It's not often that designers are let loose on an interior scheme, but The Stow Brothers would appear to be something of a dream client. Launched just as Walthamstow became the go-to destination for those who were being priced out of Stoke Newington, Build's distinctive scheme made it clear that The Stow brothers were not your typical E17 estate agents. We caught up with Build's Nicky Place to find out more about the smart interior the studio has recently created for their client's new Wanstead shop, featuring tons of plants, a wealth of local talent and a feature wall to die for….
How did your relationship with the Stow Brothers first come about?
The Stow Brothers are Andrew and Kenny (and yes, they really are brothers) first approached us in 2013 when they were looking to set up their new business in Walthamstow (we were still based there at the time). At first we were quite sceptical about working with them because we thought they’d want an aesthetic that was tried and tested in the estate agency world, and not very exciting – plus we weren’t sure how easy they’d be to get on with. But they were fantastic and completely open to new ideas (as they still are). They are a real joy to work with…
The brief for the first Stow Brothers shop was to do something different, what was the brief for the second shop?
There wasn’t a brief as such for the first space, it was very much led by us in that we persuaded them how important it was that the space should be an extension of the brand, because aside from the website, that is the main point of contact for most people. We wanted to make sure it didn’t feel like an estate agents, but this came about quite naturally by thinking of the space as a hangout, like going to your mate's for a cup of coffee round the kitchen table. The layout for the first office evolved around how they needed to use the space (a key consideration for the second space too) but the finished design was definitely led by a small budget and a bit of a DIY aesthetic, peppered with some carefully chosen design details like the glass funnel lights and bespoke turned yellow table legs.
For the office in Wanstead however, we took quite a different approach – the population of the area is a bit older and more established (Walthamstow has seen a huge influx of new residents in recent years whereas Wanstead has a more steady population). So, we wanted to take some elements of the E17 office but give it a much more sophisticated look. The initial brief was simply to include ‘a lot of planting’ which the clients were keen to introduce so that the space felt very alive, and not at all like an office. But for the space itself we looked to the nearby high street for some pointers – Wanstead has a plethora of traditional shops like the fishmongers, greengrocers and butchers, as well as a great Pie & Mash shop along the road, so we wanted to do a twist on these (typically) tiled spaces (what we termed ‘Pie & Mash-Up’!). At first the space did look a bit like a fishmongers, but as the black tiling and other details got added it started to take shape with its own strong look. To divide and finish the workspace we commissioned furnishings from the very talented Gavin Coyle (gavincoyle.co.uk). We felt it was essential to use bespoke fittings to give the space a unique and quite polished look, as well as to get the best use from the relatively small space.