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Q&A with Lord Whitney

Art direction, production design and set building

Hi, we're Lord Whitney. We're a studio specialising in art direction, production design and set building. We work over a variety of projects from editorials to immersive experiences, music videos to ad campaigns. We are driven by our love of escapism, our passion for play and our belief in make believe.

How did you get started in art direction, what is your background?

The studio was set up by Amy (the Lord half) and Rebekah (the Whitney half) around 5 years ago. Though our style and methods of working were a little different to begin with, we soon realised we were joined at the brain after many episodes of silliness, daft dancing and trying to get out of being grown-ups. Since then we've also built up our amazing team who work with us at our studio and have become a powerful art-directing, set-making, wonder crew.

Where did you study? Looking back, would you recommend your path for beginners?

We studied Graphic Arts and Design in Leeds, but only started working together at the very end of our 3rd year after a tutor suggested it. After university we both gained experience in many sectors of the creative industries including TV, film, festivals and even a little wedding photography! Believe me we did it all! But after all that we found out there wasn't a role out there that really suited us so ultimately we had to make one ourselves.

Our path has certainly been long and winding, it certainly isn't a straight line even now, we like to call it our 'adventure'. We didn't know at the start where we would end up, and never imagined running a studio. If we had chance to go back, we'd probably tell ourselves to not worry as much, don't be afraid to contact people, and to listen to your gut, it is always right.

What is a turning point in your professional career?

Being asked to make some props for a campaign for The Prince's Trust was a pretty important moment for us – it led us to meeting Rankin, who we've now worked with on a number of projects ranging from high-end fashion films to self-initiated shoots. We also recently worked on a set for Nicki Minaj's most recent video, which was a pretty big deal for us!

What is your ideal work environment? Do you work at your design studio all day long or mix a few activities?

We love our studio, where we design, build, drink, dance and sometimes sleep! It's a huge top floor of an old leather mill in Leeds, which we took over in a derelict state and have since scraped the floors, painted the 30 foot high ceiling, built a photography cove, workshop, kitchen, meeting space and treehouse studio. Putting our backs into getting our studio to just how we want it makes it a rewarding and creatively inspiring place to work in.

Each day is different for us, sometimes we can be in the studio, others on set, we spend a lot of time loading and unloading vans! That's the part of the job no one ever really sees, but the reality is a lot of heavy lifting.

Where are your favourite places in your city or outside?

One of our new favourite places is the incredible new Duke Studios site in Leeds – our good friends have transformed an old belt factory into the most amazing studio, cafeteria, garden and event space. We've been involved in designing the co-working space which has been a lot of fun. We love our favourite book shop, Colours May Vary who always have a vast array of beautiful books, magazines and pretty objects. We're also big lovers of the outdoors, so being a stone's throw away from the Yorkshire Dales is amazing! Bristol is our other favourite city, which has too many incredible things to mention...

Who are the designers, colleagues in Leeds or outside you admire most?

We work with some super talented and hard-working people, in Leeds and further afield – there's a great scene here of artists who have stuck around for years and other younger artists who are making some great things happen. We love Matt the Horse for his incredible illustration and comedic genius; Amy Letman is making waves in Leeds theatre, as are Slung Low and Invisible Flock. We're in love with work by the artist Peter Blake who has taught us to always be collectors of the curious; photographers Gregory Crewdson, Miles Aldridge, Guy Bourdin, the list could go on forever, and who doesn't wish they lived a Wes Anderson film!