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Review of the Year 2015: architecture, art and design collective Assemble

Our review of the year continues with an interview with architecture, art and design collective Assemble, winners of the UK’s most prestigious art prize.

Last week’s announcement that Assemble had won the 2015 Turner Prize seemed a fitting way for the London collective to wrap up an already fantastic year. Since emerging from city’s grassroots with a series of socially-minded, industrious pop-ups, the 18-strong group working across the fields of architecture, art and design have gone from strength to strength, and catapulted themselves into the spotlight in 2015. Not only is Assemble the first collective to win the £25,000 art prize, its members are also the youngest winners.

As well as their ambitious Granby Four Streets initiative in Liverpool for which it was nominated, and the accompanying Granby Workshop, Assemble is transforming a former Victorian bathhouse in south London into a public art gallery for Goldsmiths College. This year has also seen the collective collaborate with photographer Simon Terrill to recreate elements of the outdoor playgrounds of post-war housing estates with The Brutalist Playground, an installation at the Royal Institute of British Architecture in London (RIBA).


Assemble: Granby Drawing

Whether it’s recasting iconic relics of London architecture in pastel-coloured foam, or making handmade products for homes to help rebuild a community, Assemble’s efforts always take in the grand scheme. Its strength and ingenuity lies in bridging social projects with art and design, and if 2015 is anything to go by, this is only the beginning for Assemble.

Below, Assemble reflects on its most significant 12 months since the collective was founded.


Assemble: Granby Workshop

What was your creative highlight of 2015?

Something by Marie Jacotey. She made some beautiful illustrations for Granby Workshop earlier in the year. She’s great.

What was your lowlight of 2015?

7 May 2015.

What do you think are the markers of a good year creatively?

To be looking forward to next year.

Which piece of work from the last year has been your favourite to work on?

This depends on who you ask in the office.  Personally working on the Brutalist Playground with artist Simon Terrill and Isabel + Helen was definitely the best foam party I went to all year.

Which piece of work from the last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?

Our continuing work in Liverpool feels very significant. We are continuing to work with the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust to help them rebuild Granby and we’ve started a social enterprise in the area Granby Workshop, producing handmade products for the home.  So from a career point of view, I think we’re committed to the area for years or even decades to come.


Assemble: Granby Rock Mantlepiece


Assemble: Granby Rock Mantlepiece


Assemble: Ben Quinton

How has your work evolved over the last 12 months?

We’ve collaborated with lots of different people this year, which is a really exciting way to work.  In 2015 we’ve had the pleasure of work working with Marie Jacotey, Will Shannon, Lydia Hardwick, Niamh Riordan, Workshop East, Daniel Clarke, Isabel + Helen, Simon Terrill to name just a few.  Some people in the studio also started a record label, Sugarhouse Records, which is great!

What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?


Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?

Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust

Describe 2015 in five words.

Surprising, surreal, colourful, arty, fun

What are your hopes for 2016?

Find a new home for Assemble and all the residents at Sugarhouse Studios.  Do you know anywhere?


Assemble: Brutalist Playground


Assemble: Brutalist Playground


Assemble: Brutalist Playground

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