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East Anglia Future 50

Former Unicorn pub transformed into a creative business hub

PUBLISHED: 05:30 10 July 2019

Unicorn Studios, the new base for freelancers and creatives in Orwel Place, in part of the former Unicorn pub.
Founders Steve Butterworth, Rob Simpson and Dan Sloane. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Unicorn Studios, the new base for freelancers and creatives in Orwel Place, in part of the former Unicorn pub. Founders Steve Butterworth, Rob Simpson and Dan Sloane. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

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Freelance workers seeking a more sociable office environment have united to create a business hub at a former Ipswich pub.

Unicorn Studios in Orwell Place, Ipswich is a new co-working studio for local freelances and creatives.
Picture: ROB SIMPSONUnicorn Studios in Orwell Place, Ipswich is a new co-working studio for local freelances and creatives. Picture: ROB SIMPSON

Unicorn Studios has opened what was the Unicorn pub in Orwell Place, offering a unique working space for writers, illustrators, designers, and web developers.

Founders Rob Simpson, Steve Butterworth and Dan Sloane have spent weeks renovating and converting it ready for its new use.

Rob, a graphic designer, was among a group of creative people who shared a space at the Waterfront Studio, run by the university, until last year when the space was needed for students

He said: "A group of us got together to find something new, and started looking. It soon became clear that everyone wanted something different.

"We didn't want the feel of a traditional office space though we didn't want a table tennis table and a bar either."

The Unicorn gave them everything they needed.

"Downstairs we have the pub cellar which we are converting into work spaces, and there is a small courtyard at the back we are going to make a sitting out area."

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Rob added: "Freelancing can be very lonely. There are benefits working alongside each other. You can give each other advice and there is chat and banter. You don't get that if you are working alone.

"Now we have got it up and running we are looking to bring other creative freelancers in, writers and illustrators, web developers and publishers with their own disciplines.

"It is good to have a place to come to work in the town centre."

He said they can offer freelance workers regular space or the opportunity to hotdesk on a more ad-hoc basis.

"Anything we make we will plough back into developing the centre. A couple of guys are interested in having an editing suite in here."

Rob continued: "Suffolk is a good place to be based. It is easy to get to London to see clients, without being based there."

Steve Butterworth said: "I work from home and it is good to have a change of scene."

Growing a community in the Unicorn might have other benefits, added Rob. "Maybe as a collective we can pitch for bigger business?"

Unicorn Studio is hosting the next Sync Ipswich digital skills get-together on the evening of July 25, from 6.30pm.

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