Sheffield design shortlisted for coveted international award
12 February 2018
Picture credit: 93ft
Award-winning Sheffield design agency 93ft is responsible for a raft of beautiful designs across the UK and Europe.
Locally, this includes one of Kelham Island’s coolest venues The Chimney House, vintage Derbyshire bike race Eroica Britannia and the Warp Films office at Park Hill.
But it’s their interior architecture of Albert Works – the new Sheffield headquarters of international creative agency Jaywing on Sidney Street, which has five UK offices and one in Sydney, Australia – that is currently earning them global recognition.
In being shortlisted for the Frame Awards – an annual event that highlights the world’s best interiors – they’re the only UK studio in the Small Office of the Year category, beating 849 entries from around the world in the process.
The transformation of this 18th century former cutlery factory was one of the first completed in the £10m extension of the Cultural Industries Quarter, which also includes the Alsop Fields development led by another Sheffield company, City Estates.
The building now boasts 25 rooms, a stunning atrium, four large cargo containers used for meetings and social space and a mezzanine-style ‘cloud walk’ that links the upper floors. Everything from the reception desk to the large canopy lighting was designed and manufactured in, or within a mile of, 93ft’s Neepsend Lane workshops.
It’s the blend of old and new – harnessing Sheffield’s rich industrial heritage to inspire modern ways of working – that 93ft’s creative director Tim Hubbard thinks gives them a good chance of winning.
“We’ve taken a building and an area that has had great times and also bad times and we’ve managed to give it this new lease of life,” he says.
“When you look at our entry compared to the others, some are absolutely stunning but in five years they’ll probably change it again. Whereas this will be the office for the next 20, 30, 50 years
“We’re not creating a brand here; we’re creating a legacy building.”
This authenticity, says Jaywing’s chief creative director David Wood, is reflective of Sheffield and its people. But it’s not just local Jaywing staff who use the new space and feedback from clients, which include Sky, Pepsi, HSBC and First Direct, has been ‘amazing’.
“I think we’re working better as a team, which means our clients get better results out of us,” David says. “And the building has sort of helped us and enhanced the way that we do that.
“The minute they walk through the door and they see this space open up in front of them, I think it changes their opinion about us. There’s a bit of a ‘wow’ factor.
“Then they come in, they fully experience the place and they hang around, they carry on working here, and even have their own away days here.”
This ‘wow factor’ is no accident, and has been a key part of the project since the beginning.
“Everybody who was involved in this project – the contractors, the architects, the designers, everybody – I think they realised they were creating something special,” says David. “And so they put that little bit more in that turned it from good to great and, at the end of it, everybody was super proud of what we’d created.”
It’s little wonder, then, that they’ve been shortlisted for an award that Tim describes as the pinnacle of the design industry. For him, this has been a lifetime ambition.
“I remember when I started 93ft 10-15 years ago having a Frame subscription, looking through the magazine and being so overwhelmed by the quality and creativity of those interior projects and I always dreamed of having a project in there,” he says.
“It’s just the fact that little old Sheffield and little old 93ft, and little old Jaywing to a certain degree, we’re in the running for one of the best offices in the world. It’s phenomenal.
“If this award was in the UK, this whole idea of industrial heartland or regeneration -it’s an old story. But on a global scale, made in Sheffield, British industry, regeneration carries real weight.”
To put the magnitude of their shortlisting into even greater context, the likes of Pinterest, Dropbox and Uber grace the Large Office of the Year category. This international attention is invaluable, says David, and is proof of what they’re all capable of.
“This kind of exposure around these awards, obviously it’s testament to these guys’ work in delivering this, but it’s great profile stuff for Jaywing to be seen to be a business that invests in its spaces and invests in its people in this way.”
For Tim and the 93ft team, Sheffield will remain their home no matter how big they grow, or which awards they win, and with every new job they instil their ‘made in Sheffield’ ethos.
Recent clients include The Pilgrim, a 78-room hotel in Paddington for which they did everything from brand to strategy, including all the digital work, the website, the interiors and making more than 1,000 pieces of furniture in Sheffield. Other recent projects include a large restaurant and co-working space in Barcelona, a large office in Hoxton, and branding and strategy for the Arthur Conan Doyle estate.
“Sheffield plays a huge part in the inspiration of what we do, but it doesn’t pigeonhole us and it doesn’t ring fence us,” he says.
“We’ve had lots of opportunities in the past to open an office in London and really push on but the fact that we’re based in Sheffield doesn’t mean that we can’t work for brilliant clients, global clients.”
In between managing this extensive client base, they’re prepping for the awards of a lifetime – and are encouraging everyone to support them in the public vote, which is open until 20 February at https://www.frameawards.com/nominees.
After voting has closed, they’ll go up against the other entrants live on stage in Amsterdam to defend and debate why they deserve to win in front of an international panel. This may sound brutal, but Tim says it’s worth every ounce of energy – for their reputation, and for Sheffield’s – if they walk away with the win.
In the meantime, Jaywing will almost certainly continue to grow, bolstered by their amazing new office, and 93ft continue to revitalise Sheffield’s industrial heartland with their renovation of The Mowbray in Kelham Island – another derelict building benefiting from their design expertise.
Whatever the outcome at the Frame Awards, will there be more trophies in the pipeline for these brilliant Sheffield companies? Absolutely.
Watch David and Tim talking about the project: Sheffield Creative Design Agency Shortlisted for International Award from Welcome to Sheffield on Vimeo.