Aloof aims to shine a light on the best brands and companies operating in the independent market right now, from all over the world. Those under the radar of the wider consciousness but with great stories to tell and a unique perspective on the nuts and bolts of building a brand.
Workshop Studios have emerged as one of the most exciting companies to come out of the bustling Bristol creative scene. They are an ever-changing, ever-growing force, with each drop promising a new technique, silhouette or graphic. Our very first interview with Swamp Breed name checked Workshop as another brand we needed to get to know. 10 months later, we delivered on Joe's recommendation and sat down with them to find out just what it is they're all about.
Aloof Studio (AS): Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do?
Workshop Studios (WS): Workshop Studios is a Utilitarian Design Brand that produces a range of lifestyle products, garments and accessories inspired by Graphic Design, and is intended to promote new ideas and learning to develop your skills. We are probably most well known for our hand made pieces which are constructed in Bristol, such as our range of totes and side bags, or our hand made jackets.
AS: How did Workshop Studios start?
WS: Workshop Studios started from a love of Graphic Design and a desire to use those techniques and skills to make clothing that promoted learning and growth. Bags were the thing that really got Workshop Studios started, thinking about how to construct these in a way that was strong, rigid and utilitarian, but applying an almost grid-like design style, Coming from a graphic design background meant that they may have a design style not seen before. It led on to looking at how we could make this sustainable and use of what we had around us to create what is currently known as ‘Scraps’.
AS: Bristol is the epicentre of what Workshop does. How does Bristol influence the brand creatively?
WS: Bristol for us, has alway been a melting pot for new ideas and acceptance of contrasting styles. We love how fast paced and developing the city is and how people are always sharing their inspirations. It's hard to compare with other cities until you have fully lived and breathed a city, we are still yet to explore and be more involved with a variety of other cities but are keen to do so.
AS: It feels like with every drop Workshop have moved on a little bit, exploring different avenues and trying new styles. Can you talk us through the thought process when it comes to looking at what you’ll work on next?
WS: Thank you! Ideas spark heavily from what we have been influenced by recently, but also heavily from taking previous ideas and developing them further. Taking a concept and almost pushing it to the extreme, just to see what works. You should see the amount of failed bag ideas we have, maybe one day we'll share them!
AS: You’re no stranger to 1 of 1 pieces, having produced a jacket with Swamp Breed and launched your own upcycling project titled 'Scraps'. How does making unique items fit in with the Workshop brand?
WS: It’s always hard to let a beloved piece go, as with a lot of our items, it will be the first time we have released a piece with that pocket styling, that length of strap or that texture, but this is what we love doing. The appeal of having a totally unique item is the feeling of something being special, whether it means you have a personal link with it, or how you feel wearing the item.
AS: You teamed up with fellow Bristolians Swamp Breed earlier this year to release a collaboration. How did that come about and did you find there to be much of a challenge working with someone else?
WS: Working with Swamp Breed was a really natural collaboration. We have always supported each other and been keen to work together. As we work in different ways and originate from different disciplines, we wanted to find a way of shining a light on the strength of each of our identities. Trying to fully represent two brands with different aesthetics comes with its challenges, but I think we really brought a balance to what we produced and we will be looking
into doing more in the future.
AS: On your website a mock motel keyring sits on display not far from your riff on a flammable sticker. Do you feel like things need to tie in graphically for your brand image, or do you like the idea of things sitting separately at odds to each other?
WS: With what we produce at Workshop Studios, we don’t want any ideas to ever be static. We want to continuously be pushing ideas and learning and developing. The majority of these pieces will not always have a direct link, but feature a utilitarian and industrial thought process.
AS: If you wanted to learn a new process, say tye-dye or chain stitching, how would you go about taking that on? Do you have people you turn to for advice?
WS: New processes are at the heart of what we want to inspire and promote. When it comes to pushing a new idea, it’s all about jumping in at the deep end (with a lot of research!) and seeing what works and what doesn’t. 90% of the time, due to the experimentation, the original idea will change and develop, but that's all part of the process.
AS: What advice would you give to someone who was looking at starting their own brand?
WS: Do it. Just get involved with what you enjoy and experiment. Whether what you are going to create right now is what you will create in the future isn't important, at least you're finding things out and developing a style and identity.
AS:What can we expect to see in the future from Workshop Studios?
WS: We want to lean more heavily on our passion for hand made items and equipment for every day life, whilst also looking at how we can promote a sense of process and learning. Not to sound cliché, but to us, everyday is a school day and keeping your mind active and learning is the best way forward.