red deer artchitects, martello hall, featured image

Red Deer Architects and Design Explorers

Homegirl London’s Interview: Red Deer. This herd of three architects, friends and designers create everything from installations to spaces for retail spaces, bars, restaurants and residential properties. Projects include honest and humble restaurant interiors at Perilla in Newington Green to the botanical lushness of Bourne & Hollingsworth, an all-day brasserie in Clerkenwell. Whether they’re transforming an ecclesiastical Victorian organ factory into a family home or conjuring up a wedding altar in Canada, it’s all part their mission to strive for originality. I caught up with the trio behind Red Deer to find out more.

red deer artchitects, smokestak

Smokestak Barbecue Restaurant

Meet Red Deer

This agency is primarily a collaboration between three friends Lionel Real de Azúa, Lucas Che Tizard and Ciarán O’Brien. Ciarán is from Ireland and for both RIBA Part 1 & 2 he studied at University of Edinburgh. Lionel is half Uruguayan and half French, but grew up in Washington, D.C. He studied at University of Edinburgh for his RIBA Part 1 and Oxford Brooks for his Part 2. Lucas is half Argentinian and half British, he studied at Oxford Brooks for his BA and UCL for his MA. Ciarán and Lionel met during their tenure at the University of Edinburgh. They all worked together at the West London Architectural Practice called Michaelis Boyd Associates.

red deer architects, owners

From left to right: Lionel Real de Azúa, Ciarán O’Brien and Lucas Che Tizard

The trio tell me why they set up their business – “We wanted to create a lifestyle where we absorbed the world around us on our terms to create projects that expressed our interests, relationships and belief in start-ups. We wanted to work internationally, travel, build diverse projects, engage with art and installations and design our own houses one day. We wanted to afford ourselves the luxury of working on the projects with potential that weren’t always necessarily the profitable ones and thereby invest in people.”

red deer architects, chiswick fire station

No. 197 Chiswick Fire Station

Setting up their venture was done with very little capital, they reveal – “We started with barely enough money to cover our first month’s rent but we scribbled our first project on a page and we’ve not looked back since. We started the business with intensity and a ferocity, we knew that if we didn’t give up we would create a body of work we were proud of and travel, teach, work together and surround ourselves with a team and fabricators who we could build something special with.”

red deer architects, peckham refreshment rooms

Peckham Refreshment Rooms

As for the unusual name for their business, they explain – “We firstly wanted to avoid anything that directly referenced architectural design. We didn’t want to box ourselves in into solely that (we also do product design, teaching, set and prop design). Because of our diverse backgrounds, we sought to find a commonality between us and quite literally googled ‘what do Argentina, Uruguay, France and Ireland have in common?’ and it was the Red Deer, which was a native animal to all four countries.”

red deer architects east sheen gails

Gail’s Bakery East Sheen

The three owners are responsible for their own individual projects but sit down with each other during the initial design stages to come up with ideas. Weekly meetings get the nitty gritty bashed out about projects and resourcing to ensure that the business runs smoothly. They are mainly based in London, working from Soho Works in Shoreditch. This is where the fixed team is situated. Their global expansion will see teams in Los Angeles and Barcelona. As a collective, they are keen to keep boundaries fluid – “Architecture doesn’t need to have hard edges and a fixed location. Part of our ethos is to pursue a nimble path. Only the building is fixed, but our work is produced digitally, our business processes streamlined with tech, which lends itself to freedom. Architecture or building design, is so rooting in once place, but we needn’t be. We have spent our time as a practice searching for something that means something though collaboration, art, movement, and process; these are all touchstones of our creative process. We want to absorb the world and draw influence from unexpected references and to do that we need to be free to move about, travel and work fluidly. Above all we want to enjoy our lives, with the production of the fixed form as a constant and beautiful bi-product.”

red deer architects, baba bar

Baba Bar Peckham

Being their own bosses is something they relish – “Not being restricted to the working methods of others and being able to be ourselves and explore our own design ideas and inspirations. We can take risks that are educated and calculated. We strive to get as close to the precipice between failure at pushing ourselves forward and success at doing something that strives for originality. In pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones our buildings can be something more than just ordinary. We want to continue doing what we love, stay diversified and keep exploring.”

Five Red Deer Projects

Lûz: This six metre high clear pyramid was designed in conjunction with StructureMode and Weber Industries. The name Lûz is Spanish for light and this structure was created for the celebration of light. It is formed of twenty-seven 30mm thick reciprocal Plexiglass modules. Participants could interact with the structure which distorted their reflections by changing the light spectrum to reveal new geometric landscapes.

red deer architects, luz


Perilla: I’ve dined at this restaurant which is situated in Newington Green and loved the interiors. This project was all about listening to the existing bones of the building. For example, the original terrazzo floors and cross braced timber ceilings were all uncovered to show their beauty. The plaster and brick walls complement the space to give a natural, rustic and humble feel. With furniture and objects sourced via Ebay and borrowed, it has an cosy and welcoming vibe.

red deer architects perilla restaurant

Perilla Restaurant

Bourne & Hollingsworth: This modern brasserie and bar in Clerkenwell a collaboration with Box 9 Designs. Inspired by a stately colonial home, the space was transformed into a tranquil greenhouse and garden room. With botanical upholstery and lush green foliage, it’s certainly a haven where you can relax and unwind in the city.

red deer architects, bourne and hollingsworth

Bourne & Hollingsworth

Martello Hall: This Hackney bar and pizza joint has been uncovered to reveal the faded Edwardian glamour of yesteryear. You’ll see the reclaimed wooden floor boards along with bare plaster ceiling and walls. The oxidised bar has been created using reclaimed cast iron balustrades. It also houses a whopping pizza oven which you can’t miss!

red deer artchitects, martello hall

Martello Hall

The Organ Factory: This residential project transforms an ecclesiastical Victorian organ factory into a four-storey family home. The task included modernisation whilst keeping the buildings features intact. The result is a series of contemporary spaces with the subtle celebration of historical elements.

red deer architects, the organ factory

The Organ Factory

Red Deer Information

To find out more about the agency visit the Red Deer Website. Here you can view the portfolio online which showcases their diverse projects to date. You will also find a few items for sale on the website which includes a bamboo brass table and concrete tiles. If you have a project in mind, whether it’s a restaurant interior, residential property or installation, give them a call for a chat. See contact details on the website.

Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Red Deer. Thanks: Lionel Real de Azúa, Ciarán O’Brien, Lucas Che Tizard and Walker Kennedy.