As part of our ongoing collaboration with Squarespace we are delighted to present a great little interview as part of the Squarespace Studio Series with Richard from Psalt Design Studio. Psalt Design are a Sheffield based studio which specialise in furniture design and manufacture. Taking advantage of the rich history in manufacturing in Sheffield, the boys, David Powell and Richard Bell are creating a host of striking products.
Can you describe the journey from your home to studio?
We usually ride to the studio each morning and try to get in pretty early so we can get together a plan of action for the day over a cup of tea. Sheffield has some really good cycle paths and there is always lots of beautiful things to see on our way in including Park Hill flats, the Showroom and street art by the likes of ‘Kid Acne’, ‘Phlegm’ and ‘Rocket01’. There is also currently a great art showcase around the city called ‘The Herd of Sheffield’ which means we get to cycle past fiberglass elephants painted by local artists.
What is the area like where your studio is based in terms of shops, galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants, amenities, etc.? Do you have much interaction with others, creative or otherwise, in the locality?
Our studio is based in a building called Persistence Works, which is ran by Yorkshire Artspace. There are around 80 creatives working in this building which means there is a really exciting community and great opportunities to collaborate. We are based really close to the train station and are only a 10 minute walk into town which is great. ‘Made North’ gallery is attached to the end of our block which regularly curates fantastic exhibitions and the ‘Site Gallery’ is also on our street which has some great showcases too.
Any daily routines that help you start the day?
The shower is a great place to gather your thoughts and I usually begin putting a plan for the day together here. After breakfast the cycle in really helps set me up for the day and get me in the zone to be creative. We usually begin the day by coming up with a plan of action and then try to get all of the admin and business side of things done first. We then pack up the previous days orders and get them shipped. Once all of this is done we are a bit more free to get on with the creative aspect of the company.
Can you describe the layout and structure of your studio? How does the space affect your working practice and how has your practice impacted on your space?
We have a large open space with a studio space and a workshop area. Having these different spaces to work means we have a ‘clean’ space to do studio, admin and flatwork as well as an area where we can get our hands dirty when prototyping and manufacturing our products. The great thing about this is that both Dave and myself can comfortably work on a range of projects at the same time without getting in each other’s way.
How many people share the space?
There are two of us at Psalt Design and we currently share our workshop space with a metal worker called Darren Richardson. This has been great as we have been able to set up a workshop with a wider range of machinery which has been very handy when prototyping some of our more recent exploratory work which incorporates materials and processes we have not used before.
Can you talk us through your essential workshop/studio toolkit?
Everything starts with an idea and having a space where you can meet, talk and draw at the same time is hugely important. We have a long desk covered in doodles from the concept generation stage over the last 6 years. This has been the desk where a huge amount of our work has been conceived.
I also carry around a small notepad and pen everywhere I go. It is in the everyday where most of my ideas first begin to grow and it’s really important to get these down when they are fresh.
I am also interested in photography so have collected a huge amount of inspirational imagery over the years. Having this organized well really helps as it has really helped us document our though process and develop our ideas.
Do you surround yourself with objects that inspire or comfort you? If so can share some of your favourite “things” in your studio and why you love them?
It’s definitely important to create an environment that stimulates you. I am really into brutalist architecture and being located so close to Park Hill flats and working from a concrete building inspires me greatly. We have a number of our ‘Myosotis Grande’ notice boards in front of our desk which have loads of things that drive us and the projects we are currently working on. At the moment we have a poster by Sheffield based company ‘Field Cycles’ and our award for an exhibition we showcased at in Serbia on our wall.
Is there music playing in the studio?
We often have music on in the studio. The genre depends greatly on the task at hand.
Are you still working in a discipline that you studied at college?
Yes we both met at Psalter Lane, (hence the name), at Sheffield Hallam University where we studied Furniture and Related Product Design. We both came out with First Class Honours in this subject and set up Psalt straight after studying.
Do clients visit your studio?
We regularly host open studio weekends where the public are invited in to our workshops to see what projects we are working on.
Do you work until it’s done or have a strict going home time?
We definitely work until it’s done and quite often after it’s done. Design is our life and we love what we do. It can be quite hard when your passion and job are one. Also, when running your own business it’s almost impossible to fully switch off as you will never complete the ‘To do’ list.
Evenings – still checking work emails or switched off and wound down?
After work I go to the gym and find this helps me switch off a little but I will usually end up doing some form of work at home in the evening. I just think that if you love what you do you will naturally find yourself doing that in any spare time you have.
Favourite piece of creative work in 2016
Yours: We have been working on a piece of shelving for a while which will be launched at this year’s London Design Festival. I’m really excited to see the public’s response to this and experiment with the finishes on the metalwork with this piece.
Someone else’s: I recently visited an exhibition in Newcastle called ‘The Saint’ which was hosted by ‘Unit-44’. This had some great work by the artist ‘Hush’ – I now really want a piece of his art for my house. There was also some lovely photography by an artist called, Jonny Wilson, that I really liked. The show as a whole was really inspirational.
The ‘Brutalist Playground’ by Assemble has also been a personal highlight this year.
Are there any trends you have noticed this year?
One thing we have become very interested in is the way we can shoot out product ranges in an original ‘lifestyle shoot’ style. I think a lot of companies are beginning to do this really well. ‘Droog’ had been doing it for years and now with so many online design stores and designers selling their work people are having to get a little more creative in the way they shoot their products. I think this will continue to develop over the next few years as many products get lost on sites where there are too many products.
Tell us about your find of the year?
- A pair of David Irwin ‘Working Girl’ stools online – the perfect addition for my new kitchen.
- “The technique of furniture making” by Ernest Joyce. This is the best book for any furniture maker. I was originally shown this whilst at University but got a great deal for it in a bookshop.
Tell us a bit about your favourite:
Exhibition: ‘London Design Festival’ is always great and has shows such as Design Junction, Tent London and 100% Design. I also love Milan Furniture Fair, especially the Zona Tortona area.
Event: Frank’s rooftop pop-up in Peckham. After a long day working on a stand there’s nowhere better to go for a beer and watch the sunset over the London skyline.
Gig: Milburn were a Sheffield band around just before the Arctic Monkeys and earlier in the year they reformed to play a few nights in their hometown, Sheffield.
Festival: Tramlines festival in Sheffield is always great. They have great bands on the main stage but it is usually in the small venues and pubs where you find the real gems.
Meal: There’s a great little Mexican, ‘The Street Food Chef’, just around the corner from our studio where we end up a lot more than we should.
Song: The Crookes – I love you bridge. Written about Park Hill flats in Sheffield. We recently worked on a project there!
Album: Kolsch – 1977.
Book: Pretty Much Everything – Aaron Draplin, DDC.
Film: Objectified – Gary Hustwit
To celebrate our partnership with Squarespace, they are offering OFFSET fans 10% off their services. Sign up here and upgrade your account using the discount code OFFSET16 to get 10% off.
Photos by Gemma Thorpe.