Our studio

Take an old dairy, lashings of fresh air, a bunch of creative minds, and one lively whippet called Archi. That’s George & James.

So why George & James?

Because those are Simon and Darren’s middle names, and when the two of them were looking for the perfect name and scratching their heads over their kitchen table (they're partners in life as well as work), they liked the sound of it. Simon & Darren didn't have quite the gravitas they wanted, and Drayson & Leach, their surnames, made them sound ... well, not quite like the down-to-earth, approachable, first-name-terms practice they wanted to be.

Apart from this slight twist to the story, it's been a straightforward tale of growing the practice, one kindred spirit at a time.

Oh, and we’re no longer in Simon and Darren’s kitchen. Now we’ve each got our own desk (‘sit stand’ desks, no less), a lovely big table where we can get together or eat our lunch, and as much outdoor space as we – or Archi – could ever need.

"A pleasure to work with throughout"
— Russell
GJ Studio 43

The things we care about

The places where we live, work and play should be healthy and happy - filled with natural light, connected with nature, giving us everything we need to thrive.

But no two people are the same, so why should our homes, workspaces and social spaces be any different?

We have a simple mission: to create a place that starts with you.

We dig deep. We listen intently. We want to understand the way you live, to know what matters to you.

Context is our inspiration too, whether that's a busy city or the smallest hamlet, the deepest forest or the wildest coast. We relish getting to know your surroundings and drawing these into our design process.

We care deeply about how our buildings and interiors are made, which means turning materials over in our hands, thinking through the detail, and debating the finer points of craft.


We might appear young, but we’re surprisingly experienced. Between us we’ve worked on everything from York Theatre Royal and the cafe at Westminster Abbey to multi-housing developments and – of course – beautiful one-off houses in stunning locations.

We’ve left behind the more bureaucratic, sometimes cumbersome elements of the larger practices which launched us as architects. But those years opened our eyes to the possibilities of architecture and gave us a solid grounding, as well as confidence and ambition. Now we relish the freedom of being George & James.

We still work on complex, ambitious projects, but we do it our way. While rigour and efficient systems are as important as ever, there’s always space for an independent spirit, our best selves, and a readiness to get stuck in.

Our different perspectives bring a great deal to the studio, and we love bouncing ideas off each other and putting our heads together when a problem seems particularly knotty. Those are some of the very best things about being the resourceful, close-knit team we are.

Simon and Darren are both visiting tutors on the architecture course at the University of Portsmouth, so that enriches the conversation still further. It connects us to academic thinking, to even more perspectives, and to the optimism of the younger generation (and perhaps it keeps us looking so young too).

We’re lucky enough to work with some great consultants, and when we need a specialist craftsperson or heritage expert, say, we know exactly who to call. They’re very much part of the team too, and we’ll always appreciate what they bring to the table. 

Take the first small step.

Get in touch