The Island Studios site is a complex of 19th-century former laundry buildings that back onto an elegant house in a garden square. Used as a laundry in Victorian times, it was a home to artist John Piper in the 1930s, a film editing suite post-WWII and, from the 1970s, the headquarters of Island Records. As such, it included a small recording studio in the basement studio where Chris Blackwell mixed Catch A Fire with a rock music overlay, introducing reggae to a mainstream audience and making Bob Marley one of the most recognisable music stars in the world. Other notable acts signed to Island during these years included Grace Jones, Roxy Music, Tom Waits and Buggles. The last artist to record there was KT Tunstall. As Island Records moved to Universal Music’s HQ in central London, we purchased the site in September 2005.
A six-month restoration and redevelopment stripped the premises of the various accretions of the last 130 years and transformed them into a sequence of brilliantly daylit spaces, arranged around a central core. We dismantled the individual, cellular offices and raised platforms of the Island era in favour of large, clear, flexible volumes, more suited to the open-plan working favoured by our designers, which also marks a return to the original spatial arrangement of the laundry.
We concentrated on the retention of as much of the building fabric as possible, so that where demolitions were necessary, materials were recycled or re-used. We also corrected some of the carelessness of the Island era; notably, we repaired and properly supported and braced a severed girder across the main space to stop the building leaning over. We revealed old brick laundry piers, providing warmth and texture to the spaces, and used simple, common-sense environmental control systems throughout.
Efficient space planning has resulted in the occupation density of the building being able to double, so the site contains both our studio of 80 people and lettable space for other creative businesses.
If you are interested in coming to work with us at Island Studios, visit the Careers page.