A Multiverse Under One Roof: Lumsden's Award-Winning Design for Grimm & Co

Lumsden Designs an Inclusive Magical Space for Storytelling

Grimm & Co, the Rotherham-based children’s literacy charity, has opened their new home; the magical Emporium of Stories, following a 2.5-year transformation of a beautiful gothic-towered building. The charity partnered with the award-winning design team, Lumsden, known for creating iconic spaces for international brands, museums and cultural attractions, to lead the design, masterplan and fit out of their permanent Yorkshire home. This whimsical building, a blend of retail, educational, and culinary delights, promises to amaze and inspire visitors of all ages.


Securing the late 1800s church as their canvas, thanks to support from an Arts Council England small capital grant, Lumsden, in collaboration with Cod Steaks and Cronin has transformed the building into a castle of imagination, retaining and re-purposing many existing features, such as wooden pews and original Victorian joinery, the pulpit and the original church organ, whilst subtly shedding its former religious aspects. Now known as Grimm & Co’s Emporium of Stories, the welcoming exterior features whimsical railings adorned with the charity’s brand, surrounded by a burgeoning sensory garden designed to cater to diverse needs, including those of neurodivergent individuals, and a terraced café for sunny days.

Inside the Emporium of Stories, the enhanced and accessible offering includes Grimm & Co’s story themed café The Feastery, the Apothecary to the Magical, a flexible events and banqueting space known as Cliffhanger Castle, Grizelda’s Imaginarium and three different Writers Pad spaces to welcome schools, families and story lovers from across the region and beyond, all designed to be an inspiring place where imagination thrives.   

Visitors are first welcomed into The Blurb, a captivating entrance and introduction to the adventure awaiting within. The space features Grimm & Co’s new Emporium of Stories brand, developed in partnership with Lumsden by Hawaii Design, who created the graphics, branding and sub-brands for each space. The walls and ceilings are adorned with a large specially commissioned book installation created by Cod Steaks. 

They then enter a space that seamlessly integrates retail elements, including the Apothecary to the Magical inspired by Art Deco and Art Nouveau pharmacies where potions such as A Pinch of Happiness, Concentrated Concentration and Pearls of Wisdom can be found, and the Yorkshire Souk – a marketplace where everything is designed to foster creativity through a myriad of fantastical products to inspire young minds.


At the heart of the Emporium of Stories, is The Feastery café,  a mystical place where coffee, tea, cakes and snacks are on offer. Imagined as the oldest part of the building, the roots of a magnificent tree grow through the ceiling overhead and tucked away inside an ancient cupboard a bubbling spring cascades over moss-covered rocks as old as the Yorkshire moors. Here children and visitors gather around and are told the story of the building and Graham Grimm’s discovery of the Source of Imagination. This story created by the writer for The League of Gentlemen, Jeremy Dyson, is set in the 1100s before Rotherham became a modern city and influenced much of Lumsden’s design for the exterior and interior spaces.  

Beyond the Emporium of Stories and Feastery, Cliffhanger Castle is a large double-height space, once the Knave of the church, that houses the original pulpit and organ. This space doubles as a party and event space or can be an extension of the Feastery café at busy times.

Venturing onwards and upwards, guests encounter Graham Grimm’s office where he meets all beings (including mortals). There’s a chair for fairies, one for giants and one for human-sized beings. He’s a grizzly sort and has never left Rotherham. Contrast that to Grizelda, whose adventurous spirit took her to faraway journeys, and her Imaginarium showcasing fantastical treasures collected from around the world and imagined by children who visited Grimm & Co.

The experience culminates in the Writers Pads, three themed rooms accessed through secret passages, where small groups of children engage in workshops led by dedicated staff, who include an illustrator and scribe capturing the children’s stories in real-time. With each visit, children embark on a journey of creativity and writing, all leaving as published authors with bound copies of their stories and exiting via the giant beanstalk slide wrapping around Graham Grimm’s office.

Our charity uses the joyful discovery of stories to support children and young people’s literacies.   The building was a disused church with beautiful gothic features that needed celebrating whilst creating a new, high quality and stunningly sensational space for all.  Lumsden worked with this brief and designed something spectacular but also fabulously functional.  We’ve been thrilled to be able to work with this amazing team.

Deborah Bullivant, Founding Chief Executive of Grimm & Co

“Since our first encounter with the Grimm and Co team, we sensed the extraordinary potential of this project and through our collaboration have crafted something truly exceptional. Creating the Emporium of Stories has been a labour of love,” says James Dwyer, Creative Director of Lumsden on the project. “We’ve carefully crafted exciting spaces to ignite imaginations, whilst also providing tranquil retreats to cater to every visitor’s needs, ensuring an immersive and inspiring experience for people of all ages. It’s been an honour to support the Grimm & Co team on their journey, not only furthering their incredible mission but also helping them to become a remarkable visitor destination for Yorkshire.”

Entrance_The Blurb
Entrance_The Blurb

Grimm & Co’s new home represents a significant expansion of their mission; to change lives one story at a time, welcoming a broader audience and securing additional income crucial to their continued success. With its blend of fun, education, and community engagement, Grimm’s Emporium of Stories is designed to become a must-visit destination for the people of Rotherham and beyond.