On one hand, Workshop is very much reminiscent of a Victorian-era general store, stocking simple goods for everyday life. Whether it’s shaving accessories, a teapot or essential items of clothing, it can all be found under one roof.
Leaving the description there, however, wouldn’t really be telling the full story. There’s something that flows through everything in the store–from the simple decor to the worldly curation of products and their immaculate presentation–that makes a visit nothing short of memorable. Everything about the place is just right.
In the digital age, a visit to Workshop’s bricks and mortar store on Prince Albert Street in Brighton feels memorable and unique, which makes for a nice change from the efficient but often sterile online shopping experience. Shopping online requires strict categorisation and an element of the user seeking out what they need rather than really getting to know what a website is all about.
Upon their insta-worthy shelves, Workshop has Cubbits sunglasses right by JC Herman ceramics, Haeckels handwash next to Form and Thread shirts. Online, this would make for a cumbersome experience, but in a physical store it adds so much to the experience, especially when you’re browsing The Lanes of Brighton on a lazy Summer afternoon.
The guys at Workshop are championing the buy once, buy well philosophy, which is what brings everything together, and why you can have such a broad array of products sitting side by side with such ease. Whether you’re buying a Chore Jacket or Kitchen Knife, every product comes from a brand with an honest, ethical approach to making brilliant wares.
It’s a shop that’s fascinated me a little over the last few years, so it’s great to bring an interview with owners Ryan and Jayson, along with a few photos, to Overdiluted. It comes as part of a wider aim to focus more on what’s going on in Brighton, there’s so many interesting places and people here that it seems a shame not to. Anyway, more on that another time, for now, read my conversation with Ryan and Jayson about Workshop, craftmanship and minimalism below...
Can you start off by telling me a little bit about Workshop and the team behind it?
Workshop was founded by Ryan Kersop and Jayson Tane-Smiler in 2013. The vision for Workshop was born out of a desire to share our influences in simple design and everyday living. The intention is to present carefully curated products that are both practical and simple in form and function. Workshop is about providing home, lifestyle and fashion products that contribute to simple, uncomplicated, everyday living. Our store is aimed at like-minded people who appreciate our values and aesthetic.
You stock a real range of stuff from clothes, homeware and more from a mix of brands from all around the world. What makes a product or brand right for Workshop?
Curating the store is quite intuitive and there’s a definite sense of quality and craft in the goods selected for the store. We prefer to travel rather than attend trade shows as we are more often influenced by independent producers discovered on our travels rather than fashion. We support many independent producers who are artisans in their field and fit the ethos and aesthetic of Workshop as well as manufacturers from around the world recognised for original design and function.
I feel like Workshop is constantly subtly changing, always beautifully laid out but always different. How do you plan the look of the store and how all of the products sit together? It always looks both meticulous and easy, which is kind of reflective of the products.
We are constantly inspired by creatives and producers that we meet or discover on our travels. Newness is an important part of the retail cycle and we always try to introduce these discoveries in a way that is sympathetic to the store and our core customer. The store has been through many reincarnations since we first opened our doors but we always ensure that the Workshop DNA is still present in the decisions we make.
You guys are very well dressed and your style fits right in with the vibe of Workshop. Can you talk through each of your personal styles? What brands you like, what kind of pieces you like to wear etc?
We are definitely lovers of an effortless, informal style when it comes to fashion. We are fans of brands whose creative direction interprets traditional techniques in silhouette and form in a modern way. British brands such as King & Tuckfield, Universal Works, Kestin Hare and Margaret Howell are favourites. We also love the simplicity in Scandinavian style filtering into fashion with brands such as Form & Thread and ATF. We tend to wear clothes with a relaxed fit – you’ll never see us in skinny jeans!
Why do you think Scandinavian style and minimal ideals are so popular and, I guess, culturally relevant these days?
For us, Scandinavian design is the epitome of modern minimalism. The simple aesthetic, coupled with quality in craftsmanship has ensured this style is relevant to the modern household. Consumers are not only looking for form but also function and Scandinavian design has always been at the forefront of ‘function over form’ that contributes to our everyday lives and is also aesthetically pleasing in a simple, parred back way.
If you had to pick one product that summed up Workshop the best, what would it be and why?
Everything from Braun comes to mind. Personally, we share the same values – ‘less is more’. Product design that has stood the test of time and is still relevant today. Hats off to Dieter Rams!