Editor's letter

The ‘Archetypes’ Issue

In the world of architecture and design, archetypes are fundamental and universally recognisable forms that draw from our shared experiences. They serve as powerful tools to convey meaning, foster connections, and influence human behaviour within a space. Archetypes help us weave narratives and influence perceptions of a space, from supporting daily rituals to helping us navigate our needs within spaces.

The animated illustrations on our homepage are based on simplified forms found across a selection of our more familiar projects. These are intended to communicate the archetypal features that stand out within these interiors. From the lozenge-shaped dining and serving bar at Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Exchange, to the communal table at Ace Hotel in London, which transformed throughout the course of the day.

By providing those that use our spaces with an understandable design language of archetypes, we are able to focus an individual’s attention on what is most unique or distinct in a spatial experience. In some respects, we see it as a tool for simplification, cutting through the sensory information you need to decode as you move through a space. If a big part of our work is to create spaces that encourage people to better engage, then easily understandable and adoptable forms play a crucial role in this.

With technology, work and leisure patterns in near-constant flux, our use and experience of space, as well as the archetypes we rely on as familiar anchors, also need to evolve. The ‘new’ archetypes we use in our work aren't entirely new; they're borrowed from different contexts. This act of cutting and pasting or re-contextualising familiar archetypes should be considered a creative act in and of itself. The steam, scent and polished surfaces of a standing-height espresso bar can completely change our understanding of a commercial lobby. This is exactly how we enhanced the experience in the entrance to the 100 Liverpool Street building in the city of London.

In this issue, we explore our approach to familiar archetypal design in new contexts via a look at projects old and new - Ace Hotel, IBM, Fortnum & Mason and Copper. Alongside this, we speak to design journalist, author and curator Clare Dowdy on Universal's approach to archetypes and those we find endure in the world of architecture and design.

Perhaps most of all, good design - which includes the successful integration of archetypes - requires a deep understanding of context. Ultimately, we believe that incorporating archetypes thoughtfully can foster a true sense of belonging and purpose within a space.

— Paul Gulati, Director

Each quarter, we focus our website on a broader theme relevant to our work and process. View last quarter’s issue, ‘Knowledge’, here.