i met romulus sim, aka studio romuu, at foundation coffee house in the centre of manchester’s northern quarter, during the first week of his debut print exhibition there.
specialising in line drawings that celebrate architectural elevations, detail and geometry, all of the pieces rom has on display have been inspired by his first-hand experience of the buildings, both from a personal and architectural perspective. when i ask him to pick a favourite, he quickly hones in on manchester’s (decidedly wes anderson) midland hotel – my personal favourite too – for a very touching reason: it’s where he got married, several years ago. although the marriage may not have lasted, he’s still drawn to the edwardian baroque architecture of the hotel’s grand facade, designed in the early 1900s by charles trubshaw, full of sweeping arches, balconies and sculpted panels – it must have been an absolute joy to sketch!
having studied architecture at the university of manchester, rom now works at a architectural practice in the city by day, while spending his evenings and weekends working on his architectural draughting. he’s only recently started selling his work online, but has already received multiple orders and bespoke commissions from his growing instagram audience, which gave him the push he needed to pull together his first exhibition at foundation.
running from 4 feb – 1 mar, the exhibition features many timeless architectural icons including the arc de triomphe, eiffel tower, big ben, st. paul’s cathedral, trellick tower, andrewes house at the barbican, and the aforementioned midland hotel. all are available to purchase from the coffee house (and posted out next day), but if you can’t make it along don’t worry – all are available via rom’s website too. he’s also open to commissions and has produced a number of bespoke cultural landmark designs for clients, as well as drawings of private homes. perfect for any architecture or minimalism geek (uh, hello!), rom’s drawings make a great gift to commemorate a special occasion, first-time meeting or your favourite spot in a cherished city.
a strong purveyor of sustainable art, all of rom’s drawings are printed on responsibly sourced, archival quality art paper, and packaged in acid-free recycled tissue and eco-friendly art tubes.
as a long-term manchester resident i thought rom would make the perfect candidate for my next secret city q&a! read on to find out his top tips for exploring the city..
rom, studio romuu
how long have you lived in greater manchester, and whereabouts are you based?
15 years and counting! i’m currently based in the lovely suburb of prestwich, but have mostly lived in the city centre during my time here.
what drew you to the city initially?
the buzz and perks of a big city like london, without the price tag, which means i don’t have to sell one of my kidneys to own a place here.
what’s your favourite thing about the city?
the grit and raw charm of the city’s industrial heritage.
best place for a morning cuppa?
favourite place for a design-fix?
this is more an art-fix but the whitworth gallery is both a stunning building to visit architecturally, and always holds amazing exhibitions and installations.
can you share an insider’s secret spot you’ve discovered in the city?
not a secret but i love the little back streets that spur off dale street which often remind of 1930s new york. i also love grub at fairfield and their plant powered sundays.
favourite way to spend a weekend in the city?
i’m quite the over-caffeinated city boy and will always love checking out a new café, bar or food venue and trying out a new cuisine (i’m quite adventurous with food so will try anything at least once). i love a pop-up event/festival, and visiting a good exhibition. when the weather is nice it’s sometimes lovely to get out of the city for walks. heaton park is great in the summer, and day out in the peaks is always brilliant!