It’s not just the people who deliver a breadth of inspiration and character at The Engine Room.
As the organisation’s York Mills HQ - an impressive 19th century building renovated in 2018 - packs an equally thought-provoking punch. Leo Parker, The Engine Room’s creative director, tells us more…
“The Engine Room has moved premises a few times since we were founded 21 years ago. But York Mills is now, for sure, our "forever home". We are privileged to work in such an inspiring building, with lots of natural light, plenty of open space, a dynamic workshop area, and multiple break-out zones too.
“The industrial feel of the building is a fantastic environment for me as creative director, and also my creative team. As a designer, the space in which you work makes such a difference to both productivity and outcomes. It's a peaceful and collaborative space, overlooking the iconic Emley Moor, with views for miles on a clear day.”
Where is it?
York Mills, York Road, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, WF14 9RR.
How big is it?
The Engine Room’s Founder (Darren Evans) and Managing Director (Lesley Gulliver) purchased the former piggery - which was once owned by the employer of English novelist Anne Brontë —in January 2017. Plugged with £225,000 investment and £150,000 of funds – including £20,000 of support from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership – the pair completely transformed the mill into the company’s new HQ the same year.
Previously a dark, mouldy and disused property, York Mills is now a vibrant 4,000 sq ft space — with The Engine Room operating on the top floor of the premises, and the ground floor a bright, open-plan workshop environment available for local businesses to utilise too.
As part of the renovations, outbuildings were also cleared to pave the way for a 12-bay car park, sectioned off with metalwork from the roof. The former car port is now the main reception and the adjoining cottage is occupied by local residents.
In making use of as many existing materials as possible, the site has maintained much of its architectural and interior character today. As well as recycling scaffold boards for use on the central stairway and utilising the old mill door to create a boardroom table, the first floor of the office also boasts the original wooden flooring, in which the mill’s 200-year-old industrial hoist is also a key feature.
What happens there?
Day to day, The Engine Room uses the top floor as its designated design studio space, and the ground floor — or the piggery — as a workshop for both internal collaboration and client workshops, when required.
But it’s not just our team that is able to take advantage of the space. It’s also available to be rented out by organisations and individuals who are looking for an inspiring creative environment to facilitate meetings and events of their own — from all-hands ‘away days’ to company-wide learning opportunities, forums, and more.
Previously, for example, one of our clients made use of the open-plan environment by running a virtual workshop, while demonstrating a range of sports activities designed to help children with disabilities become more active.
What sort of work goes on?
Experts in brand strategy and identity, naming, creative copywriting, communications design and development, photography, animation and video production, The Engine Room has been trusted by leading manufacturers, tech firms, local councils, and more for over 20 years.
We don’t just tell clients’ stories. We break down complex challenges in the public and private sector, design experiences and inspire actions that deliver real world ROI. Through the power of design and business thinking — grounding creativity in commercial acumen — we help organisations find new perspectives and fresh ways of presenting truths that truly augment their impact.
While vast and varied, our portfolio of projects falls loosely into three categories:
Design for brand — Brand transformation and clarity of proposition in the minds of your customers.
Design for culture — Helping organisations to co-create and embed their purpose, principles and personality.
Design for society — Helping public sector and third sector organisations to make sense of complex challenges and create new ideas.
Why is the workplace appropriate?
As a small local business, we pride ourselves on building authentic relationships with colleagues, partners, and stakeholders alike.
Having a physical space where people are able to collaborate face-to-face is one of many ways The Engine Room is able to build on this — not only offering a fruitful hub of resource and inspiration for people to enjoy, but also inviting others to reap the benefits too. The scenic landscapes that surround the property make for further inspiration, and reinforce our strong Yorkshire heritage.
With flexible working as standard, the team appreciates the ability to direct their focus in private, when we choose to work from home. But with a central location as charming as York Mills, it comes as no surprise that this is where the most magic happens.
Who works there?
The Engine Room is made up of nine brand and design experts that each bring a unique skillset to the fold. With a member of the team’s career even coming full circle in 2021, when he rejoined the team after a few years elsewhere, we are immensely proud to see our culture and passion for the industry shine through.
Plus, with a trusted portfolio of creative partners, the firm’s capabilities extend even further afield too, and we are regularly called upon by other communications specialists — as well as industry bodies such as Design Council — to deliver strategic projects with design at the heart.
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