We know So for the graphic design and photography work it’s created for Herman Miller in the UK (see an example here). And now we know it for its inspiring surroundings: a converted barn in Bristol in the southwest of England. In his own words, Creative Director Steve Haskins gives us a personal tour.
I set up So design consultants in 2000 — an agency where the focus is to break the boundaries of creative design and deliver a passion for intelligent, individual creativity. We established a small team of focused individuals and created a platform where our aspirations for commercial fine art could be reached, rather than for financial gain.
We have been working with Herman Miller for six years and enjoy the shared passion for good quality and useful design. (I love the SAYL chair as a piece of design and the way it looks. I always like to relate good to design to inspiration, and the influence of the Golden Gate Bridge to the design of SAYL is obvious.) Our first commission from Herman Miller is still one of our favourite pieces of work. We created a brochure that brought together the heritage of Herman Miller, its roots in design and craftsmanship, and showcased products using beautiful lifestyle photography.
The So studio has always been based on Greenway Farm. We originally worked from an old cowshed with whitewashed stonewalls, a wood-burning stove, and an outside loo. Our state-of-the-art Apple Macs were a great contrast to the rather primitive but inspired surroundings. Quite often I would be on the phone to a client as a lorry load of cows was being unloaded. These surroundings fuel our creativity.
Four years ago, we moved to an adjacent newly converted barn. We worked with the farmer throughout the barn-conversion process to create a light and airy space that’s been built to exacting environmental standards. The glass front to the barn means that we can stay in tune with the ever-changing countryside outside. Chickens make a regular visit to our door and we watch the doves return to the Dovecote that is an integral part of our barn roof.
Long library globe lights hang from the 25-foot high ceilings. Custom-made glass and oak trestle desks line both sides of the studio. The glass desktops add to the openness of the studio. All our workstations have Aeron chairs — the classic design looks fantastic with the simple design of the desks and the designers love them.
The mezzanine floor is our meeting space with a glass boardroom table and supportive seating. Objects of beauty adorn our walls, which link to the heritage of the building: best of breed animals; tools to perform; a vision of creativity. An extensive library of books provides constant inspiration.
We get our inspiration from everything in life. Every day breathes new energy and influences from colour, music, people, things that touch our senses. We live and breath design — design for life!
Photos: Steve Haskins/So Design Consultants