IYA Studio on their new website, finding a home in Deptford, and creating meaningful connections
Part of the fun of catching up with studios is hearing the big stuff: the big changes. And that’s absolutely true for IYA, an independent creative studio based in London. Since we last interviewed Co-founder & Creative Director Matt Cottis all the way back in 2015, the studio have moved south of the Thames to the bustling borough of Deptford. Along with the logistical perks of the new location, Cottis reveals the pros of working near and for small businesses, and how it’s helped to reinforce their creative ethos.
PT Hi Matt! How are you?
MC Very well thanks, a lovely sunny-ish day in Deptford.
PT Your last interview with us was a long time ago! And you’re in a new location. What’s changed? And what is Deptford like to work in compared to Central London?
MC It was indeed! We were working in Lamb’s Conduit Street then, so the idea of moving out to Deptford would have been quite daunting at the time. Whilst we were really keen to move to somewhere new and have extra space to run our design store, iyouall, we had fears of clients not wanting to make the trip over here and the idea of being out of Central London may detach us from the design scene.
But to be honest, the moment we moved in that all changed – we immediately felt at home here in Deptford and there’s such a vibrant, bustling community which you don’t really get in Central London. We’ve also lived in South East London for many years so we knew the area pretty well already!
A lot of the difference is that there are more independent businesses here, from the local stores on the high street which are great for everyday needs to the ever-expanding cafes, bars and restaurants – not just the new ones in the yard, but also the great variety of established places that have called the high street home for years. We’ve also made some great friends over the years off the back of eating, drinking and going to events in Deptford, which has led to a few nice projects.
We immediately felt at home here in Deptford.
PT What is your working environment and desk setup at the moment?
MC We have a set up of size desks together and then a high table which I like to sit at (good for my posture!). We also use this for meetings. We also have some showroom pieces from iyouall so there’s some nice space with a comfy sofa (or two) if you want to relax. The interior was designed by Fleur, Co-founder of the studio, so the desks and the elevated meeting space are all bespoke which is a nice touch.
PT Congrats on the new website! What did you want to achieve with it? What was the old one lacking?
MC Thanks! For the update, we wanted to dig a bit deeper into some of our key/favourite projects and although the previous site has served us very well, it was a bit more focused on just showing nice imagery.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve been working on some really exciting projects that were a little different to our usual output, and we felt the old site wasn’t able to showcase some work in its best light. The new build has more flexibility to add in copy and another factor was being able to add in video in different formats – like lots of studios, there’s more focus on moving elements at the moment so we wanted to be able to do this seamlessly.
We also thought our previous homepage wasn’t really communicating our values and how we approached the projects so now we’re a bit more upfront in messaging to work with the visuals.
We like to look at the fun side of projects.
PT Which projects were you most excited to highlight?
MC That’s a tough one! When we rebuilt the site, we archived quite a lot of work as we wanted the site to feel a bit more curated with the projects that mean a lot to us.
In the past year we’ve loved working with Gemma at Kintent, Good Movement is really moving along nicely and creating the Switch brand with the team at Still Curious has been a really good challenge. We’ve just finished some more work with Nirvana on Bang & Olufsen which has been really great – the latest has been some bespoke artwork we’ve developed with a musician – we can’t wait to see how this one turns out!
PT One thing we’ve never actually asked you – can you tell us the story behind the IYA name?
MC Ha! OK so, myself and Fleur worked for a design studio in Antwerp a while back. It was a great fun space to work and the team was multinational. A friend of ours who worked with us there was from up north and every morning, she’d come in and say “iya” as in hello. The Spanish, French and Belgium contingent used to find it hilarious for some reason so basically, when we were heading back to London to start the studio we were chatting with Emma whilst out for some pintjes (small beers in flemish) and somehow we decided that was going to be the name!
PT Who makes up the IYA team at the moment?
MC There’s myself and Fleur and then Jake, Harry, Lucy and Lily, we’ve also got some great partners who work locally and help us with 3D and motion.
PT As a design studio, what would you say your strengths are?
MC I hope it comes across in our work that we like to look at the fun side of projects – we think the most important thing to consider is the people you want to speak to – be that a client, partner or target audience, we need to create meaningful connections.
PT And is there anything you think you need to work on?
MC We’ve been really busy on a lot of digital projects at the moment and using Figma a lot so we’re keen to make sure we’re really on top of new developments as it seems to be moving at pace!Self-promotion! We’re getting better but still need some work, I think sometimes we can be quick to just move on and not really spend the time to reflect and share our work in detail.
We need to create meaningful connections.
PT You’ve worked with some wonderful small businesses and start-ups, has the type of clients you choose to work with changed over the years?
MC Being a small studio – the flux of work is always changing – I’d say we’re still quite heavily focussed on consumer brands with fashion and lifestyle making up a lot of what we work on. But we are seeing, and trying to influence a move towards working with brands that want to do some good in the world.
PT What have you been working on recently? Are there any projects in the works we should keep an eye out for?
MC We’re really busy with Parla, lots of product development from them is exciting – we’re going to get a case study together for this one very soon!
Then a new concept store on Kings Cross – Imprint – which is the ‘Home of Creative Clothing Production and Customisation.’ This new space is amazing and I think will be a really interesting space to visit. We’ve been working closely with the creative team there, creating the brand identity that will be used across the space, music events and products.
Finally, in the works in a new DTC coffee brand, it’s still in the early stages but we’re going back to coffee’s Italian roots and celebrating all things espresso.
PT How do you hope the rest of 2023 pans out for you?
MC Keep working with the great clients we have now but would be nice to meet a few more before the end of the year! We’re hoping the new site and recent projects will help us reach out to new contacts and show them what we can do.