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The Cobbler, the Painter and the Chandelier Maker


The Cobbler, the Painter and the Chandelier Maker

Bennett Winch was born nine years ago in an attic studio on Britton Street in Farringdon, London.


It was where the crossed ‘Robin’s’ logo was created, and where Bennett, Winch and I designed our first product together: the Weekender. The space was rented from a footwear designer who was busy pioneering the world of barefoot shoes – now an established global brand. The introduction came via two fellow tenants: a bespoke chandelier maker, hanging the world’s most impressive structures from the world’s most extraordinary ceilings, and a fine-art graphic designer, known for favouring paintbrush and palette over the Adobe Suite. It was a shining example of the type of building you get in Farringdon, and exactly the reason we’ve remained here – that, and any further east and we’d feel well and truly out-cooled.

The Bennett Winch studio and our view of Smithfield's market

Our new space, about 500 metres from the Britton Street attic, overlooks the iconic Smithfield Market. If I’m ever here late enough to see it, the whole place comes alive with rows of meat trucks and heavy lifters doing a day’s work before the surrounding residents wake. I’m often met in the morning by a lone boiler suit hosing down the evidence. It serves to reinforce the industrious spirit of the area. At its heart is trade.

The crew we first shared a space with, now firm friends, were not being creative as a form of self-expression, it was to eat. ‘Creatives’ of that type – the cobbler, the painter and the chandelier maker – are no different to the ironmongers, butchers or blacksmiths that came before them; bound to their craft in the knowledge that if their product isn’t better than their neighbours, they don’t get paid. This is a live-and-breathe model, and Farringdon echoes it.

Various shoots in Farringdon including Jim Wheatley on our studio roof (top left) and me riding out from beneath Smithfields for our film 'Into the Backcountry' (bottom)

As I write this, I can see the giant copper roof of Smithfield’s 1960s Poultry Market being clad as part of the area’s redevelopment. I hope its spirit remains – and that we can afford the rent once it’s finished. There is a charm in being able to shoot our wares on the streets that surround our studio, before sending the images across the pond to appear on a page in The Wall Street Journal – eyes on an industry that remains proudly based in Farringdon.