Profile: Jump studios

With an enviable track record in designing workplaces for a portfolio of big-name clients, this small London studio is now diversifying into graphics and interaction work. John Stones talks to Simon Jordan, one of its co-founders, about the future

Rather than put our names above the door, we wanted something with strategic intent,’ explains Simon Jordan about his and co-founder Shaun Fernandes’ decision to settle on the name Jump Studios for the practice they set up nearly ten years ago.

’Businesses are looking for someone who can move them, the idea of something that would challenge expectations and redefine markets they are involved in. Not evolution, but beyond that somehow. A jump,’ he says.

And that’s what the pair have done, using their diverse skills to develop a distinctive way with interiors for some of the biggest brands in the business, from Levi’s to Red Bull. Their backgrounds are slightly unorthodox – Fernandes trained as an architect and worked in theatre design before joining Ron Arad’s studio as a senior designer, while Jordan has a background in advertising, working as a planner and strategist.

This pairing of skills is reminiscent of the world of advertising – as is, suggests Jordan, the studio’s approach. ’We want to find a truth in a brief – we’re looking to extrapolate something intangible from the tangibles to create a brand,’ he says.

The consultancy’s founding client was Nike, which commissioned Jump to design its UK headquarters. The resulting work, completed in 2002, put Jump on the map. It also crystallised its characteristic, heavily brand-focused approach, which has been applied to workplaces for companies such as Red Bull, Wieden & Kennedy, Engine and LG, and now Matalan, too. This shows, suggests Jordan, that the studio’s approach has demonstrable value across the spectrum, which he is also justifying with post-occupancy studies.

’Design has a particular reputation and is quite a hard sell – people don’t understand its real value, so we need to find the evidence that it works, the proof, rather than just rely on the work as a selling tool. Ten years ago you could rely on winning some awards and catching the imagination, but now it is different,’ explains Jordan.

Obviously the past couple of years have been hard as companies have heavily reined in capital expenditure. ’But we have fared reasonably well,’ says Jordan. The studio is far from quiet, beavering away on various projects including a redesign of a swathe of Selfridges’ menswear department, and office interiors for clients such as Comic Relief.

One of the main struts of Jump’s survival strategy has been to do smaller projects in London such as jewellery boutique Belmacz, which is to open shortly in Mayfair, as well as upmarket estate agent Crayson in Westbourne Grove. Another has been to diversify into graphics and interaction design, either on their own or in conjunction with interiors.

’The digital is bleeding into the physical world, and I think this is an interesting opportunity for architects to think about how we can use the digital realm to enhance the physical environment,’ Jordan says, before quoting approvingly Rem Koolhaas’ dictum about architects being liberated from the obligation to build.

The consultancy has already designed a virtual interior for Fiat’s UK website which references its classic Lingotto factory, and is working on a couple of confidential large-scale projects that combine the physical and digital, as well as the ’personal project’ Musicity, a website and an app which Jump has evolved in collaboration with DJ Nick Luscombe.

Jump’s office is based near Spitalfields in London, and is made up of a relatively small team of eight. ’There was a time when groups like us were in the ascendancy, and being small and fleet of foot could work in your favour as clients looked beyond big corporate consultancies at more directional outfits,’ says Jordan, slightly wearily. ’But with the way the world has gone, being fleet of foot now means being able to mobilise in different market places – while it is quiet here it would make sense for us to have a representational presence in overseas markets.’

While he is ’open to exploring strategic options’, there’s nothing to report yet. But clearly there could be a few more leaps ahead.

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