Case Study

Union Wharf

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Case Study

Union Wharf

YAM Studios, run by Kashi Shikunova and Liam Clifford, is a London-based design studio. Their minimal, Scandinavian style is at the heart of the project they created at Union Wharf. We spoke with Liam to find out a bit more about the practice, their work, and how they created the beautiful apartment in N1, London.


Tell us a bit about YAM Studios, and why and how you started up.

We started the studio because we love the minimalist aesthetic and wanted to specialise in this kind of design. Kashi had been working in the industry on high-end interiors, but the style wasn’t right and she couldn’t put her heart into it. I trained as a surveyor, but was always had a passion for architecture, interiors and business – the obvious thing was to start our own studio. We are now working with clients in London and beyond, creating beautiful spaces from our office in Covent Garden.

Kashi Shikunova and Liam Clifford
What attracted you to the Union Wharf project?

We had an immediate connection with the client in terms of style and personality, they loved our work, and had ambitious plans for their new flat. The building is stunning, with so much character, it was a dream to work on this kind of space.


How much work needed to be done and what was your approach to the project - your philosophy and process?

The project was a full refurbishment. We took the flat right back to the bones and started from scratch. As well as making structural alterations – we approached the space from a design perspective without any constraints. We wanted to create something which complemented the strong personality of the building while also looking contemporary. We see our process as very collaborative, so the client always feels in control. From a design perspective the best way to sum up our philosophy would be: minimalist, with a limited palette, but always with texture and depth.

What were you happiest with and what was the biggest thing you learnt?

We loved the handrail detail, other people within the building had connected the stairs to support the first floor extension, but we worked with the engineer to hang this from the ceiling, creating a gap for the handrail where the stairs and extension meet. The hand finished resin floor from Sphere8 was a great success, the seamless nature of it along with the subtle movement in colour worked perfectly with the scheme – minimalist but with texture. The resin covers the whole ground floor and flows up the stairs, all without a single joint. Working with this specialist floor finish was a learning curve in terms of floor build up and detailing, but we got there in the end and it was most certainly worth it.

Why does Union Wharf and the apartment make a great place to live, in your opinion?

The building is special architecturally, we found speaking to neighbours during the build this has attracted an eclectic mix of residents, many from the world of art and design. You effectively live in a beautiful building with neighbours who appreciate, and work in, design. The flat is in a great location overlooking the water and the interior isn’t bad either!


What is the most challenging part of being a designer today?

For us there are just so many stunning products on the market – finishes, fittings, lighting, furniture – you can never use everything you want, everyone has their limit when it comes to budget. It’s about focusing on the key areas/pieces and making the right compromises where you need to.


Who is your biggest inspiration?

Our favourite interiors tend to be created by architects, Norm Architects are constantly creating beautiful spaces.

What would be your dream creative project or collaboration?

Another Union Wharf flat would be a lot of fun.


Favourite design classic?

It’s got to be Hans Wegner’s CH24 Wishbone Chair. <3

What would be your advice to someone who is thinking about starting work on their own home?

We always advise spending time looking for inspiration and collecting imagery which fits with your vision. This process will help you refine your ideas, you should start seeing a theme amongst the inspiration, which will help you refine the scheme. Another advantage is you will come across ideas which you would never have imagined but will work perfectly in the space. This collection of ideas is an ideal way to start a collaboration with a designer/architect. We would also recommend speaking to a professional as early as possible in the process, this is especially true for interiors which can get overlooked.


To find out more about the apartment in Union Wharf, please email [email protected] or call on 020 7112 4907

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