Under One Roof
Words by Lydia Fulton
An independent design studio
Browns achieved critical success from their founding in 1998, and since then have sustained a stream of work from clients across the world, a feat few studios manage. Some of their contemporaries have swollen in size to satisfy commercial demands, but as their successes, output and reputations have faltered over the decades, Browns has never wavered.
There is an innate gravitas, creative and cultural significance to their twenty-four years of work. Forming weighty identities and communications for an array of global clients such as Hiscox, Invesco, Climate Group, Dries Van Noten and law firm Rosling King through to FIFA, Channel 4, the FA World Cup Bid and Mulberry: the stream of commissions is a testament to their capacity to fulfil the most multifarious briefs.
The daily workings of the studio are intimately managed with an instinctive understanding of the functioning of each discipline as the team is lead through every brief. The natural, organic growth of the studio, instead of expanding at an artificial rate, has assured an uncompromising attention to detail. The small team efficiently delve into a thorough understanding of the clients needs. In addition, the studio hosts educational events, welcoming university students to participate in thoughtfully constructed dialogues and presentations, further maximising the alchemy of the space.
An independent publisher
The twenty-first century is filled with disposability and instant gratification. As digital and technological advances have aided our potential and increased our output there is a tendency to seek only the fleeting, aspirational image.
Browns Editions seeks out the tools and matter to craft its vision. This dedication to research and intuitive understanding of materials has resulted in an acclaimed portfolio, working with a collection of internationally acclaimed artists, photographers and designers, counting Martin Parr, Susan Meiselas, Paul Graham, Felice Varini, the late Storm Thorgerson and Lawrence Weiner amongst others. From many of these collaborations long standing working relationships formed. The acclaimed body of work created with American Street photographer Bruce Gilden stretches from the inaugural collectible hardcover, Coney Island, 2002, to a full sized billboard proclaiming Only God Can Judge Me, 2018.
The studios methodical, thorough explorations of projects continually unearths new possibilities for publishing, simultaneously capturing the attention of the press, from spreads in Wallpaper* magazine to The Guardian, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
An art practice
Since Ellery’s first solo show over fifteen years ago, his art practice has repeatedly turned back upon itself, re-examining past issues in a new manner. It constitutes a unique exploration of themes which have interested the artist from the first: themes of the human condition.
Through means of condensed forms he presents the viewer with a work which at first seems neutral in meaning, only to arrive at the actual significance on another level of understanding. Ellery does not raise questions about the nature of the world in order to answer them. The questions do not determine the work, but are a result of it; they are posed by the works themselves.
Ellery has held solo exhibitions at galleries across London and internationally and produced a remarkable series of collectible art books. A collaboration with the conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner culminated in a silkscreened, clothbound book and full colour billboard.
The thread which binds these three components, Browns, Browns Editions and Ellery the artist, is Ellery’s ability to scrutinise the framework of a traditional design studio and his faith to tread this new terrain. This stance is not a measured middle, but a true balance between art, design and publishing. This considered structure may, in the future, be regarded as a sutra of multi-discipline studio.