Conversations: Ross Baynham of Instrmnt
My name is Ross Baynham, co-founder and creative director (with business partner Pete Sunderland) of the design studio Instrmnt. We’re known primarily for our range of watches, but have worked on various projects across quite a few sectors in the industry.
To me it’s the balance of pressure and freedom which I find most exciting. Knowing that the two of us alone are ultimately responsible for the entire creative output of our studio — and also its success or failure — keeps us working hard and pushing to come up with ideas. While we now have irreplaceably important colleagues to help us with finance, HR, planning, development, and everything else associated with a start-up, in the early days we did all of that ourselves too. Having the minutiae knowledge of the nuts and bolts has helped us greatly over the years.
It’s a very intense city, but it’s also richly cultural, creative, and quite beautiful if you’re on the right street. Living and working here definitely motivates me, perhaps because there are so many other talented creatives to compare yourself to, and aspire to be as good as. The rest of our team is based at our studio in Glasgow: the city in which I grew up, which is also another fiercely creative place. It has a different pace, and it’s where I go when I need a rest.
Check out our other Conversations here
Is there a certain part of London that you feel a connection to, and if so, where and why?
The Barbican is very special to me for so many reasons whether that is architecturally, socially, culturally, or aesthetically. For such a sprawling concrete brute of a scheme, the overriding theme is in my opinion — subtlety. The details need time and attention in order to be appreciated. The sense of calm gained from building inwards to shield its residents from the city; the at-first puzzling, but learnable, network of walkways and stairwells to efficiently move visitors and residents across a 10 hectare site. The circular and crenellation design details usually missed, but in fact found around every corner and included as a nod to the original medieval site. The apartments’ interior features, many of which were ripped out in the 90’s before their value and novel design was realised. The stark material choices that actually appear much warmer and more complex in finish on closer inspection. All of these things need patience to see and understand. Yes - there are flaws, but I think overall it is such an outstanding project, ambitiously conceived by three young architects, while dealing with massive post war political and social turmoil. It is definitely my favourite place in the city.
Person: Relatively unknown outside of South America, Frida Escobedo, the Serpentine Pavilion architect for 2018 has produced an outstanding building for that project, and I am very excited to continue following her work. Credit to Serpentine for introducing her to such a wide audience (and for looking further into the field after 7 consecutive years of awarding the build to male architects leading multi-million pound firms).
Credit: Fred MacGregor
Where do you always find yourself going back to in London – (a specific restaurant, café, bar, pub, venue, hangout or other)?
Rochelle Canteen: buzzing the doorbell off Arnold Circus and being welcomed into their beautiful garden courtyard for a never-not-good lunch is undoubtedly my favourite thing to do in London.
Hotel Henriette, tucked down a quiet alley on the left bank of The Seine is a special place. Likewise The Fleming in Hong Kong, on the edge of the crazy Wan Chai metropolis, and The Standard in NYC as it has so many fun memories associated with it. I need to stay in more airbnb’s but when you’re on a business trip and have been working all day and evening, sometimes coming back to a folded towel and neatly arranged contact lenses is greatly appreciated.
As far as where you go or where you like to socialise in London, do you have any hidden gems you’d like to let us in on?
Make the trip down to Camberwell for the best pizza in London, found at Theo’s.