Founded by theatre makers Felix Mortimer and Joshua Nawras, Styx is their venture into performance, music and workshops for N17. Located just a few minutes walk from Tottenham Hale Station, it’s a must-visit just for the design alone. And don’t get us started on the pizza.
We spoke to Felix about their venture, Tottenham sunsets and hidden nuclear bunkers…
Styx is amazing to visit, but kind of hard to describe to anyone who asks what’s it about. How would you describe it to a newbie?
Well, when we initially designed it, we just wanted it to be a place where we could hang out, share stories, conversations and bits of culture. It’s a large outdoor space with a central canal that at one point, as part of a performance, ejected visitors into the main body of the warehouse in coffins. There’s a bar within a freight container, DJs, a viewing platform (which is great in the summer as you can see the sunset), an Oscar-winning playwright, a library full of books, and Loven Presents – a pop up pizza parlour.
All of that from a car park in an industrial estate. Mostly, we just want it to be how we feel about Tottenham – different and exciting.
Where did the inspiration for the design come from?
While building Styx, we were in the midst of making a play based on Greek mythology. So that filtered down to the design – the hanging baskets, shutters, even an abstract piazza. Having water there was important too. Along with the plants and different textures, it helps it to feel organic. Our neighbour is the retail park, which is a little loveless and corporate. We wanted the opposite of that – for people to see the love put into it. Which can be hard to do in a car park.
Well, you pulled it off. What brought Styx to Tottenham?
I have lived in Haringey all my life. Joshua and I met and worked at the Bernie Grant Art Centre. We left there to start a company together and moved around mostly in east London, when suddenly an opportunity came up for this space. We were both keen to re-engage with the people we had worked with in Tottenham. It was a challenge taking over such a big space but it’s felt so much like we’re back home.
Do you have a favourite Tottenham memory?
When Josh and I worked at the Bernie Grant Centre, there was a place called Clyde Road Depot, which is now a housing development. One evening we took it upon ourselves to check it out and have a little poke around, and stumbled upon a nuclear bunker. It was supposed to be where Haringey Council would go in the event of a nuclear war – such a bizarre twist on a place we thought we knew so well.
So, you meet someone who is completely new to Tottenham. How would you tell them to spend their day in the area?
First, start off with a nice breakfast in Pistachios In The Park in Markfield Park. Then you have to go for a walk up the River Lea, one of my favourite places in Tottenham. You can be standing in Tottenham Hale, this thriving metropolis, then you walk five to ten minutes down the other side of the river and you are lost in the countryside – you really can’t beat it. Once you’ve done that, maybe stop in at Beavertown if it’s a Saturday, then come back down to Craving Coffee for a late lunch. Not forgetting spending your evening at Styx.
You mentioned Loven Presents earlier, who served me one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. Do you have any more plans to collaborate with cool local pop ups or small businesses?
Absolutely. We landed so much on our feet with Loven and want to keep that great relationship going. We’ve had other great food too during big events, but Loven will always be there. It would also be great to get people like Beavertown in here, and showcase other amazing Tottenham businesses. There are so many.
What exciting developments do you have coming up?
Well, it’s all going to kick off! We will now be open five days a week rather than three, starting in March. We’re in the midst of confirming a 180-seat theatre down the road with a programme of five plays all the way through March and April. There’s a big selection of performances, music and art events planned, keeping things really busy and vibrant. There will be nowhere quite like Styx in the summer.
So to finish up, give me Styx in three words?
Eccentric, exciting and electric.