Space Makers began as an informal meetup for anyone interested in rethinking the spaces in which we live, work and play. Through the first half of 2009, I organised monthly events at different locations in London, bringing together artists, architects, activists, thinktankers and squatters.
When we created an online Space Makers Network to support the face-to-face meetups, it soon attracted a larger community of people around the UK involved in pop-up culture, empty shops projects, co-working spaces and more. Then we began to get contacted by organisations looking for people with knowledge of how to make good use of unused and underused space, so we set up Space Makers Agency as a company to represent members of the network.
Our aim is to be an innovation agency focused on the spaces in which we spend our lives. We see ourselves as a thinktank that gets its hands dirty - developing new ideas, working on projects which put those ideas into practice, rethinking the ideas in the light of practical experience.
Our first major project was at Brixton Village, an indoor market in south London. Funded by the landlord, and working in cooperation with the local authority and a wide range of local people and organisations, we transformed 20 empty shops into a rolling programme of temporary pop-ups, weekly events and new local businesses.
At the end of twelve months, every shop in the market was let, events coordination had been taken over by a group of the traders and the market had drawn national and international media attention.
With our second project, the West Norwood Feast, we supported local people to create a monthly street market and festival, owned and run by the community.
Space Makers has worked with clients including Design for London, RIBA London, the boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham, Hounslow and Haringey - as well as launching our first project outside the capital, working with the Devonshire Arcade in Penrith.
Our work has been highlighted in NESTA's Compendium for the Civic Economy and in the Portas Review on the future of the high street. In December 2011, myself and my business partner Mitchell Jacobs featured in the launch of The Observer's search for Britain's New Radicals.