from all these cultures within our work.
What year was the firm established? What led to that point?
Ilovedust started in 2003. Myself and my business partner Ben Beach — whom I struck up a friendship with whilst working at a clothing company — often talked about what we would do differently. In 2003, it was time to put our money where our mouths were, so I remortgaged my house and we started ilovedust. It was touch and go for a fair few years, to be honest, and we worked on some horrendous jobs. But we’re big believers in experience and we certainly cut our teeth on some “interesting” jobs in our formative years. (I say that like we’re 100 years old!) But truth be told, we are still learning and making mistakes every day. It’s part of being creative, I guess.
What inspired the name?
We used to hang out and work in a dusty old basement that eventually flooded — wires and computers in four inches of water. How we didn’t blow up I will never know. The name “dust” was derived from that basement, and we put “I love” on for the website. It kind of stuck.
Tell us what you’re passionate about, what inspires you, and where you’re going.
Inspiration for us comes from everywhere. I don’t think there a specific place or resource. There is so much on the internet these days, but I think we all still get great inspiration from the people we meet and the things we see walking the streets, visiting supermarkets, and traveling — it all informs and educates what we do. I guess we have filters to take ideas and imagery from all over and let it influence our work, whether it’s the hot-sauce aisle in Whole Foods or a getting lost in a shady back street in Shanghai. It all spills out back at the studio.
Tell us about your space. Were there any special considerations that influenced the set up? What would you change if you could?
All of our studios are heavily inspired by upcycling furniture and using recycled wood, old floorboards, scaffold boards, and shuttering. We worked with fairly limited budgets and visited thrift stores and antique fairs for extra bits that bring some of our character through into the interiors. There are always things to discover, little touches and little extras.
Our south coast studio is just having a little bakery area fitted so we can cook up muffins and biscuits during the day and take a break from the computer screen. The area sits just in front of our mini skateboarding ramp, which also helps break up the day (and a few bones). We spend so much time in our spaces we want to have a place that inspires us and, of course, that allows us to skateboard around!
You have Mirra chairs and several Eames pieces in your space. Why did you choose them?
I have to thank my dad for the inspiration. He used to sell Herman Miller chairs back in the day and it was his pride and joy that he had an Eames marble table with a nice mix of Eames Soft Pad management chairs and mesh chairs around it. I guess for that reason alone I have always associated Herman Miller with style and quality so it was a no-brainer to furnish our studio with Herman Miller pieces. We have a nice mix from DCWs and Soft Pads to some older fiberglass Eames Eiffels. The nice thing about all these pieces is it doesn’t matter where you put them — they always seem to make the space just a little bit cooler.