On this day, exactly three years ago, we were delivered a pile of scrap wood, which would soon become our home for the next three years - The Red Shed. With less than a month left before its final days, we decided to share the whole story of how it came to be...
In September 2016, our sister company, Kidesign, was offered an amazing space in a converted warehouse in Lambeth, just 10min from Westminster. The space used to be a London Fire Brigade service workshop for fire engines but was abandoned for over 10 years. Once U+I, the developers, took over the site, they decided to turn it into a creative hub called The Workshop, a meanwhile use space for creative start-ups, charities and artists. Kidesign and Department 22 were lucky to have one of the spaces, within a fantastic community with the likes of Institute of Imagination, Migration Museum and others.
That autumn we realised it would quickly get very cold in the warehouse and we would need a “space within a space” to be able to work in there. Coincidentally, I was at a London Design Festival event in Kings Cross where they had built six temporary full-size “monopoly-style” houses for an exhibition. As I found out, they were going to skip them at the end, so with some Russian language skills and some “financial rewards”, I persuaded one of the builders to deliver the wood to our warehouse rather than to the skip. And so we got a pile of wood, but it wasn’t exactly an Ikea kit with a manual, but quite the opposite and a nightmare to assemble! Luckily, my co-founder Tom is a carpentry magician, and together with Clare, the three of us managed to construct the Red Shed in around 10 days.
Everything we used for constructing it was materials that would’ve otherwise gone to waste, and so we extended that approach to the fit-out as well. We’ve built all the shelves and tables from leftover wood from exhibitions, we’ve sourced all chairs, drawers and equipment from freecycle and therefore managed to build a fully functioning office with zero-waste and subsequently zero-budget. The other beauty of having a wooden shed for an office is that you can keep upgrading it whenever you need to, eg. screw in some coat-hangers, add a projector shelf to the roof or even attach a basketball rim to the outside wall, for some afternoon fun
ver the last three years, this has been our office, studio and workshop for building models and projects. We also used it as an exhibition space (our London 2026 show, Margarita Mitrovic’s 100 Trees project), an events space for lectures and talks (Roulette Networking, Circular Economy Club), creative workshops (Kidesign, Bartlett, AirBnB experiences), concerts (multiple Sofar Sounds) and much much more. We even managed to embed it into our logo, which is a Red Shed turned into a crest. Incredibly, the hex code for the shed’s red colour is #d22222!
Unfortunately, the moment has come to say goodbye to The Workshop and the Red Shed and for Department 22 and Kidesign to move on to a new home after Christmas 2019. We are incredibly sad to be leaving it, but are also excited by new opportunities. As we are vacating the space, the Red Shed and its contents are on offer, so if you are looking for a beautiful wooden shed or some furniture and office supplies, please get in touch now!
By Dejan Mitrovic
Watch the video made by U+I