Rising set designer Robert Storey hails from West Berkshire, England, and grew up in an artistic family. His grandfather, a carpenter, and his father, a furniture design hobbyist, were both highly skilled at making objects with their hands. “It was always kind of inherent that I was always going to be quite creative,” notes Storey.
Storey studied sculpture at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. After university, he moved to Brooklyn and eventually began assisting artists and filmmakers the Neistat brothers and working with talented set designers (and London expats) Janine Trott and Piers Hanmer. Storey admits that coming to New York fresh out of school with limited experience was challenging. “When I was in New York in the beginning, it was a lot more about who you were or what you had done and there wasn’t a lot of scope for people that hadn’t already made it in some way,” says Storey. At the time, “there was a very young creative scene in London with people who were very encouraging.” So he returned and cut his teeth with another talented set designer, Shona Heath . But after 9 months, he struck out on his own, opening Robert Storey Studio.
In London, Storey, who is inspired by modernist architecture and art, was able to nurture his conceptual yet effortless aesthetic, characterised by sharp geometric angles, graphic colours and strong lines. “I like to take complicated things and make them look as simple as possible,” explains Storey, who also has another trademark: perseverance and diligence. In Paris, after a gruelling two-and-a-half days on the set building a giant paper origami for Vionnet, “we were falling asleep on the scaffolding five-and-a-half meters high,” recalls Storey. “But, in the end, it doesn’t seem so bad because it’s always worth it.”
After ten years in London, having built a strong body of work, including editorials for i-D, Wallpaper and Vogue as well as working on Christopher Kane ’s most recent show at London Fashion Week, Storey is ready to give New York another try. “Coming back to New York now, people kind of welcome you with open arms because, ‘Oh you’ve done this amazing work,’” Storey observes.
With a well-received Nike presentation on Mulberry Street in New York’s Nolita under his belt and a New York Fashion Week collaboration with Patrik Ervell, Storey is set to continue his rise. “There are a lot of opportunities in New York that aren’t in London.” This fall, Storey will debut a project for Uniqlo.