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CBY - Design Studio

In 2013, sculptor and carpenter Sam Kennedy met multi-skilled maker James Gilpin at a shared workshop in London. After becoming friends - and consistently helping one another out on their projects - the two decided it made sense to team up as Commissioned By You.

As their business grew and more complex commissions were won, the pair sought a workshop to rent with more space, higher spec tools and equipment, and a place to meet other professional makers. With that, CBY came to the Building BloQs north London workshop in 2015.

With James moving to Barcelona last year, Sam and his wife Aiko head things up today. Through learning new skills and working alongside Building BloQs makers, Aiko and Sam have been able to maintain CBY’s early momentum.

With Sam's background in sculpture and carpentry and Aiko's industrial design and industry experience, Commissioned By You is continuing to conceive and execute innovative, exciting, creative builds.

To give you an idea of CBY’s range, they recently finished a large installation for Bompas & Parr called The Grand Cork Experiment, an installation which featured a bar with a cork-veneered, gilded top; cork bark trees and an anechoic chamber where every surface was covered with red flocked acoustic pyramids.

“Since joining CBY we've had to learn a lot, and quickly get to grips with using different materials, tools and processes,” says Sam. “James's background and skill-set was very broad, whereas mine was predominantly woodwork and sculpture based."

One recent project, made for East Street Market and commissioned by London-based architects We Made That, was a set of galvanised steel frame wheeled tables, each with yellow trim, wheelbarrow handles and tops made from hand-printed graphic tiles.

“It involved a lot of materials and processes,” says Sam. “Metal and welding; powder coating; tiling with tiles which had to be printed; special fibre cement board - all these different things had to come together. Some of it was outsourced but a lot was done in house.

“It was my first proper metal project and although it took me forever, I learned a lot about welding, and working with steel.

The East Street Market project is the latest in a line of ambitious builds that Commissioned By You has taken on.

Working again for events firm Bompas & Parr - on behalf of boutique hotel chain Relais Chateaux - Commissioned By You recently created a huge, fascinating sculpture as a promotional backdrop for a campaign to launch the hotel’s own-brand honey.

“It was a baroque-style decorative screen which formed the backdrop to a curved bar,” says Sam. “Behind the screen were layers of windows each with different design elements: stained glass, scrolls and a lot of bees. Those were CNC’d or laser cut. But what was interesting was that it was all coated in beeswax - so it looked like it had been made out of wax.

“We came up with a system for dipping the decorative panels into the melted beeswax one by one. They had to be dipped three times and then hung up to try. The result was beautiful - and it smelled nice!”

With each project Sam and Aiko have had to challenge themselves further, often learning new skills for the task or working with experts to achieve the desired result. Whether it’s gilding, melting wax, or negotiating the laser cutter for a custom home cinema unit shaped like an art deco radio, the Building BloQs workshop has enabled CBY’s experimentation. Plus, they're never short on help.

“We work with BloQs members a lot,” says Sam. “Stuart has helped a lot with metal projects and others have been able to help out on jobs with tight deadlines. It’s really good to have people around. I’d hate to be in a garage on my own. It’s nice to have people to talk to, to have lunch with - and to get to know them and their work.

“I’ve taken advantage of the one-to-one training here. You can take someone in the metal workshop who’s very good at metal or spraying, for example. Or someone in the wood workshop who can show you techniques - and to work with you side-by-side.

“Helping you learn is one of Building BloQs’ strengths. Just by being around people who work here, you can watch out of the corner of your eye and see how someone’s cutting a tenon or welding. It’s a good place to be, and a great place to learn.”

Armed with his experience, education, dedication and a lust for exploring what’s possible, Sam, Aiko and the small team at Commissioned By You can continue to push boundaries and create stunning work. Helped by the talent and professional tools at Building BloQs, of course.

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