Polly Damen and Hans Brasser of d + b Studios have been based at Build Studios since February. They recently answered some questions relating to their business and to their involvement in the built environment sector.
Tell us about the background to d + b Studios. How did it start?
Polly: We used to work together in the same large company. When I first saw Hans’ CV, I distinctly remember saying ‘the Dutch guy looks good!’. The company disbanded, but lots of us went off to do our own thing and have remained friends. Hans and I took the decision to set up on our own.
Hans: The name d + b Studios works well for us. It reflects our two surnames – Damen and Brasser – and is also very visually balanced. This is appropriate given the balance of skill sets in the team. It also works for ‘Dutch – British’, ‘Design & Build’ – the list goes on!
Our skill set is very broad and, as a result we have a number of specialisms – architecture, interiors, senior living, masterplanning and visualisation work. The visualisation work is a very important aspect of what we do. Many clients can’t communicate through plans – they need more help in visualising how the design will work.
What are you currently working on?
We’re currently working on a marketing suite for Lendlease in an old pub on one of their sites.
What has been the most exciting project to date?
Polly: I would say something we are currently working on which is confidential at the moment, but is a floating residential building in London.
What is the best thing about basing your business at Build Studios?
Hans: This is a creative and inspiring environment for us. We’re all in the same line of work and understand each other’s trade. People are also really willing to help out and share their experience and contacts. We were really pleasantly surprised by this.
Polly: We still work from home a bit, but it can be very isolating and it’s so nice to have a community at Build Studios to return to. We’ve started working with other companies we’ve met here, so it’s been great for us in that respect too.
What is the most significant challenge facing today’s built environment sector?
Polly: I hate to say it, but Brexit is a massive issue at the moment. Clients just aren’t making decisions as quickly as they used to.
Hans: I wish I had a short answer to that one! Poor design is ubiquitous.
I have ‘building rage’ similar to how some people get road rage. Sometimes I just have to stop and get off my bike. It’s astonishing how some things get approved to be built!
For more information on d + b Studios, please see their website.