‘Crafting and making give us a deeper understanding of the built process’

Practice name Mike McMahon Studio
Based Westminster, London inside the George Gilbert Scott-designed Bell Tower, 20 Great Peter Street.  We open the studio door with a heavy, time-worn key.
Founded 2022
Main people Husband and wife duo Mike McMahon and Jewlsy Mathews.

Where have you come from?
Mike has worked in London for the last 16 years in practices such as Eric Parry Architects and Wright & Wright. At the former, for almost a decade, he was project architect on the weathering steel 4 Pancras Square in King’s Cross and associate leading on 11 Belgrave Road. Mike graduated from the Mackintosh School of Architecture and Queen’s University Belfast.

Jewlsy comes from a distinctly different professional background. Having studied two degrees of wildly different persuasions, optometry (City University) and anthropology (UCL), a broad knowledge has always fascinated her. She has held multiple senior management positions, heading departments at the ambitious eyewear designer Cubitts and Finlay London. At the studio, her role of ‘all-but-architecture’ discharges the architects to focus on design, while she oils the myriad other cogs in the business.

What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for?
At the very core of our practice lies an unwavering commitment to sustainability and urban greening, a mission that permeates all our designs. We view our design scope as limitless, embracing multiple different facets of design: architecture, interiors, furniture, and landscapes

We find it exciting to venture across various scales from the small scale of furniture, the medium scale of housing, to the large scale of office buildings.

Our passion for sustainability is exemplified by the imminent launch of Unfurl Paper, which may be the world’s first recycled paper, cantilevered chair. Mike has been designing and making furniture for the past decade.

Source:Peter Molloy

Unfurl Paper chair designed and made by Mike McMahon Studio

Crafting and making give the studio a different perspective on architecture, allowing a deeper understanding of the built process. Through making, we are constantly exploring and testing new ideas, and research plays a pivotal role in the studio’s process.

On the larger scale, we are working on a part new-build, part retrofit of a 2,800m2 office building in Notting Hill, which goes on site next year. We’re invigorated by the challenges of both retrofitting and sustainable new builds.

What are your ambitions?
While we are based in London, we’d like to continue working on projects internationally and especially hope to work in India where Jewlsy’s heritage lies.

We envisage our practice growing from our current size of four to 20-30 people and would like to be known as a practice whose design is heavily informed by both its context and sustainability.

Finding innovative ways to work with existing buildings should also be a key tenet of our studio. The age of 100 per cent demolition is swiftly disappearing and architects need to reinvent and work with existing buildings a lot more.

What are the biggest challenges facing yourself as a start-up and the profession generally?
As technology changes the face of the industry at a dizzying pace, this is both a challenge but also an opportunity to change how our studio can be run for the better.

A key challenge is to continually diversify our range of work and move into new areas.

Which scheme, completed in the last five years, has inspired you most?
Adelaide Street by OGU and MMAS architects in Belfast – which won this year’s AJ Small Project Awards – not only due to the execution of the project, but the journey involved to deliver this ambitious scheme.

Inspirational: AJ Small Projects 2023 winner: Adelaide Street by OGU Architects and MMAS

It is a wonderful addition to the centre of Belfast which several decades ago due to the troubles would not have been possible and is heralding a reawakening of the city centre.

How are you marketing yourselves?
Our project Rufford Mews apartment in King’s cross, where we’ve designed and made the majority of the furniture, has been selected for this year’s London Open House.

Our balconies at Rufford Mews have featured in BBC Gardener’s World Magazine and we are in talks with the TV programme regarding a feature. In addition, we have just submitted a garden design entry to Chelsea Flower Show.


Source:Cyanotype Media

Auburn House by Mike McMahon Studio