• Written by Mark Charmer
    24 May 2023

Akvo’s London office started out as my own answer to working as an individual in a shared environment. I’ve always been really interested in workspace and the role it plays. I’d worked as a freelancer since 1997, a 26 year old driving flatmates crazy with my mess and my phone calls, my LaserWriter II and my Macintosh Performa. And unless I was in client offices, I used to find working alone at home, difficult.  

In 2004, I did a Masters degree at St Martins College in London,. We went on what was basically a school trip to New York. It was brilliant. We got to hang out with loads of cool people on the New York design scene and I noticed how many of them shared studios together. I came back to London determined to find such a thing. This was long before mainstream “co-working” space had become commonplace. Through a college pal I found Julian Parsons of Sign Graphic Design, and his beautiful office space, “the studio”, backing onto big railway arches, in a strange and deeply untrendy corner of Bermondsey in South East London.  

I’ve been here ever since, sharing a very nice big room with five or so other people, who do a mix of graphic design, translation, architecture. When Akvo was first conceived this was where I did my work, when I wasn’t meeting people in Sweden or Holland. And as we secured funding and needed to grow, this became the defacto London office. It’s where we did our test shoots for our photo hero concept, and it’s where we trialled our Akvo hub design elements, intended for use around the world.


Co-founder and communications director.