Inside Radio's studio: an old brewery turned fish freezer

Cape Town-based studio Radio has added cutting-edge tech and slick fittings to its rough-and-ready industrial studio space.

In the early 1900s, during the Second Boer War, the Old Castle Breweries building in Cape Town brewed beer for English troops. Later, it was used by a fishing company as a freezing unit. Today, presumably after a good scrub, it's been transformed into a creative hub, filled with ad agencies and design studios - including, since 2011, Radio.

Founders Byron Meiring and Gert Schoeman have purposefully offset the space's rough, unplastered walls and creaky, metal-framed windows with a glossy, eye-wateringly white floor and gleaming fittings.

The studio's tech is also far from industrial-age. Amongst the team's most treasured items are their Wacom Cintiq 13HD and Apple TV - although the latter is almost as likely to be found beaming out Breaking Bad as sharing a new design idea to the team. One team member in particular likes to make an event of it: "Gert can't go a whole day without at least one bowl of popcorn," laughs Meiring.

Radio's love of great TV carries through to the Ron Swanson bobblehead doll sat on one of the desks. The Parks and Recreation character is one of Radio designer and illustrator Stephan Pretorius' heroes.

However, when Ron fails to provide the spark that's needed, the team thankfully have other sources of inspiration to turn to. A current favourite is a book by Rian Hughes: Custom Lettering of the '40s and '50s.

"It's honestly the best book we've bought," enthuses Meiring, and there's an ever-expanding rainbow of prints on display from the team's favourite illustrators.

Outside, Radio's presence is announced by a glowing neon sign, but inside the studio a giant 'R' gives a more subtle nod to the studio's name. "We got this made specifically for us," explains Meiring. "It's pretty heavy so we're a bit scared to put it on the wall, but it makes a good doorstop."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 223.