Based in a former pen factory in east London, Here Design is a company of “thinkers, writers, designers, and makers working together to create beautiful and useful things”.
Their award-winning Designer and Co-Founder, Kate Marlow is positioned at the company’s helm, having art directed projects for the likes of Campari, Fortnum & Mason, Hauser & Wirth, and other big hitters.
Marlow joins us desk-side to discuss creative outlets, daily rituals, and why change is good.
How do you start your days?
Being a Gemini, I rollercoaster between Pilates at 6.30AM and refusal to wake until absolutely necessary. Black coffee is the one constant, as is the flurry of morning activity with two pre-teen girls.
What’s your go-to uniform?
I found a vintage Issey Miyake men’s shirt in a Dorset charity shop which I wear religiously. I also found an Isabel Marant shirt that is almost identical, and I interchange them. They are both timeless and effortless. Weather dependent I pair them with denim – shorts, skirts, or jeans. I’m happy heels are back, I resent that flats became my go-to shoe.
Describe your workspace/ workplace…
Here Design’s studio is a warehouse in London Fields. It used to be a factory for making fountain pens. Now we have three floors of studios and a central hub where we eat together and host events and workshops.
Working from home, I am in our lounge, which I’ve overridden with two huge pinboards full of pictures, sketches, and silk scarves, vintage comics and photographs.
Identify something in your workspace that’s special to you (and why)…
The paintings and pictures. The pencil sketch my mother drew of me and my siblings in the early 70s and the artwork by Alice Channer, who has been my friend since school. She gave me the painting after her first show at the Tate.
What are your workplace essentials?
The Mitsubishi Uni-ball Eye Pen, a black Sharpie, Here Design notebooks made for the studio by Mark & Fold, and on my desk, Albamhor hand cream in its jade, milk glass bottle, which the team at Here Design had the pleasure of creating for Hauser & Wirth. I’m really into the Loewe home fragrance Tomato Leaves too; if I’m working from home it smells like I’m in a hothouse.
What time of day are you at your most creative?
Any time. It is dependent on the connection to the project and the challenge or the urgency. Sometimes I’ll wake up and have worked something through whilst sleeping.
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What’s your go to lunch order?
If I’m too engrossed to stop, I’ll have a green juice. Lunches are hard, I find thinking of things to have such a distraction from the thinking I’m already doing. If anyone asks, I’d always say anything green, ideally with fish. I guess most people call that a salad! I think I’m salad weary so I’m always hoping for something more creative.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
The constant newness of it. Every brief will necessitate new thinking. My partners Mark Paton and Tess Wicksteed are both visionary thinkers and they energise me to see the possibilities great design can bring to the world.
And the most challenging?
Right now, we are all united in the same challenge. We want to make proper change for the improvement of all of our lives, which of course means sustainable futures. We strive towards this in our practice across all disciplines. There are many challenges in any creative role, but this is the challenge we are focused on.
What did you study in school/ university?
In school, I studied Art, English, and History. At university, I took up Graphic Design with a specialism in Branding and Packaging.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Poole, Dorset. I instinctively need to be by the sea at certain times of my life.
What was your first job?
Apart from various seaside jobs which I was bad at (I never learnt to make a 99 Flake very well), I began my design career at Coley Porter Bell under the direction of Alison Miguel, who really believed in me and gave me a lot of creative freedom and trust. I’m really grateful for the opportunities I had as such a young designer.
What sparked your interest in design?
The people around me as an infant. My mother who drew, my mother’s friends who were wallpaper designers and artists. They were always very kind to me and encouraging.
Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
I meet many people who inspire me constantly. I’ve recently reconnected with a leading Professor at St. Martins who unlocked the power of design to me in my twenties. Now that I’m a co-founding partner in a professional practice of my own, I am looking to her again for insight on how I can use design to influence change for good, at the very top level. It’s exciting and influential.
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What were some hurdles you had to overcome in the early days of Here Design?
In the early days we were three people trying to pitch and win the same projects as the world-renowned design studios. But that just made it much more fun in a way – we had nothing to lose so we could really push ourselves creatively.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
The best advice you’ve ever received…
Change is good.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently creating a two-day festival for the studio team. It is part of our year-long cultural programme called The Almanac, which is all about enriching the experience of being a part of Here Design and celebrating our incredible work. During the summer, we will host a festival called The Great Escape that’s all about the theme of liberation. Having been in survival mode for the last 16 months we need to recalibrate and reconnect before we are ready to get back into our more socially interconnected lives. This festival is a chance for our team to ease themselves back into their liberated minds!
What’s next for Here Design?
In the immediate future we’ll be doing a lot more digital creative work as we’ve now grown our own team. It’s incredible to see how digital design can revolutionise our connection to brands and being a truly multi-disciplinary team, the studio now has no creative boundaries.