Five minutes with the Founders | Method Studio
In this series, we take five minutes with the founders of our 2018 Brands of Tomorrow to focus on the personality an motivation behind the brand. This month, we spoke with Marisa Giannasi & Callum Robinson, co-founders and co-directors of Method Studio.
Tell us about Method Studio
Marisa – We like to think of ourselves as architects of objects – hidden amongst the trees! From our unique timber studio and workshop (which we personally restored in 2017) nestled in a rugged spruce forest on the East Coast of Scotland, our team designs, develops and more-often-than-not entirely handmakes fine bespoke pieces for some of the world’s biggest luxury brands.
Callum – We also act as creative directors and project managers on larger-scale productions; applying our design principles and practical know-how to projects which combine a lot of different artisan trades and crafts. Complicated, but bloody interesting.
Tell us the story of how you built your brand?
Callum – Our background in architecture and cabinetmaking positioned us well to design and make furniture. But a passion for travel – and specifically the drama, romance and experiential side of the traditional luggage and trunks of the Grand Tour era – led to some magical opportunities to develop and make unusual, luxurious case-goods for people like Jaguar Land Rover and Johnnie Walker. These projects were interesting, theatrical and sumptuously detailed. And critically, because they were memorable, they firmly established our brand’s values, style and personality.
Marisa – Though we didn’t know it at the time, we picked a terrible time to start the company; showing our first collection in 2009, right in the teeth of the financial crisis! It was very tough for a couple of years and I worked three jobs, designing in the evenings in the windowless electrics cupboard that was our first office, while Callum toiled away in an under-equipped workshop. It was make or break, but in hindsight this difficult birth served us well, and taught us some valuable lessons. Some of the projects I’m most proud of came out of that period, including a very special piece for Vacheron Constantin which was exhibited at the Royal Academy, and the first original bespoke furniture commission undertaken by the Glasgow School of Art since Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Why did you choose to set up business in the luxury sector?
Callum – Honestly, in the beginning we just wanted to make really special things which we’d never seen done before. The luxury industry is a place where, if you work hard, you can have the opportunity to create remarkable things which fully engage your skill set and imagination. To work with the best materials and very best people…for a designer or a craftsman I think that’s about as good as it gets.
What is your favourite thing about the job?
Marisa – Hands down the talented, thoughtful, dusty group of people we work with! They make coming into work a pleasure, and we couldn’t do it without them.
What and or who is your source of inspiration?
Callum – A great many things inspire me, not least of which is my multi-talented wife. But my dad has been showing me how to do things properly – and reminding me what real hard work is – for as long as I can remember. He’s the quintessential hairy woodworker in the woods (David Robinson is one of Scotland’s most renowned master-wood-carvers and furniture makers, he also taught Callum how to make furniture) who knows how to make, fix or invent absolutely anything. His passion for creating things is a daily reminder of how precious and special this line of work is. And how to grow a proper beard.
Marisa – I’d have to say my dad too. He’s a serial entrepreneur and one of Scotland’s hardest working restaurateurs (Marco Giannasi has owned and operated the multi-award winning Italian restaurant the Battlefield Rest, in Glasgow, for over 20 years) He’s always so enthused and positive about new ideas and projects, and even after 20 years he’s still the first person to greet every customer that comes through his door. That’s how hospitality should be done.
If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?
Marisa – I actually do have another job; lecturing in design, which I dearly love. It’s not without its challenges, but the difference that you can make – especially coming at it from a real-world professional perspective – and the things that my students create, makes it very special indeed.
Callum – I can’t imagine doing anything better than making beautiful things, in the woods, with my family (and a border collie, a Land Rover and a full pot of coffee). It’s the best job in the world…though now that you come to mention it I wouldn’t mind writing a book about it.
If you could do something different in your career what would it be?
Callum – Start sooner.
Marisa – Worry less.
Where do you see yourself and the company in 10 years?
Callum – Our first love was handmade furniture – but working with brands and building the new studio has been all-consuming over the past few years. To redress that balance, and to engage more with private clients, we’ve recently opened our first retail store, in the nearby Historic Royal Burgh of Linlithgow – carrying a newly designed range of handmade furniture in local hardwoods and leather. This is something we’re keen to build into a series of stores over the coming years – first in Scotland and then further afield. Watch this space
Marisa – We’re just shy of celebrating the first ten years of the company – still entirely self-funded and family owned. The brand and the team have grown in a very organic way, and that’s really helped to cement our values, networks and practises. Over the next decade we plan to build on these strong foundations, and to grow the business in a really significant way.
What does success look like to you?
Marisa – Being able to work on the right projects, for the right people, for the right reasons.
What advice do you have for any young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Callum -Don’t be afraid to be yourself – authenticity is a rare and precious thing, especially in the luxury industry. Really think about what it is you want to do differently and focus in on those core values. Oh yes, and learn to say NO.
Marisa – Stick at it. And get your management framework in place early. It’s never been easier – or more economical – with programs like Actitime, TeamGantt, Slack and Xero, to keep a tight grip on finances, communications and work-flow. I simply cannot over-stress how much pain and time you’ll save yourself, and your business, if you get organised and incorporate the available digital tools into your day-to-day practices as soon as you can!