Book Tickets To Fashion City

Greenwich: How Outrivals creates a place to train with community at its very heart

Founder Matt Lo’s gym on The Tide offers workout facilities, small class sessions and personal training

Outrivals is located on Greenwich Peninsula

Subscribe to our Wharf Whispers newsletter here

Matt Lo’s vision is one of community.

Having dropped out of university, bored by his business course and keen to avoid getting into debt, the entrepreneur tried his hand in various sectors.

Following stints in estate agency, stockbroking and helming a failed website business, fitness beckoned.

“I fell into personal training,” he said. “I was always sporty – basketball, football and athletics at school and basketball for my county, Essex.

“But then you get into standard living, so it was nice to get back into fitness.

“What I learnt from the website business was that I wanted to gain some experience for a few years and earn my stripes before launching something.

“So I worked for Virgin Active in Moorgate, spent all my spare time studying, did my personal training qualifications in 2013 and that was it.”

From those beginnings, Matt started hosting outdoor fitness sessions in east London parks before successfully crowdfunding and opening his first physical gym in Old Street in 2016.

“I took my personal training clients, went freelance and that’s how things evolved,” he said. “Walking through those doors on opening day was beautiful, but also so stressful.

“We had plumbing problems – the changing rooms leaked into the gym floor and when we first opened I was there for several nights in a row lifting floorboards with water gushing out.

Outrivals founder Matt Lo

“I didn’t know what to do, but that’s part of the game – the unexpected stuff, the random scenarios. If you don’t want those challenges, then you shouldn’t run a business.”

With the leaks stopped, his first gym performed solidly up until the pandemic when, like many businesses, its model was upset by unprecedented circumstances.

When the Old Street gym closed permanently in 2021, buffeted by lockdowns and home working, the next chapter in Matt’s story was already unfolding.

“I first saw the space on Greenwich Peninsula about five years ago – but we couldn’t get funding for it back then,” he said.

“So I reached out to developer Knight Dragon as it was still empty and they said they were looking for an operator.

“We came in and opened in 2021 – I feel we’ve created something really solid for the community here.”

That something is Outrivals – a health and fitness space located on the Thames with its entrance facing elevated public space The Tide.

“When the agent showed me the unit in 2018 it looked really promising – especially with everything the developer was doing to create a community, building it up from scratch,” said Matt.

“I wanted to be a part of that. Outrivals has been set up as a place where people can come together to make friends and connections through fitness.

“Essentially, it’s a community-based gym.

The gym offers a range of membership options

“We offer small group classes and personal training with a team of people who are all specialised in their fields.

“It’s down to them that we have got where we are today.

“We’ve tested many different classes – sussing out exactly what people like.

“We wanted it to be a very strong facility, where people come knowing that they’re getting excellent training from very good staff, but having fun at the same time.

“We do strong-man and strong-woman classes where people lift 50k balls – stuff you wouldn’t be able to do at home on your own.

“We do an hour and a half endurance class and we have a leg-day on Monday.

“So we’ve worked on what we want to be about, but at the same time made these things fun for the people who are doing them.”

Memberships at Outrivals start at £30 per month for gym-only access – available for anyone who works, studies or lives in Greenwich.

Standard open gym memberships are £55. Small Group Training memberships start at £60 per month for four classes with eight session and unlimited options also available.

One-to-one personal training packages start at £99 per month with three hour-long sessions included.

“We also offer dedicated packages such as our 12-week strength, weight loss or post-natal programmes,” said Matt, who also runs Choy House, an Asian street food restaurant now based at Design District’s food hall Canteen, a little further south on the peninsula.

“We feel we’re on a really good journey here at this gym.

“When I first came here, there weren’t many buildings – the community was very new. Since then lots of people have moved in and lots has been built.

Outrivals overlooks The Tide park and the Thames

“To help boost that we create events, summer socials and charity challenges that help bring people together, not just in the gym but outside it as well.

“Personally, I understand the importance of fitness although I admit I’m hit and miss with how much I train. 

“When I miss a session, though, I really feel it both mentally and physically, so I know what an effect it can have.

“Ultimately I’d like to grow the brand, launching in other new developments so we can widen out the community and bring even more people together – whether that’s in London, other cities or even internationally.”

Outrivals has a number of offers for those considering taking out a membership.

Prospective clients can try out the gym’s facilities for three consecutive days, including open access to training spaces and small group classes. 

Members can also get up to £50 cashback for referring new clients who then take out a membership.

On the personal training front, in addition to packages for individuals, Outrivals offers sessions for couples or people who simply want to train together.

A £150 per month fee covers two sessions for two people with an Outrivals coach. Packages covering more sessions are also available.

For individuals who need more flexibility, the gym also offers blocks of personal training that can be used over a two-month period instead of the usual one-month expiry date.

Read more: See the moment One Canada Square was topped out

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Greenwich: How Wizard Works sew a little magic into all their bike packing bags

How co-founders Veronica Lowe and Harry Major run an open-hearted manufacturing business

Harry and Veronica in their workshop at Design District on Greenwich Peninsula

Subscribe to our Wharf Whispers newsletter here

The author Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen, V For Vendetta and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen maintains magic is very real.

It’s just that it lives in our minds rather than the real world.

A visit to Wizard Works at Design District on Greenwich Peninsula, however, does a little bit to confound that notion.

On the face of it, co-founders Harry Major and Veronica Lowe and their team hand-make a range of bike packing bags for cyclists in a bright and airy ground floor workshop. 

Wizard Works is now a team of six at Greenwich Peninsula

But look more closely and there’s a little bit of magic running through the thread on every seam.

That’s because everything this company does has a purpose – design that stems from a real world problem or a lived experience.

When I arrive for our interview, Veronica seems buoyant.

A Crowdfunder prize draw she’s set up is gaining some traction and it’s for a cause close to her heart.

She and Harry had travelled to her native New Zealand at Christmas – the first time she’d been able to see her family for four years, due to the pandemic. 

Sadly, not long into their trip, her father died suddenly. The couple extended their stay to be with family before Harry flew back, with Veronica set to follow on.

But then, in February, Cyclone Gabrielle hit, devastating the Esk Valley where she was staying – the floodwater rising so rapidly she and those in the household where she was staying had to take refuge on the second floor, before being rescued by boat the following morning. 

In a blog post she wrote: “Eventually the rain eased, the water stopped rising and in the morning I was rescued.

“I cried as I was jet-boated to safety, through the vineyards I worked in as a teenager, the valley Dad spent his whole life cultivating, completely engulfed by the little river we grew up playing in.

“The devastation is heartbreaking, there are people and families that have lost everything, including their lives.

“My dad’s house, with all his special things, that only days before we’d organised and lined up in his hallway to collect – reminders of our lovely father – all totally destroyed.”

I mention this deeply traumatic set of events because Wizard Works’ reaction to it says everything about this small, independent company. 

It’s created an AllBlack collection of bags with 50% of net sales donated to the Hawke’s Bay Foundation Cyclone Relief Fund and set up a prize draw to contribute to the relief effort for a disaster that killed at least 11 people, displaced some 10,000 and left homes, businesses and farmland in ruins.

While born of adversity, this latest project is perhaps emblematic of the open-hearted way Harry and Veronica run Wizard Works – a business that grew from a passion for cycle touring adventures, a bout of miserable winter weather and a desire for a creative outlet.

The couple’s business was born of cycling adventures

“We met in London,”said Veronica. “I was on a working holiday and my visa expired in 2011, by which time we’d been dating for a while and so he said he’d come with me when I left.

“We were not strangers to hare-brained schemes, like going round the world with someone you’d only just started dating.”

“We’d been in Melbourne for a few months and we did our first big ride together – maybe one and a half miles from a neighbouring suburb to have brunch in a cafe,” said Harry.

“We realised we’d ridden from there to here – it felt like we could do anything. We thought we might get a rainbow-coloured tandem and cycle round the world. 

“Although we prefer two bikes, the feeling of that conversation stuck with us and we planned our first multi-day cycle around Mornington Peninsula.

“It was awesome and my first time camping – Veronica was the outdoors person.”

Hooked, the couple began planning – reading blogs and making lists – as they set their sights on a year-long journey by bike from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur.

Although they didn’t know it, their experiences on that trip were the foundation for what would become Wizard Works.

Wizard Works makes bike packing bags for commuting and adventuring

“After that trip we got holiday visas and moved to Vancouver to stay with a friend we’d met in Melbourne who told me we were going to need an indoor hobby because the winters in Canada are shit,” said art school graduate Harry, who grew up in London. 

“He was right, it rained every day that October.

“So, having spent most of our trip around Asia talking about the gear we wish we’d had, we decided to do something about it and we bought a little Singer sewing machine and started making bags. 

“I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t – everything I made was terrible, but it was mesmerising.

“I loved that combination of technical problem solving and creativity. We started off making bags for ourselves and they slowly got better.”

The hobby turned into a side hustle with Harry and Veronica back in London gradually increasing the time they were spending on the business.

Finding success through online sales, they hired staff to cope with demand and took space in Peckham before outgrowing that and moving to Design District.

Today, Wizard Works is a team of six producing a collection of core products as well as custom-made bags.

The bags it makes are inspired by the Bike Packing movement, which aims to place luggage within the frame of the bike rather than having to rely on unwieldy panniers.

But it’s not just about function.

Veronica said: “Something that really felt difficult when we were buying things for the trip was that everything was black or brown.

“You could buy bags that were fun, but they were at the lower end of the quality spectrum.

“We wanted to do something which was more colourful and that fitted with our brand name.”

“Right from the beginning we just wanted to make the bags that we wanted ourselves,” said Harry.

“The name partly comes from Veronica’s older brother who used to say: ‘You’re a wizard, Harry, and a thumping good one at that,’ when he saw me because that’s what a British ‘Harry’ is. 

“Wizard Works got a name and went from being a hobby to being a business – but we were always coming at it as the end user.

“We knew what worked, but we wanted it to have an aesthetic that lined up with the kind of bikes we were riding and the stuff we were wearing.

“In about 2017 and 2018 there was a kind of culture around kooky bikes – things people had built themselves. We wanted to be the luggage brand to go with that type of cycling.”

As you might be able to guess, there’s an enormous amount that won’t fit in this article – Wizard Works’ tireless battle to make its Cordura bags more sustainable, for example – but suffice to say it’s a brand well worth checking out.

A SELECTION OF WIZARD WORKS’ BAGS

Shazam Saddle Bag

Ideal for adventurers or commuters who carry larger loads – £195-£205

Alakazam Basket Bag

This bag easily expands and comes with straps for bigger loads – £148-£215

Lil Presto Barrel Bag

Mounts either to saddles or handlebars, ideal for the light packer – £68

All Wizard Works’ bags are made by hand in Greenwich

Read more: Discover the House Mill at Three Mills

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Greenwich: How Karyna Sukha created Fabrika to serve fashion designers’ needs

The Greenwich Peninsula manufacturer also produces garments for Vavi Studio, her own label

Fabrika and Vavi Studio founder Karyna Sukha

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s newsletter here

A niche is what every entrepreneur needs for their business to be a success and that’s what Karyna Sukha spotted while working in the fashion industry.

Originally from Ukraine, she came to the UK to study some 13 years ago.

“I did my degree at the London College Of Communication in graphic design and illustration, but I always wanted to work in fashion,” she said. 

“My parents thought I should study architecture or interior design, so graphic design was somewhere in between.

“It’s something that gives you a wide range of skills.

“After university I started working for fashion companies such as Tata Naka, House of Holland, Alexander McQueen and Tateossian.

“I was mostly doing graphic design including print, textiles, photography, editing and that journey eventually led me to become a studio production manager

“That involved a lot of work with manufacturers to develop the collections and that’s when I first thought about starting my own company.”

Fabrika is based at Design District on Greenwich Peninsula

The challenge for Karyna and the designers was the traditional approach of the makers when faced with fresh ideas.

“At that time, communication was difficult and it was causing problems with both design and manufacturing,” she said. 

“So I thought it would be great to set up a company that would understand the new generation of designers.

“I was a young graphic designer at the time – I had so many friends who were finishing their degrees in fashion and needed someone they could relate to and have their designs produced by. 

“I bought a machine, started making garments for them and that was the start of Fabrika.

“After about three months we got our first client – a bigger brand – and we’ve now been working together for more than six years.”

Originally operating from North London, the business – which produces garments for Richard Quinn, Phoebe English and Matty Bovan as well as smaller labels and startups – recently moved to Design District on Greenwich Peninsula.

The business has grown to a team of 13 with further expansion planned

Occupying a lofty triple height space in one of 6A Architects’ steel, glass and marble cheesegrater-like buildings, Fabrika today is a team of 13, having grown its pool of skilled machinists to meet demand.

“We specialise in working with small designers producing anything from one to 300 pieces depending on their needs,” said Karyna.

“They might come to us with a drawing or a pre-made sample and we will then help them develop the design, produce a paper pattern and then continue to make reproductions for however many items they need. 

“Our current turnover per month is 600 garments and we’ve moved to Greenwich to expand – we want to push things a bit further this year.

“I’ve developed with the company – I was in my early 20s when I started and I’m 30 now. 

“It’s been a long journey to get where we are now.

“The more clients we got, the more people started talking about what we were doing because of the quality we were able to achieve.

“We expanded with machinists and some freelancers working from home.

“About two years ago I employed a studio manager and that really helped because before that I was doing everything myself.

“There have been ups, downs and lots of nice times over the past few years.

“But it’s always interesting to grow and develop, to try new things and to meet new people. Every challenge is a good challenge.

“There is definitely a demand for garments made locally and sustainably.

Karyna created Vavi Studio as a creative outlet for her own fashion ideas

“We’ve always tried to build strong relationships with the clients we work with – we love when they come down to see how their garments are made.

“Moving to Design District was about growth, but also about breaking the stereotype that manufacturing takes place in large spaces with no natural light.

“Here we have a beautiful space that is comfortable for our workers.

“We are trying to be as open as possible to show that manufacturing is not something scary that happens in the background but something people can see.

With the core business on a stable footing, Karyna has turned her attention to a fresh, albeit complementary venture, in recent years.

“I got a scholarship to study for a masters degree in international fashion business at Polimoda in Florence, which led me into thinking about what other ways there might be to develop Fabrika,” she said. 

“We’d got to the point where everything was working without me having to be in direct control – I didn’t have to worry 24 hours a day anymore.

“So I stepped back a bit and tried to decide what other options there might be.

“I’ve always been creative and I wanted to put a little bit of creativity back into my business.”

Sapphire Dress, £195, and Opal Top, £100, by Vavi Studio

The result of that thought process is Vavi Studio – her own label, named for her younger sister.

It’s a creative outlet for Karyna’s own designs, which are then made to order by Fabrika in Greenwich.

“I wanted to develop clothes for the everyday, busy woman,” said Karyna.

“The collections are based on interchangeable garments, which can be mixed and matched and are appropriate both for a working environment and then going out in the evening.

“Each piece is made to order so there is no waste.

“I think sustainability is increasingly important – especially manufacturing in London where a lot of people expect this in the production of the garments they buy. 

“We are making clothes locally rather than overseas, so that cuts down on transport emissions and a lot of our clients also try to source fabrics in this country. 

Spinel Jacket, £285 and Moonstone Shirt, £185, by Vavi Studio

“Many ask for the offcuts too so they can recycle them.

“Right now, the plan is to expand, to grow the team and to start working with bigger brands to bring more production back to the UK.

“It does cost more but it’s good for the environment and for people to have longer lasting garments rather than ones they just wear once or a few times and quickly wear out.

“I hope that people will be thinking about these things in a more environmentally positive way in future especially as the industry has not been so good in the past.

“A lot of people are talking about it and brands should too.

“We do our best, but a lot depends on the designers too.

“Many are now interested in using recycled materials and that’s great. 

“We also recently worked with a designer who was using silk that was produced without the silkworms being harmed – normally they die in the process. 

“I think there should be more educational content produced so people know how things are made to enable them to be more responsible as consumers.”

Gatsby And Daisy Polo, £250, by Vavi Studio

Read more: How The Ignition Platform is bringing dance to the Isle Of Dogs

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Greenwich: How Bureau offers space and connection for creatives on the Peninsula

Helen Arvanitakis on why Design District has dedicated buildings to freelancers and small firms

Design District director Helen Arvanitakis – image Jon Massey

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

When I was a boy, on visits to my grandparents’ house, one of the highlights was an ancient bureau.

This may mark me out as a peculiar child, but this dark, mysterious piece of furniture, with its polished wood and an infinite number of drawers, nooks and pigeon holes, held a universe of possibilities and secrets.

In reality, it contained old gas bills and bits of unused string. I wasn’t to know.

I mention it because it shares some qualities with Bureau on Greenwich Peninsula – itself a multifunctional place of possibility.

Spread across two buildings at Knight Dragon’s Design District, the creative industries co-working space, membership club, bar and restaurant does many things – like that antique piece of furniture.

But its myriad spaces are anything but dark and mysterious, even if the pale grey fluting on one of the buildings has something of the roll top desk lid about it.

Instead both blocks, designed variously by Architecture 00 and HNNA, are light, airy and functional.

“It’s somewhere for freelancers, gig workers, start-ups and small businesses that want to stay small – it’s secure, professional and very good-looking,” said Design District director Helen Arvanitakis.

“To give it some context, these two buildings are occupied entirely by Bureau, with the interior design created by Roz Barr Architects.

“It was important for us to have a single company doing that because even though the two buildings look different, people should get the sense in both that they are still in Bureau.

“From the outside, one feels quite angular and macho with a lot of exposed concrete, while the other has an undulating facade with more exposed timber and windows that punctuate the walls, creating pockets of light throughout the building rather than big, open expanses.”

Access to Bureau comes at many levels, with day passes available for £15 plus VAT, covering use of a desk from 8am to 8pm.

Monthly hot desking costs £125, fixed desks are £230 and serviced studios start at £280 per desk, all plus VAT.

Helen said: “We do vet applicants to some extent, although we’re fairly relaxed.

“We broadly follow the government definition of the creative industries – which is a really wide group, everything from heritage, museums and galleries, through to fashion, advertising and so on.

“However, we’ve expanded that a little bit, because we’ve found that there’s real value for our members and tenants to have businesses that are on the periphery of the creative industry.

“For instance, we have a specialist in intellectual property law, and that comes up a lot in the sector – it’s something that adds value to the community.”

That word – community – is at the heart of the Design District project and Bureau is much more than a co-working silo with some interesting looking neighbours.

“As a member, the benefits include being in a professional environment with someone on reception and lots of spaces you can use within the buildings,” said Helen.

“There are phone booths, meeting pods, bookable rooms with big screens and all the kit for doing video-conferencing, presentations and so on.

“We also have a totally fantastic restaurant with a brilliant team of chefs, which is open into the evening as a full-on bar.

“Then we also have an events programme with a good mix of stuff designed to inspire people and to educate them on particular aspects of the creative industries.

“But there’s also a lot of interaction between Bureau and the tenants in the other buildings at Design District.

“We wondered when we were setting it up whether we would be able to achieve that, because the temptation is to hang out with Bureau members. 

“So we regularly host social events and work hard to introduce businesses and individuals where there’s cross-over.

“For example, one of our members is a company that designs beautiful books.

“They recently worked on a knitting guide written by Tom Daly and used a post-production company based at Design District as a venue to do the photography shoot with him.

“Having that proximity was really helpful. I know we can all do things remotely, but creatives work better collaboratively when they are face-to-face.”

Helen first worked on the Peninsula project in her capacity as managing director of product designer Tom Dixon’s studio.

It played a major role in kitting out the gallery space and the now (sadly) closed Craft Restaurant as well as some of the Upper Riverside apartment buildings.

She said: “I’d always enjoyed working with Knight Dragon and stayed in touch with them after I left Tom Dixon.

“I went on to work with lots of small creative firms on the business side.

“The reason Knight Dragon was keen for me to work on Design District was because of that experience, I had an insight into the sector and understood what would motivate those small businesses to take a particular space. 

“We have 14 buildings, soon to be 16. There’s one block where we’re looking for a tenant and a couple of smaller spaces, but the whole development is basically let.

“Bureau gives us that entry point for individuals and smaller companies.

“We offer a warm, welcoming environment and we’ve worked hard to fix our energy costs so we won’t be putting up our prices for the foreseeable future.”

Read more: Discover ceramics with Made By Manos

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Greenwich: How Made By Manos offers everyone the chance to make ceramics

Manos Kalamenios hosts taster and workshop sessions at his Design District studio space

Manos Kalamenios of Made By Manos on Greenwich Peninsula

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

The world of ceramicist, alchemist and experimental creator Manos Kalamenios is filled with impossible things.

I was going to use the word littered, but thanks to a relentless focus on sustainability, there’s practically no rubbish in his bin.

His sink even has a filter that allows him to recover particles of clay for recycling in future projects.

And what projects they are. Made By Manos, his ground floor studio space at Design District on Greenwich Peninsula, is filled with finished pieces.

Its shelves are strewn with exotic vessels in bone china, porcelain and earthenware – pieces that light up and even ones made from ceramic foam, shaped and then solidified to give the appearance of a fossilised sponge.

There are improbably thin pieces, delicate as paper, and shards of material that seem perfectly solid until light shines through their translucent forms, radically altering their appearance.

When I arrive, the table is filled with ghostly white Christmas baubles which are just being removed from their moulds.

Everywhere there are trial pieces, innovation and work – either Manos’ own creations or those of his students. It’s much more than just a showroom.

Manos’ studio is on the ground floor at Design District

“Experimentation is paramount for me because it keeps me sane,” he said.

“It would drive me mad if I had to do the same thing for the rest of my life, so that’s why everything is different.

“Of course, if someone really likes something then I will make another one and I’m always happy to try new colours or textures. I never say no to anything.”

A Greek who grew up in Athens, Manos originally came to the UK in pursuit of his dream to become a chef at a Four Seasons hotel.

Working first in Greece, then Spain, he achieved his aim, cooking at the brand’s Canary Wharf hotel from 2003 to 2005.

But the long hours took their toll and he left hospitality, initially to live with friends in the Isle Of Man.

With the intention of pursuing a career as an artist (having never touched clay) he enrolled on a foundation course where he first encountered ceramics and a new passion. 

Further study led to a degree in fine art and then an MA in ceramics and glass at the Royal College Of Art as well as the chance to collaborate with an old friend.

One of the pieces Manos created for Lima

“When doing my MA, I met up with a man I used to work with at the Four Seasons in Canary Wharf – Robert Ortiz – who had become head chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Lima, in Fitzrovia,” said Manos

“We decided to do this collaboration with the restaurant’s menu on my tableware and it was magical.

“When I was a chef I was always excited by using unusual plates, so it’s nice to see pieces designed for food and not the other way around.”

Having worked out of a studio locally, Manos saw a sign on the door of Design District – Knight Dragon’s project to fill a plot with workspaces created by numerous architects – and applied for a studio.

Manos removes a Christmas decoration from a mould

“In the past, I was making work for myself, for clients and commissions,” he said.

“But when I moved here, I found the potential was not just for me.

“My aim would be to see this place buzzing – I have the space to offer workshops, to teach and to help people with their projects.

“My tag line for Made By Manos is: ‘If you can’t find it, come and make it’.

“I want people who live or work locally to come because using clay is so nice, so relaxing – you can just get away from stress.

“It’s great to have something you’ve made or to give it as a gift – I want people to come here and to feel happy at that feeling of achievement.

“You can be a complete beginner, someone who has never touched the material before, and then leave with something you have made.

“For me, it’s amazing to pass something on and to give back to the community.

“This isn’t that old mentality of not sharing a secret glaze or something.

“I think you can only make progress by sharing what you know.”

Tiles made by participants on a taster session

Manos is constantly developing his own practice, blending ingredients in different ways to create new materials and approaches. 

His pieces have been widely exhibited and used, including pieces for Canary Wharf’s Winter Lights Festival in 2018, tableware for Tate Modern’s members club and work for Four Seasons Hotels And Resorts in Athens.

“About 99% of my work is slip casting, so I don’t have the mess with a wheel spraying the clay everywhere,” he said.

“I also find the wheel very restricting because everything you make has to be round.

“With slip, I have the ability to get any shape I want, any size, any height and any finish.

“I love lighting and working on a big scale – I also like collaborating, doing things outside my comfort zone with glass, jewellery and metal.

“My favourite is probably working with bone china – I’ve even found a way to make it into a foam by adding extra air.

“As a student I was taught air was imperfection and my instinct is always to go completely the other way. That’s the most exciting thing to do.

“When I was making the foam, I was told I was looking for trouble but once you know the limits you can adapt it to what you want.

“I was also told never to add glass and I wound up making pieces for James Dyson after doing that, so I think you should listen to your gut and go with it.”

For those who want to have a go themselves, Manos offers one-hour taster sessions at his studio for £30 per person, where small groups learn ancient techniques to hand-build vessels in stoneware clay. 

He also offers three-hour themed workshops for £80, where participants in groups of five work on specific projects such as building mugs or cups or making Christmas decorations such as paper porcelain baubles for the tree.

One-to-one coaching and mentoring are also available on an hourly basis as well as a firing service for people who have made pieces but lack a kiln to finish them.

Read more: How inhaling nitrous oxide can damage your spine

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life