Happy Monday, folks! We’re thrilled to begin our Maker Spotlights this week for our London Holiday Fair! First up is the incredible London team behind The City Works. Sylvia Moritz and Rowan Ottesen are the design duo behind The City Works and we’re thrilled you all get to know more about these two and their work!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
The City Works has a dual meaning. Firstly, we believe cities ‘work’. They’re interesting places where creativity thrives and millions of stories are told. Secondly, just like an iron works or a wood works, the city is the ‘clay’ that we work with by moulding landmarks & architectural styles in interesting ways.
Have you always been passionate about design?
From as far back as we remember, we’ve always had an undying passion for making, and seeing complicated ideas become reality. We both studied design at Camberwell College of Art, which is where we met.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
Sylvia began making fine art etchings after graduation and wanted to make an affordable version of her detailed city style. We combined this style with our fondness of printed matter to make products for anyone who loves to live the city life.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
So far, we’ve been lucky to go from strength to strength. Long may it continue.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
We both left behind stable full-time design jobs with a regular income to launch The City Works. It started out as only a temporary thing, but so much happened so fast that now we both run it full time together. No regrets!
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
Working on bespoke commissions for the Barbican Centre and National Gallery were two very proud moments for us. We were so young and for such great institutions to notice our style and trust in it was very reassuring.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
That’s a very relevant question! Obviously the place that we’re in shapes our designs completely. Every collection we release is based on a new, interesting city. We currently live in London, which has allowed us to absorb everything about it and make a range of products. In the future we will be moving to a new city, and making a new collection about it.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
We’re both very strict in our beliefs of how things should look and how they should be made. When we were working in a corporate design atmosphere, we serviced the uninspiring visions of others, which simply didn’t fulfill our own creative spirits.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
We’re a little new to the industry to be imparting knowledge on people who are probably much wiser than us! But, we would say we’ve learnt the importance of finding a brand ethos and having confidence in it. We’ve found that making our work unique in multiple aspects helps us stand out from the crowd.
We have an attention to detail that is present in every aspect of our business, from design, to manufacture, customer service to packaging. We use only the finest materials and most trusted techniques, which is why we proudly hand print our entire greetings card range in-house, as well as hand-sew our notebooks.