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New Practices #79: Fuse Studios

The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at architects who have recently decided to go it alone, either through choice or redundancy

Fuse Studios, Leeds and Manchester

Founded:  September 2010

Main people:  Scott Ryalls, David Matthews, Simon Clarke and Mike Harris

Where have you come from? A combined 40 years at Carey Jones in Leeds, Manchester and New York. Mike and Simon led architectural teams in Leeds and Manchester. Scott and David led interiors teams in Leeds and New York. 

What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for? A four star hotel in the North-East, a retail-led mixed use scheme in the North-West, a 150,000m² business park masterplan in Scotland and a string of workplace refurbishment projects – not to mention hospitality projects in Italy, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Austria. .

What are your ambitions? We have no intention of opening any other studios. As to size, we have promised ourselves that we won’t go above forty – twenty in each studio.  We have learned that if you go beyond that, then the business becomes more important than the people and we’re not going to let that happen.  Fuse is about people and relationships and it’s going to stay that way. In terms of what we would like to be known for.. probably, the way in which we combine architecture and interior design from project inception. 

How optimistic are you as a start-up practice? Extremely. We’ve had a stunning first year – a healthy profit, trading in the black throughout and we’re doing some great work.  The end of the recession is still some way off but we’re confident our business model is exactly the right response to the new reality. Four design-focussed principals with 60 years experience between them, providing hands-on project involvement in a small, low overhead practice is not a difficult concept to sell.

How are you marketing yourselves? Word of mouth remains the weapon of choice and as we can be fairly verbose, that is working well for us so far. We’ve also been aggressive in our use of the internet and social media. 
Our website consistently takes 4,000 hits a month and includes the Fuse Blog which already has around 350 subscribers. Our Facebook page had over 13,000 post views in June. We even made the AJ/tCn Top100 on Twitter. We don’t believe that social media is ever likely to deliver new work, but it is vital to brand establishment and market credibility these days – and it will be even more important in the future.




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