Joh Bates Studio_Nicky Place_We are Build

Nicky Place is a founding director of studio Build, a contemporary graphic design practice which she leads with her husband Michael. With clients ranging from the super-big to the very tiny, their work is bound by a common thread of consideration, craft and creativity.

Founded in, and based in London for 15 years, Build is currently in the process of moving lock stock and barrel to Yorkshire.



My grandparents garden in Ipswich where I grew up- they lived in an original 30’s semi with a beautiful stained glass front door with a sailing ship design. At the back of the house was a wonderful leafy garden with big trees, and traditional, deep borders of roses, dahlias, red hot pokers and snap dragons- and beyond that an allotment. This was the 1970’s but the garden was very much of my grandparents generation; the vegetable plot created out of necessity during the war. There was a large piece of rusty metal wedged in the fence which grandad would pull out every now then and tell the tale of when he, grandma, our dad & our auntie were in the Anderson shelter in the garden & a bomb struck not far away. If we were staying for tea, Grandma used to send us down the garden to pick fresh radishes, spring onions and gooseberries from the allotment.

I have very clear memories of grandad showing me & my sister round the garden, where he would point out the various flowers that were in bloom,and what they were called and we’d always ‘snap’ the dragons, which we were endlessly fascinated by.

In the middle of the garden was a beautiful stone bird bath with a delicate geometric leaf pattern on the base- and which stands in our garden now, and is definitely coming with me wherever we go.


Dahlias, snap dragons, hollyhocks, violas, lavender. I didn’t realise why I love these so much until describing my grandads garden!


It’s a garden of a typical London terrace, about 60ft long- but leafy & green & a little bit wild, with a huge plum tree at the end. In summer (if you look away from the house) its feels  quite secluded and easy to forget that we’re in London.  We live in Upper Walthamstow, close to Epping Forest, so it’s full of bird life, but of course when I did the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in January none of them showed up! We’re not here for much longer though, and are moving to Yorkshire at the end of September, so looking forward to having some new feathered friends in the garden there (including, hopefully, some hens).


One has to be the Walthamstow Marshes– I don’t actually walk through them often, but when travelling from Walthamstow to Liverpool Street, its always a joy to see open space, even briefly- there are often cows grazing, dogs walking and sometimes, people riding horses.

Another is definitely Epping Forest which is so close. From our house we walk 3 streets away to skip through a little pocket of woods, before crossing the A406 on a footbridge- with the sound of the North Circular drifting away behind, it feels like a rusting, soothing, ancient green blanket closing around you.

Third I think would have to be the Yorkshire Dales- particularly around Nidderdale which is not far from where we’ll be moving to, a few miles north-west of Leeds but feeling a world away from the world (although a short train journey back to urbanity).

Can I have 3?

Joh Bates Studio_Nicky Place_EppingForest1

Joh Bates Studio_Nicky Place__EppingForest2

Epping Forest


It’s definitely a couple of acres of woodland tucked behind the house (yet to be decided if the house is to be wild and rambling, or super-modern- or a little bit of both…either way, definitely detached).  It would be wonderful to find a bit of land to nestle a work studio in, but if all else fails some woods of our own to wander in would be my idea of heaven.

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