Wilson McWilliam Studio works on bespoke gardens and public landscapes. We talked to co-founder Gavin McWilliam about the company and their business journey. They are based at Barley Mow.
Tell us about Wilson McWilliam Studio and how you got started?
We started working informally together in 2005 and as the workload increased we decided in 2008 to create the studio with an office based in The Barley Mow Centre Chiswick. As a practice we specialise in high end garden design and landscape architecture working on schemes both in the UK and overseas. Over the last three years we have designed a series of show gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show and the Singapore Garden Festival. These more publically accessible spaces allow us to showcase our creative thinking to a wider audience than our private gardens.
Where were you based before? Why did you decide to move into Barley Mow?
Andrew was based in Chertsey and Gavin was in Hackney. We decided that we needed a shared base and Chiswick offered a convenient central location. This is still the case as Gavin now lives in Amersham and the office provides a convenient half way base for both of us.
We Liked the Barley Mow building as it retained a sense of its industrial past and the mix of creative companies made for a more dynamic working environment. Our clients tend to be split between London locations and the Home Counties. Geographically our Barley Mow office allows for efficient access and travel
How are you funded? Have you ever sought any outside help?
By merging our two companies we were able to self fund the startup of Wilson McWilliam Studio. To date we haven’t needed to seek any outside help
Business-wise, what are you most proud of?
Winning gold and best in show at Singapore, People's Choice two years running at the SGD awards and the grand award winner in 2013. We’ve been honoured to welcome the Queen onto two of our gardens. The opening of the Savill Rose garden in 2010 and last year on our Living Legacy Garden at Chelsea.
What's been your biggest business challenge?
Setting up a new company just as the recession took hold and convincing clients, developers and (some) architects to invest sufficiently in their gardens and landscapes.
Tell us more about your Living Legacy Chelsea Garden.
The garden was designed partly to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo – 1815 to 2015 – and to highlight the Prince Albert Scholarship Fund which allows gifted students to access education at Wellington College with 110% fee support. The garden referenced pre-battle Belgium, the explosiveness and tumult of the battle itself and Wellington College, which was created as the national monument to the 1st Duke of Wellington.
The garden was sponsored by Anthony Esse, an Old Wellingtonian, designed by Andrew and Gavin (Wilson McWilliam Studio) and built by Outdoor Options led by Brian Herbert. The planning and design process is just short of a year, the build and planting time is 15 days, the garden exists at Chelsea for seven days and has to be deconstructed within five days. Luckily that is not the end of the story as the garden is to be rebuilt and planted within the grounds of Wellington College as a lasting memorial.
Where do you see your business in a year's time? In three years' time?
Continuing to grow with potentially a larger studio with more international work
What are the most important things for you in an office space?
Character, light, room to make a creative mess. We often model make and like to surround ourselves with visual references and piles of drawings
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Self-belief... Be confident about telling people how good you are and the value of your work without being arrogant.
Find out more about Wilson McWilliam Studio