Iris Papadatou is the co- founder of You&Me Architecture, a company that was established 4 years ago in the UK. She set up the company with her best friend and co-partner Alicja Borkowska.
Iris and Alicja have known each other for 18 years. Their friendship started during their studies, until one day they decided to build their own company. Iris states: “I think is important in any creative business that you see eye to eye with the person that you establish something.” Soon after, they expanded to Athens, Greece, employing freelancers.
Their expertise lies in public realm projects, retail, commercial interiors and exhibition design. By mixing architecture, public space, art and community participation, YOU&ME aim to have an impact in the regeneration of society’s identity.
YOU&ME in Athens
Iris explains that YOU&ME is a community based, multi-disciplinary architecture platform and co-design is one of their main areas of interest and expertise. So with this concept of collaboration in mind, their presence in a co-working space gives them a lot of opportunities. Networking and sharing ideas and knowledge with people from diverse sectors makes the coworking space a fruitful ground to grow their business.
As Iris said: “The whole concept about our practice is collaboration, so on all of our projects we work with creators and we embrace that process. Our presence at Stone Soup is a good starting point, because I’m already starting to think how we can have some more collaborations with different disciplines and enjoy this creative dialog that the space provides us.”
At the moment, most of their clients are UK-based, but the majority of the production and design activity of the company happens in Greece. However, Iris does not see that as a barrier, in fact she considers it an advantage, since working from a different place gives you more flexibility in terms of schedule and a different creative perspective etc. Technology gives us different possibilities nowadays. Work is always attached to your computer, so you can take it with you everywhere you go and meetings can adapt and be set up via video calls . “We did not plan that two base situation. It happened and now we try to make that work. We say that we have an international practice and we can have the meetings via Skype.”
YOU&ME in London
Since 2012 YOU&ME have been working on UK public sector High Street Regeneration projects for local councils. These projects consist of transforming declined urban neighborhoods into nice areas to live and work in. As an architect, Iris is considering both the social aspects, while upgrading and modernizing urban contexts at the same time. Working with local residents and shopkeepers to regenerate their image, branding and actual shop premises is what YOU&ME are doing at the moment. “We get in touch with people who would never be exposed to this type of architect’s service, and this is great. We learn a lot throughout the process as well”, Iris observes.
Iris’ next steps are to open and expand their business in the Greek market. Working at Stone Soup for one month now, the idea is to link up with local creators and establish a network of collaborators, in a similar manner to their way working back in the UK.
Check out their beautiful work by visiting: https://www.youandmearchitecture.com/work