Mix interiors 165 june issuu

Page 1

Mix Interiors 165

June 2016

ONE CHAIR, MANY PERSONALITIES Keyn Chair Group Achieve a range of looks by combining base, shell and frame finishes with an extensive choice of materials. Keyn’s three upholstery variants allow each look to be tailored; the seat-pad, semi- and fully-upholstered options can be combined with bright fabrics, more muted pastel shades or sophisticated leather. www.hermanmiller.co.uk/keyn-chair-group

Mix Interiors 165

Inside 76











14 Seven...

28 The Big Question

48 Tom Dixon - ege

Case Studies

16 The month that was

30 Skills set

21 Forward thinking

43 Makers' mark

56 Vanessa Van Overmeeren, modulyss

23 Material matters

58 Keyn Chair Group

64 CMS 70 Fourfront Group

76 Clerkenwell Design Week 91 Regional Review: North East


24 Desert island desks

Just an idea


Mix Interiors 165


The cover


The logo

Repetition is a common technique in Architecture: the brick, the colonnade, even entire buildings. Sometimes it’s fun to break that rhythm, but the real skill is in finding a balancing point in between. Our logo finds this point using three tiles, which rearranged make the generic into the unique. www.spaceandsolutions.com

from Mick

The cover image The guys at Bisley let their hair down with a highly unusual installation in St Johns Square for CDW. With the artistic guidance of creative collective Acrylicize, Bisley’s famous Multidrawer cabinets where transformed into Workflow, the most organised fountain in town. www.bisley.com

In a blink of an eye and a twinge of the liver another Clerkenwell Design Week has come and gone. Leading up this year’s event we heard a few rumbles of doubt over the lack of the Farmiloe Building as a hub. Strangely, I heard nothing throughout the event itself. I liked the new venues – particularly the Design Fields, and felt that Brewhouse Yard was (and is) geographically a much more fitting core. The one thing that impressed me the most about this year’s CDW was the number of major businesses who used the week as a product launchpad. London – and indeed the UK – has not had the right vehicle for major product introductions for well over a decade now and it was fantastic to see leading British

Get in touch

Back issues Contact us to buy back issues: rebecca@mixinteriors.com MIX INTERIORS 164

Mix Interiors 164

May 2016

Editor Mick Jordan mick@mixinteriors.com

Contributors Mark Eltringham Steve Gale

Editorial support Rebecca Sabato rebecca@mixinteriors.com

Address Mix Media Limited 2 Abito 85 Greengate Manchester M3 7NA

MAY 2016

Director David Smalley david@mixinteriors.com

REVEALING ALL Clerkenwell Design Week 2016 CLERKENWELL DESIGN WEEK SPECIAL Keyn_Mix-ad-single-page_May2016_aw.indd 1

firms such as Orangebox, Boss, Allermuir and Gresham use CDW to reveal their latest innovations. What’s more, when a business like Herman Miller decides that Clerkenwell is the right place for global product launch, you know things are heading in the right direction. It’s so important for the event and for our market. More of the same next year please. On a different note, it’s Mixology time again later this month. I really look forward to seeing a lot of you there. We do keep getting asked who’s doing the DJing this year. Well, I can reveal that it’s probably our biggest and best ever. If you can't wait for the big night and really want to find out who it is, head to page 97…

19/04/2016 14:34

Telephone 0161 946 6262

Designer Karen Newman Managing director Marcie Incarico marcie@mixinteriors.com Founding publisher Henry Pugh

e-mail editorial@mixinteriors.com Website www.mixinteriors.com Twitter @mixinteriors


Subscriptions To ensure that a regular copy of Mix Interiors reaches your desk, please call 0161 946 6262 or e-mail: sales@mixinteriors.com Annual subscription charges UK single £45.50, UK corporate (up to 5 individuals) £140, Europe £135 (airmail), Outside Europe £165 (airmail). Printed by S&G Print ISSN 1757-2371

Featured Project Inventiv Healthcare, Bloomsbury Arcademy Architects BW: Workplace Experts

T +44 (0) 28 796 43021 W www.sjg.co.uk




AV A I L A B L E I N C O M P A C T & L O U N G E D E S I G N S

HEAD OFFICE Platinum Park, Lynstock Way, Bolton BL6 4SA Tel: 01204 664422 LONDON SHOWROOM 65 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1R 5BL Tel: 020 7242 5709 www.gof.co.uk 4




Scottish Sett Plaid Raffia

Mod CafĂŠ Star Linen/Star Natural

WW865 Loch Warp/WW880 Charcoal Loom

Mix Interiors 160

EC4, biophilic design & #loveyourworkspace Natural analogues such as EC4’s solid oak legs and oak laminate detailing act as reminders of the natural world. This indirect connection plays a role in enhancing wider biophilic design which has been shown to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. 8

Mix Interiors 160

Introducing EC4

Combining the elegance and robustness of solid oak and steel, KI’s EC4 collection of workplace furniture brings an accent of nature to the modern office landscape. With all the inherent capabilities of a workstation system, EC4 brings a stylish touch to the open plan office, meeting rooms and third spaces.

KI Europe New Fetter Place 8-10 New Fetter Lane London EC4A 1AZ E: workplace@kieurope.com W: www.kieurope.com 9


BE BOLD Parla Design has teamed up with Barcelona design firm LaGranja to launch its new collection of multifunctional seating. The light and playful Bold is the perfect solution for flexible breakout and meeting spaces for both indoor and outdoor use, with its powder coated aluminium frame and black acrylic ropes. The form is gracefully contoured to offer maximum comfort. The Bold collection also includes a lounge chair, club sofa, bar stool and table. Furthermore, the family is available in six standard colours, with flexibility to customise for client requirements.

ONE SEATING RANGE – A MYRIAD OF POSSIBILITIES As the Boss machine continues to keep ahead of the game and in response to the growing demand for flexible seating solutions, Komac has unveiled a new range of upholstered modular furniture. Completely flexible and reconfigurable, Myriad provides specifiers and designers infinite layout configurations. Complete with 11 linkable seating units, three privacy screens, side tables and arms that accommodate power, a series of modules can be created and combined to suit any shape desired for complete flexibility. Commenting on the collection, Komac’s Julie Skipp says: ‘Myriad sets the benchmark for flexible seating in the corporate, hospitality and education sectors. Thanks to its infinite versatility, specifiers can not only meet the brief for multiple design configurations from one dynamic collection, they can also satisfy a wide range of users and environments.’ Myriad also has an extensive line-up of extras that may be mixed and matched to enhance each configuration. These include laptop tables, privacy screens, linking arms (with or without power), portable media units, freestanding tables, coffee tables and multi-purpose chairs.

HERE THE RAW Flexiform launched the new Ferro furniture range at last month’s Clerkenwell Design Week. Utilising a raw aesthetic, Ferro emphasises natural textures and the manufacturing process to create visually striking furniture. By leaving the materials raw, with exposed welding and a clear lacquered finish, Flexiform have given Ferro an organic, natural feel. Allied with premium high pressure laminate finishes and high quality fabrics, every Ferro product is unique, exhibiting both the natural texture of the materials and the expert craftsmanship put into creating each piece. A real winner from Bradford’s finest, we think.



It’s time to re-work your office.

WORKINTON, Motto TPU, Ä°stanbul, 2015

www.koleksiyoninternational.com New York / Dallas / Chicago / London / Istanbul / Dusseldorf / Vienna / Moscow St.Petersburg / Melbourne / Barcelona / Cairo / Bogota / Lima / Breukelen Baku / Almaty / Nicosia / Benghazi / Amman / Jeddah / Bahrain / Doha / Tehran 11


styles in carpet tiles

modulyssÂŽ designer Make floor design easy with modulyssÂŽ designer, an online tool that creates customisable floor layouts and calculates quantities in five easy steps.

Discover now at designer.modulysss.com More information? www.modulyss.com I 0800 096 2702 12


WORKERS, THINKERS AND MAKERS Peldon Rose has announced the launch of its new brand, Peldon Rose, Workers, Thinkers & Makers – a trademark that covers the full breadth of its expertise, services and style. The new branding has been created by design and branding agency, Deep, with the collaboration of Peldon Rose employees. Peldon Rose has worked closely with its team to distill the essence of what makes the company special and it has played an important part in the rebranding, by contributing its insights and experiences in pulling together the strands that make the company stand out from its competitors. Practising what it preaches, Peldon Rose, a Sunday Times 100 Best Company, aims to demonstrate that creating a work/love balance is fundamental to the company’s work – delivering workspaces where people love to be and ensuring that people are at the heart of its work, with a personal approach to each unique project. Friend of Mix, Benjamin Murray, Head of Marketing at Peldon Rose said: ‘I’m incredibly proud of the exciting new Peldon Rose brand, which defines our people and our business. At the heart of what we do are the brand principles that we are workplace thinkers and makers who create a work/love balance. This is a transformation brand in line with the transformational workplaces our talented individuals create.’

TAKING LIBERTIES Fresh from letting our hair down and having a bit of a dance at the wonderful Milliken showroom (it was Clerkenwell Design Week!) we are happy to report that Milliken’s in-house design team have also shown their creativity with a new collection called Artistic Liberties. It combines post-punk and street art influences with historic and classical references resulting in a liberation of clashing colours and twisted timelines. The disparate sources of inspiration include ornate patterned jewels, elegant damask and brocade fabrics and the illicit marks made by a street artist’s spray can. yourself, don’t forget the referendum!



Seven Points in Modern European History You may be reading this just days before one of the most significant events in the country’s history, on the 23rd June. We won’t be glib and suggest its Mixology, which will be great, but the European elections are significant. We feel that the Remainians will be victorious, however, before that we thought we would take short journey through what we think are some of the most important points in modern European history.

© IWM (Art.IWM PST 12171)

1. 1919: Treaty of Versailles was signed after months of argument and negotiation amongst the socalled ‘Big Three’. The British public mood reflected that of France and the Americans. ‘Hang the Kaiser’ and ‘Make Germany Pay’ were two common calls in the period immediately after the end of the First World War. But as history shows, the treatment of Germany with a combination of a harsh treaty and subsequent lax enforcement of its provisions, paved the way for the upsurge of German militarism in the 1930s. Today, European states are closer than ever before. The post-World War Two focus was on inclusion and cooperation on all sides, providing relative security, economic and political stability. The start of the European union?

3. 1955: Messina, Sicily, a beautiful part of the Mediterranean, was the host of a significant get together. The conference of the foreign ministers of the six member states of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) would lead to the creation of the European Economic Community in 1958. Delegations of the six participating countries – Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Belgium – met in Sicily, but, as with the straights of Messina, turbulent times were ahead.



2. 1950: Robert Schuman the then French Foreign Minister, proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), The ECSC (founding members: France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) was the first of a series of supranational European institutions that would ultimately become today's ‘European Union’. Still reeling after the Second World War, European governments concluded that working together in coal and steel production, particularly Germany and France, would make war between the two ‘not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible’.



4. 1963: Edward Heath, who became PM in 1970, had many low points. Being rebuffed by Charles de Gaulle, someone he trusted and regarded as an ally, was surely his worst moment in politics. After extensive negotiations, involving detailed agreements about the UK's agricultural trade with Commonwealth countries, the French President vetoed British entry. General de Gaulle accused Britain of a ‘deep-seated hostility’ towards European construction. He said London showed a ‘lack of interest’ in the Common Market and would require a ‘radical transformation’ before joining the EEC.


6. 1988: History shows that Margaret had a fairly long list of people she disliked, a lot. European Commission chief Jacques Delors might well have received the gold medal though. There were a few examples of Thatcher showing her distain for Delors but the most famous was when she started a meeting with the following: ‘Mr. Chairman, you have invited me to speak on the subject of Britain and Europe. Perhaps I should congratulate you on your courage. If you believe some of the things said and written about my views on Europe, it must seem rather like inviting Genghis Khan to speak on the virtues of peaceful coexistence!’

5 5. 1973: Finally we are in. Britain, Denmark and Ireland join the European Community, 10 years after De Gaulle rebuffed Britain. Along with Norway, all sign an accession treaty in 1972 only to be rejected by the Norwegians in a referendum later in the year. Denmark and Ireland hold successful referendums. The UK does not hold a referendum until 1975, after renegotiating its entry terms. The result is two to one in favour. The electorate voted ‘Yes’ by 67.2% to 32.8% to stay in Europe.

7. 2002: Born from the Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union, 1992), Euro coins and notes enter circulation in the 12 participating member states. UK and Denmark were the only members to opt out of using the currency. To date, 16 EU member countries, and approximately 330 million people use the Euro.


Did you know? Because of the number of historic bridges, arches, and gateways throughout the European Union and in an attempt to keep everyone happy, all the structures represented on the notes are entirely stylised illustrations.

yuno The smart alternative to the folding table.

ing Stackithout w



“Stacking without folding” – yuno retains all the benefits of a folding table and avoids its weaknesses. wiesner-hager.com


The month that was 2006

Here we take a look back through the Mix Interiors archives 1, 5 and 10 years ago






‘Even when I was at college and they wouldn’t open the workshop over holidays, the school back in Wales was happy to let me come back and use their facilities to manufacture a chair I was working on.’

‘Designers are often reluctant to use planting in the office, save for atriums and communal areas but it is perhaps time to reconsider… indoor planting is no longer about sticking planters on top of cabinets and should be an integral element in our designs.’

‘I think, as people head out into the workplace, they are now expected to work in a certain style – agile working, team working, working remotely – it makes sense for this to start with education and carry on through to the workplace.’

BDP’S MARK SIMPSON was Oliver Heath before Oliver Heath was!

SCOTT BROWNRIGG’S STEVE WOOD adds his own invaluable thoughts to our latest Round Table.

PRODUCT DESIGNER CRAIG JONES was very productive during his ‘holidays’.

WHERE ‘As a non-hierarchical organisation, open plan offices facilitate team work and improve internal communication.’ INFOSYS’ RAHUL MALHOTRA reveals that his company and its new Canary Wharf workspace are well ahead of their time.

WHAT ‘Look! That’s Pete Tong on stage! At an industry do! Hold up – it’s our industry do. Mixology, we’re delighted to say, was the talk of the town.’ Even we couldn’t quite believe the inaugural MIXOLOGY had been such a success. Where’s that 10 years gone?

WHERE ‘With most clients, you to try to push and they push you right back. With these guys, they just wanted to push things further and further…we really had a bit of fun here.’ BASE INTERIORS’ RICHARD BRAY clearly enjoyed being pushed by money broking client MINT.

WHAT ‘We’re not the same company we used to be. We asked ourselves the key questions: What are we? Why are we here? What do we mean to our customers?’ MILLIKEN’S ALISON KITCHINGMAN explains the thinking behind the company’s Signature rebrand, which was unveiled globally at CDW.


WHERE ‘It’s very, very open. The idea behind this is to make sure that we are collaborative, that we are cross-pollenating – and we move around the idea is that we sit somewhere different every day.’ THOUGHTWORKS’ award-winning London workspace is what we like to call agile.

WHAT ‘They are honest questions – they (the judges) are not trying to trip you up. It’s refreshing and the atmosphere in there is rally good. Some of the questions were the same questions I would have asked myself.’ MAGNUS LONG clearly enjoyed the Design Guild Mark judging process.


M PEOPLE Congratulations to M Moser Associates, who recently celebrated their 35th Anniversary party on the roof terrace of 1 Poultry at the fantastic Coq d’Argent. The Honk Kong based firm, who have an office in London, welcomed guests from around the world to mark this special occasion in their history. Their founder, Moira Moser, was in attendance along with many directors from global offices. The event gave M Moser Associates the opportunity to showcase some of the exciting elements they are now incorporating into their design process, including virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D printing.

MAKING SENSE You will be aware that Biophilic design is something that we think makes such sense that we give it fair share of coverage. The endearing Oliver Heath introduced many of us to the principle of bringing the outside in, and more recently, at our Roundtable in the April issue, Ian Drummond, Creative Director of Indoor Garden Design, gave us a great insight into his world of plants. It was therefore a great treat to meet up with Anna Rank from Mixology shortlisted firm Hassell at the Scandinavian Business Seating / HÅG showroom, who showed us around the indoor garden that Ian and his team helped create. This was no pair of potted plants – far from! Described as the pleasure garden, ‘Sensorium’ paid homage to the gardens of the 18th century, which fundamentally altered the way people interacted with each other and the space around them. At the heart of the Sensorium was a mysterious black space, which offered guests unexpected perspectives of the surrounding pleasure garden. Perceptions are altered and manipulated through a series of ‘peep holes’ and senses are heightened or removed to provoke visitors to question what makes their viewpoint unique. The Sensorium was a wonderful challenge to the senses and a bold statement about possibilities in the workplace.



info@progressfurnishing.co.uk London 020 7836 3636 HQ 01634 290 988 www.progressfurnishing.co.uk
































2016 (f)



2017 (f)



UPS AND DOWNS OF THE OFFICE Commercial office output and growth has been a rollercoaster for the last 10 years and forecasts from ONS and Construction Products Association suggest this is not going to change. As we have been reporting in our Mix Regional reviews, strong demand has fuelled the take-up of office space in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Bristol but availability of Grade A space remains lower than the pre-recession peak in 2007 (see table). As we go to press, two significant announcements from Manchester (Bruntwood, 300,000 sq ft of office space and Media City, 540,000 sq ft of office space) show that investor appetite is strong and, as we will be reporting in more detail next month, following our Mix Inspired Birmingham, exciting things are taking place with the redevelopment of Paradise Birmingham and Colmore Row. However, the rollercoaster is likely to continue as developers catch up with demand over the next three to five years.

RIGHT TOUCH Soft Touch Arts, based in Leicester, took advantage of a donation from one of Overbury’s major projects in the city to support its Re-Fab project, which uses arts to give disadvantaged young people aged between 14 and 25 opportunities to develop creative, life and employability skills. The Re-Fab project is funded by the RBS Skills & Opportunities Fund. Overbury is currently carrying out the £4.2m refurbishment of 40,000 sq ft of office space, located at 20-40 New Walk on behalf of Leicester City Council. The site is a stone’s throw from Soft Touch Art’s home at 50 New Walk. Christina Wigmore, Director of Soft Touch Arts, explained: ‘When we saw the work going on next door, our Arts Project Leader, Kieran Walsh, asked the Overbury team if they had any materials we might be able to repurpose for the Re-Fab project. They were very obliging and provided us with wood and metal that we were able to put to very good use.’ Chris Mellor, Contracts Manager at Overbury, said: ‘Soft Touch Arts is a small charity, but one that does great work with young people locally. As a business we know that we don’t work in isolation and that the communities around our projects are just as important as creating the fit-for-purpose spaces they will occupy. Where we can, we love to support local causes and we’re looking forward to seeing what the talented people working on the Re-Fab project are able to create with the materials.’ Overbury’s work on the 20-40 New Walk building is expected to be completed this month, with IBM expected to move in shortly after.



introducing ferro...

raw furniture with textured laminate tops & a clear lacquered finish




see the full range at www.flexiform.co.uk/ferro BY FLEXIFORM BUSINESS FURNITURE 19


SixE LEARN PearsonLloyd

efficient elegant ergonomic ease economic environmental

HOWE uk 82 Clerkenwell Road, London Tel: 020 3608 1939 csuk@howe.com


www.howe.com 20


Forward Thinking M Moser's Steve Gale, tells us that if you Google CDW, you get Collision Damage Waiver Furniture is not really my thing I am slightly embarrassed to say, but I know it’s what falls out when you invert a building. I have a bit of a blind spot, being more of a people person these days, but mercifully I have found a mentor to persuade me. 'Just in time for CDW' and then explained what these three letters mean, and in no time I wanted to bask in the warmth of 'the UK’s leading independent design festival and one of the most acclaimed trade events on the international design calendar' according to the Craft Council. That’s quite a claim to live up to, and this is what I learnt (some names changed). So, after my day job, I get a taxi later than I’d like to Farringdon to meet the crew. I am boyishly excited to not only have my mentor as a guide, but also a guest from our San Francisco office, Sal Bosco, who has had three hours sleep in three days. 'All gummed up rahnd Farringdon mate. Quicker to walk from ‘ere' taxi driver advised, so I peg it into 'the zone'. There’s Sal, bang on time, so I guide him like a seasoned CDWer along two short streets and turn left into a human wall, actually more like a lake, of people washing and lapping gently up against the shores of Great Sutton Street, swirling slowly like the raft of plastic bottles somewhere in the Pacific Ocean that’s supposed to be visible from space. We are absorbed like a cricket ball hitting the outfield, all momentum gone, and blinking gormlessly I spot familiar faces a mere 20 feet away. Here, in the churning urn of Clerkenwell are friends, Pip, Fritz and Boz from my office looking very pleased with themselves. I glide towards them. Two more turn up and I feel humbled by their professional interest in the latest furniture offerings. I had no idea of the

empathy for modern design that resided in admin people and financial controllers. Where had all this enthusiasm come from? Another face I recognise, the very sporty Lurch, hoves into view generously carrying three beer bottles. This is more like it, refreshment to whet our appetite for what is obviously a very popular display of hardware. I soon find that the three bottles are for Lurch’s personal consumption, and begin to contemplate the pub opposite, which is almost empty as everyone is in the street, when up bounces my furniture mentor Chunky Banter.

Furniture, it’s what falls out when you invert a building

'Here you go!' He produces bottles and glasses of wine from somewhere, hands them around to what is now an office reunion, and then nips off for more. Now with the basics covered I ask Chunky what is going on. 'Welcome to my world' he beams, 'this has got to be the most mental Clerkenwell week yet'. But where is the furniture I wonder? Things look up when Jack turns up with a real furniture rep, Tom from Wisley, or Selsea or maybe Tilsey. 'Have you got any furniture, 'I ask trying to contain my excitement, adding 'I think I have played cricket at Southsea'. Tom says predictably 'have a beer' followed by 'Join the queue for a hot-dog, they are really good,

Steve Gale is Head of Business Intelligence at M Moser Associates. SteveG@mmoser.com


I’ve had two, or there’s burgers at Nollers if you want'. Beer is swallowed, wine is spilt, bottles begin to form a small unstable bottle mountain using a lamp post for structural support. Sal is now talking to Lurch who is supplying him with cigarettes without any writing on them. He’s got no hands free for a hot-dog. Strangers come up and talk, or maybe they’re not strangers – and then I see it. This is actually CDW, I am not in the waiting room. From here I am free to wander ten paces into a real cutting edge showroom, and a few steps along the road to another – and so on. There’s the ThinkStuff, Ironbox, Biltong, Germanic sounding Berndt Stix, an Italian Ferrami, and a rather British sounding Bretton Wood, and that’s all within one sweep from my spot, bobbing in the human lake. These places are very very busy, and peering through the windows I can see it’s not completely dedicated to viewing tables and chairs. It’s now only eight o’clock and radical shapes are being cut while a band hits some well-practised covers. 'This would be illegal in San Francisco,' marvels Sal, 'drinking in the street, vehicles driving around with people in the road, and now smoking' he said taking a pull on his third cig 'it’s like Naples, but not as warm'. More risqué than San Francisco, and certainly cooler than Naples (by a few degrees) – I was proud of how this part of London had turned out. You could almost photograph the optimism and energy, and indeed some did. 'You should come a bit earlier next year,' said Chunky.




Material Matters In this month’s Material Matters, the team at Material Lab highlight

innovation in adding a unique, contemporary twist to traditional materials. www.material-lab.co.uk

Rupert Bevan crafts fine furniture with a unique and luxurious twist Rupert Bevan and his team of designers, makers and finishers finely craft unique furniture and luxurious interior finishes. The spectrum of work they undertake is vast and varied both in style and scale. All of Rupert Bevan’s furniture and finishes are made in Britain, often by hand, and using traditional and sometimes rare artisan techniques. Recent interiors projects utilising brass, zinc, copper and mirror forge a link between luxury materials and cutting-edge design. www.rupertbevan.com

Ellis White combines materials, manufacturing and form for unique footwear Ellis White is a newly established footwear brand that seeks to create a relationship between material, manufacturing and form. Taking cues from industrial manufacturing techniques for use on a much smaller scale, Ellis White has developed Bit Leather – an upcycled leather composite material – using scraps of leather from the footwear industry to meticulously craft custom heels and soles. Sculptural shapes are given a contemporary treatment through playful colours, contrasting textures and a detailed approach to construction. www.elliswhite.com

Xiral Segard’s Work in Concrete adds beauty to a traditional building material Xiral Segard is fascinated by the concept of 'work in progress'. She predominantly uses building materials such as concrete, which form the basis for her collections Wall Of Fame and Watertower at Home. For the latter project, Segard created a tall, concrete structure that is both architectural and practical. The side table is a tribute to the 'monumental architecture' of the French countryside. And complete with a removable wooden tray, it is the perfect addition to any contemporary space. www.xiralsegard.com

Marianne Kemp transforms horsehair into delicate textile works Textile artist Marianne Kemp specialises in weaving with horsehair. Each piece has a unique character, granted by her unconventional weaving techniques and the combination of texture, colour and movement. The Mountain Shine collection fuses handwoven horsehair in an organic pattern with a brown woollen background. The warm colours of caramel and yellow flow into one another to create a landscape – inspired by a recent trip to Japan. Similarly, HCHWA-D also finds inspiration in nature. www.horsehairweaving.com/weaving



Desert Island Desks 1 GRENSON ARCHIEBROGUES Grenson have been making amazing shoes for over 150 years here in England. I feel such a sense of history in wearing a pair. Maybe not the most practical for a desert island, but they are really comfortable once broken in, and after months on the island, a bit of polish and maybe re-soling will ensure these shoes will last a lifetime.

This month’s desert island castaway

is Matthew Kobylar, Director of Interiors and

Workplace Strategy at Arney Fender Katsalidis

2 MACCHINETTA These Espresso making gems are a complete mystery to me. I always feel like I am screwing the parts together wrongly and something is going to explode in the kitchen. I think this, and the deep rich coffee, make for an exhilarating morning. Look for older models though, for some reason Bialetti who started making them in 1933 manufactures them now with this ridiculously large cartoon logo that is too obnoxious to deal with first thing in the morning.



3 MIKASA VOLLEYBALL With all the sand on my desert island, it’s the perfect location for beach volleyball. I normally play indoors, but I wouldn’t want to lose my skills whilst lost on the island. Mikasa balls were the official balls of the London Olympics. I know it takes at least four people to play, but until they show up, I can be like Tom Hanks and have my own friend to keep me company… Kon’nichiwa Mikasa!



Tel 01925 850500 4 LIFESTRAW This drinking 'straw' filters 99.9% of bacteria and parasites from water. It requires no batteries and can filter water for one person’s needs for a year. What I really like about the company is that since 2014, for every Lifestraw product purchased, they provide products to developing countries so that school children can have access to clean drinking water. To date, the programme has provided access to more than 360,000 children.

Email info@sixteen3.co.uk Web www.sixteen3.co.uk


5 BURGON AND BALL – GROUNDBREAKER SPADE I enjoy spending time in my garden in London, but it’s a pretty small patch. In my spare time, I would turn the whole desert island into the Kew of the Pacific. This spade, endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society, has a stainless steel blade. It’s as if the act of lifting dirt from the soil were studied to create this tool. From a design perspective this tool follows the motto of 'design follows function'.


London Showroom The Gallery, 21-22 Great Sutton St. EC1V 0DY / Manufacture/Showroom Chesford Grange, Woolston, Warrington, Cheshire, WA1 4RQ



Mix Interiors 165



28 The Big Question

30 Profiles


The Big ? uestion What design method or tool do you use today that you didn’t ten years ago?

Magnus Long Hitch Mylius

Mirto Antonel Alea

Carol Appleton Ege

Manisha Selhi Milliken

Kevin Thompson Godfrey Syrett

Lydia Addison edge design / Pledge

In terms of process, we now do a lot more designing and presenting, using physical modelling and full-size test-rigs in the studio, rather than just computer modelling. That’s partly to do with simply having a larger studio, but also because it leads to more interesting and suitable designs. If a client can see past the rough materials of a lash-up model and gets the narrative and possibilities, then things go smoothly. It’s a good filter.

Millitron digital patterning technology was something that was new to me when I started working for Milliken two years ago. It’s a technology that takes time to master but its capabilities allow us to create innovative printed design in line with design and colour trends. Working on a variety of different substrates was also new to me so this, together with the design and colour flexibility Millitron offers, was a refreshing change.

What is relevant now compared to the past, is the opportunity to design with new tools and materials. The materials used to make objects are not only functional, they now need space for narration so design becomes the medium to make it happen. The second interesting tool is computer technology which allows people to design in one place and make the final object in the opposite part of the world.

When I trained, there were no computers – we drew everything by hand. In the last 10 years this process has changed drastically and computers are now the basis of every design we produce; using programmes like AutoCAD. Similarly, the advances in manufacturing have been significant too. The development of things like laser cutting means that we can now design concepts and furniture pieces that wouldn’t have been conceivable 10 years ago.

Umbrella editorial banner CDW 2016.pdf 1 25/04/2016 13:45:24 C



Come and join us at Brewhouse Yard to celebrate CDW





w: www.umbrellafurniture.com e:


brella r

re o

t: 020 3119 3144




I would like to highlight the use of the web for telling a design story to customers. Carpet is very difficult to project from a small swatch in a book. The web allows us to tell the product story, create a mood and a style, educate the user and put forward an aesthetic point of view.

My biggest design tool when generating initial concepts is my notepad and a pen. I don’t think this will ever change regardless of the evolution of software around me. I have however, noticed that my interaction with 3D design software has increased considerably. The ability to quickly draft up a concept and then shift smoothly through to the technical and visual elements enables me to be a more efficient designer.


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This month's Spolight concentrates on the work of the product designer, both in-house and external. Once again we've compiled an exhaustive list of creative superstars, who reveal a few tricks of their invaluable trade.




Herman Miller MOST RECENT PRODUCT The Keyn Chair Group for Herman Miller, launched at Clerkenwell Design Week.


PRODUCT Side Table 1025 THE THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES Being so close to a solution, but not seeing it yet. WHAT DRIVES YOU I can’t make another chair, but I can make other pieces of furniture to sit on:) In previous years I discovered how difficult it is to tell this to producers, but I persisted. Designing means daring to make a statement, not confirming objects to be formed in the same way forever, because we are used to it. I also can’t see materials separated from their forms and like to explore opportunities of materials. I like to see limits and learning by doing.

THE THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES Follow up movies that ruin the original (such as Star Wars prequel trilogy) WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR For every creation! I start with my sketchbook, continue to making/testing/feeling real models scale 1/1 at my working place, because 'I just can’t sit on a drawing'.

THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER It's hard to choose an individual but working with talented people who are super passionate about what they do definitely influenced me. And joining forpeople, which is full of inspiring people, was the best career move I ever made. WHAT DRIVES YOU Having conversations with people in different fields and perspectives gives me new motivations and insights. WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR A good humble guy






Knoll MOST RECENT Collection 016

The Legend collection brings the layered, organic textures of the forest floor into the commercial interior. Legend is a contemporary interpretation of folklore and the enchanted wood. Its rich multi-level loop texture, inspired by tree bark, lies under a blanket of simple organic pattern. Tiles and broadloom options offer many practical possibilities for coordination and combination to create zones and focal areas. The palette is organised into three coordinated tonal groups to give many possible colour combinations. Legend is available in 48x48 cm carpet tiles, 96x96 cm carpet tiles and as broadloom (designed by Carol Appleton).


The Ecotrust felt backings are produced from recycled water bottles. An innovative production technique turns bottles into a soft yet strong PET felt material that is long lasting and has great acoustic performance. At ege carpets we use Aquafil’s Econyl yarns, among others, produced from used fishing nets. Once the fishing nets are collected and cleaned, they are physically and chemically broken down and reborn as strong and hardwearing yarns for carpets.

THE THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES Poor mentoring/nurturing of design students in our educational system. THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER Connecting with creative and energetic people. For me, collaboration with other designers has always amplified the whole experience of the design process. You learn and grow into a better designer each time. WHAT DRIVES YOU Telling stories with design and colour. I think the final product is richer in good design, when it comes from research, experiment and refinement of a great story. WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR Creating products which worked, in every respect, the aesthetics, performance, the price point. I would like to be remembered as a designer who understood the context and delivered a great solution. 31



WHAT DRIVES YOU Rather than a burning desire to prove myself, now my passion is simply when there is a chance to work with great people and create a great project. It’s not about me anymore and what people can do for me, but what I can do for others. The most incredible thing has been getting my ego out of the way and letting each project develop itself in the purest, noblest and most successful of ways – honest, ego-less design!


MOST RECENT PRODUCT Legend Ecotrust – sustainable carpet design by ege.


CHRIS RABY Flexiform MOST RECENT PRODUCT Ferro Raw furniture.


MOST RECENT PROJECT hs2 offices. WHAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES: INSIDE WORK: In the workplace it’s when people are limited by their fear of failure, this is something I always avoid – my motto is if it feels right, just do it. What’s the worst that can happen? If it’s wrong – do it again until its right. never be restricted by self-doubt. OUTSIDE WORK: I get really annoyed when the local pub is closed.

REGIONAL FOCUS: RECENT DEVELOPMENT It has to be ferro – our new raw-look organic furniture – I have really enjoyed working on this project. The brief was simple – do something that is not flexiform, but is also, typically flexiform! So, back to the drawing board…literally. I dug out the old layout pads and sketched away! Ferro is all about acknowledging what we are – manufacturers of really good quality office furniture out of raw materials. So with exposed welding, clear lacquered finishes and textured worktops we achieved just that. This really was a labour of love for the engineering department. We actually made the product ourselves – a true back to floor experiment for us all. To be honest we really enjoyed getting back out there; welding, folding, grinding and sawing – getting involved with the raw materials – it was great fun. BIGGEST INFLUENCES Back to school holidays, spent on construction sites with my father (a building engineer), appreciating the stages involved in large scale commercial buildings from architects drawings, groundworks, steelworks and onwards. I learned to appreciate all the elements of a project must work together to make it successful. Good design only works with good engineering and good understanding. Every element must be considered, the smallest detail can influence how a product looks and functions and how it is made.

DOROTHÉ KESSELS Forbo THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER I have always been fascinated by colour and enjoy drawing, but I also like the natural outdoor environment very much. So I thought about what I could do to combine my passions. I first travelled to London and Paris to see various design influences at work there – it was a fantastic time for me, travelling and designing. Travel is a great source of inspiration for me – you see many different designs in architecture, art and fashion, such as unexpected colour combinations or unusual shapes. The cultural differences in behaviour and the way people think also makes you see your own world from another perspective.



KATERINA MCMAHON Morgan MOST RECENT PRODUCT The Manhattan Nap Booth, launch date may 2016. Research has shown that our working environment is bad for our health when we spend many hours sitting at a desk. Variety of posture is the key, including a reclined position and ideally a 15 min nap in the middle of the day. This is what the nap booth offers, with an ergonomically designed 'seat' and privacy fretwork screens. THE THING THAT MOST GETS ON YOUR NERVES Attitude. The suggestion that you have nothing to improve on.

WHAT DRIVES YOU A constant self-criticism and a strong work ethic. I often have ideas at four in the morning – as a designer you never leave your work. I AM INFLUENCED by contemporary art and design, and I believe in ‘less is more’. The best designs often have a clear simple message and form. I GUESS I MIGHT BE REMEMBERED for some good chairs – but would also like to be remembered as a good mentor to my team at Morgan.


Magnus Long


MOST RECENT PRODUCT Hitch Mylius hm106 Quiet Collection, which was recently awarded the Design Guild Mark – and a new product range soon to be launched.

MOST RECENT PRODUCT New design and re-colouration for ‘Out of the Shadows’ collection. WHAT IS THE THING THAT MOST GETS ON YOUR NERVES? Running late and being stuck behind a painfully slow driver.

THE THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES I don’t like waiting for product samples to be made.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER? Abstract imagery and striking colour palettes in artwork. I love working with colour and I am fascinated by pushing the boundaries so that beautiful colour combinations make a strong statement. My passion for colour started with studying the works of Monet, Manet and Cezanne at school.

WHAT DRIVES YOU The whole design process is a buzz, especially when it’s for a dedicated client. There’s usually a wait in the middle whilst designs are being sampled and manufactured, but then there’s a huge sense of satisfaction at the other end, seeing that design in someone’s home or as part of an interiors project. WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR To be known and remembered for creating designs for British furniture brands which don’t fall out of fashion and are relevant in many years to come, would be really fine.

JASON HOLMES Forbo RECENT PRODUCTS I've worked on the Flotex Linear range. Linear is on trend and lends itself to flooring really well. THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN MY CAREER I get my inspiration from everywhere: magazines, media, trade shows and even exhibitions. However, the best ideas often happen when I am travelling. I have visited NeoCon in Chicago, North America’s largest design trade fair and conference for commercial interiors, numerous times and it never fails to inspire me. It is a great chance to meet and exchange ideas with other designers and to see all the latest interior products and finishes. 33

WHAT DRIVES YOU I’m a little bit of a perfectionist and I take pride in knowing I’ve done a job well both in my personal and professional life. It does drive my husband a bit crazy though!




LYDIA ADDISON edge design / Pledge WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR Being a good designer. Creating successful and eye catching designs that consider the whole design process from individual component design to efficiency of assembly. MOST RECENT PRODUCT YOU WORKED ON Me, Myself & I with edge design. THE THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES Drivers that forget they have indicators…especially at roundabouts!



MOST RECENT PRODUCT I’ve recently been working on things like Mr Jones, our awardwinning soft seating range, the Layz range and the Jude two-seater sofa.

WHAT DRIVES YOU The challenge to rethink and observe how we evolve and interact with our environment will always inspire me. With fashion/trends having an impact on one side and technology on the other, plus the growing convenience to have a fusion of them both, provides a fast-paced and exciting industry to be a part of.

WHAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES The fact that there are only 24 hours in a day! THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER During my first year at university, Yrjö Kukkapuro was a visiting lecturer on my course. He was a massive inspiration and the influence that pushed me towards furniture design.

EDO REM Forbo MOST RECENT PRODUCT The latest collection I have been working on at Forbo Flooring Systems is the Synergy collection. This collection has been specifically designed for the office segment. It offers a seamless transition across carpet tiles and luxury vinyl tiles – two different products with a common design direction, in modular formats and with the same quick and cost effective installation method. WHAT DRIVES YOU I really like to work in an environment where creative and innovative solutions are born. Over the last few years, Forbo has continued to invest in its carpet tile collections and the textile design and product management team have certainly delivered a versatility of design, construction and formats across the Tessera and Westbond brands, which consistently reflect office trends.

WHAT DRIVES YOU I like the whole creative process, and designing things that people can use. I enjoy the team effort that goes into making a concept a reality. Once something goes from design into production, everyone feeds into the process, and the end result is a beautiful piece of furniture.

MICHAEL KILDARE Godfrey Syrett MOST RECENT PRODUCT Currently, I’m working on revamping our storage range to make it into an all-round more flexible and cohesive offer. WHAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES Turning right out of junctions. BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR CAREER I’m massively influenced by other designers; people like Frank Lloyd Wright, Dieter

Rams, and Jacob Jensen – I love his work for Bang & Olufsen. WHAT DRIVES YOU For me, the biggest buzz is seeing a product I’ve designed go through the manufacturing process and coming out as an actual, physical thing. Working for a manufacturer means that you’re exposed to the whole process; from design conception to customer feedback.


WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR I want my creations to be remembered – design immortality is the dream!




Hide_ Acoustic Pod

Furniture for social spaces Showroom_Broad Yard Turnmill Street Clerkenwell EC1M 5RR

frovi.co.uk 36






RECENT PRODUCTS Camira’s wool blend fabric synergy, available in 75 colourways.

RECENT PRODUCT/PROJECT I’ve been working at with the Alea team, is a new furniture and desks system collection. The name of the product is Ibis and we are now developing the catalogue. The name, as every single line creates a shape, is never random, and always reflects a meaning which always connects to other meanings. 'Less is more', phrase of the genius Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, used this principle as the basis for the new architecture. An architecture which no longer looked at ostentation and complexity of the result as the goal to achieve, but provoking a new way to create, able to generate buildings and objects made of essential and flawless shapes designed to identify the function. Thanks to cutting edge technologies, it’s now possible to realise very complex manufacturing with sustainable costs, using light and resistant structures and elegant shapes. This is Ibis.

THE THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES Having notebooks full of ideas and not enough time to explore them all. THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN YOU CAREER Designing high end apparel fabric for Samuel Tweed earlier in my career taught me valuable lessons which I use to this day. The importance of interpreting colour and trend information correctly, the principles of range building and creating families of fabrics that fit cohesively together, but do different jobs. The hands-on designing – the cloths were hard to simulate on CAD so best designed away from the computer with yarns strings, point paper and imagination, and making alterations at the loom.

NINA BAILEY Desso RECENT PROJECT A dramatic floor layout to launch the new Essentials collection in Desso’s showroom.

WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR I’d be flattered if it were for my contribution to how we use trend and colour information. at Camira, we don’t subscribe to one particular authority. We cast our net very widely, inspiration can be taken from a trade show or something see on television the night before. Wherever inspiration is found, it’s brought back to our trend wall, like bees returning to the hive with pollen, which in turn fuels the next evolution of trends.

WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR I love working for Desso because of the importance they place on sustainability and the products actually inspire me to create cutting edge flooring proposals. Similarly, I like my designs to be appreciated and noted for being functional, appropriately beautiful and...good for the planet.

WHAT DRIVES YOU I am enthusiastic about eco-friendly and recycled products/materials and wherever possible try to use products with high recyclable content in my proposals. It’s great working with clients who are interested in using environmentally friendly floor coverings.

WHAT GETS ON MY NERVES Sadly, many manufacturers within the commercial sector are not concerned with how some processes can be detrimental to the environment.


THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES Fast development drags into chaos that often translates in superficiality. THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR CAREER Humans do essentially three things: thinking, living emotions and acting. This explains why we are fascinated by objects, they unleash emotions. But industrial design goes beyond pure beauty, it is also has meaning and to obtain it requires responsibility, skill, people, ideas and team work. The input for a new design can be provoked by client’s needs, structural issues, sometimes it develops from an apparently banal sketch. Either way the result has to cause an emotion.


WHAT DRIVES YOU My colleagues at Camira. Sitting within product development is like being a page in the book of 'everything you ever needed to know about textiles – and some more'. We are a wonderful mix of age groups and expertise. Scientists, chemists and designers all collaborate together. Just within our department we have over 400 years of collective textile knowledge, so if I have a question, I just take a walk from my desk or pick up the phone.



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MERANTINE PAREE Forbo RECENT PRODUCTS One project of mine has been the marmoleum modular range – a new concept in linoleum tiles and planks.


THE THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES Nearly nothing…ok, sometimes when I think deep philosophical…that time is running too fast.

WHAT DRIVES YOU I find great pleasure in creating an experience that tickles the imagination of the audience.

JUSTUS KOLBERG Senator WHAT ANNOYS YOU Standstill WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR CAREER When I saw my professor Dieter Zimmer sitting on the Vertebra task chair from Giancarlo Piretti in 1985. This chair was, for its time, so forward-looking, that I felt designing task chairs is what I really would like to do. WHAT DRIVES YOU Every new design is a part of the future. This idea nourishes my passion. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR As an open minded development partner with a strong own design vision.

WHAT DRIVES YOU Design is my endeavour to make people happy. Because happy people stand for freedom, peace and culture. This is my contribution for a better world in the future. The other thing is, it makes a lot of fun to make design…the best profession for using head and hands. WHAT YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR First of all I wish that our daughter thinks always she has the best daddy in the world. Otherwise, of course, that my products become heirlooms so that they have a very long product life and make several generations happy.



MOST RECENT PRODUCT I work together with my collaborators right now on more than 15 very exciting projects for several companies, including table systems, chairs, conference chairs, waiting programs etc.

THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR CAREER Living in Amsterdam, I have an endless source of art right around the corner. I have visited Salone del Mobile in Milan in the past and although it can be a little overwhelming, there is so much to see and experience – it is always a very inspiring week for me. My challenge now is always to translate all the inspiration into new ideas.




Bolon MOST RECENT PRODUCT The most recent product I've worked on is Bolon by You, which offers designers and architects the chance to create flooring that truly reflects the requirements of their projects – both aesthetic and functional. Through our web tool, users can select a pattern, play with the two design components, weft and weave, save their designs and create a moodboard which can be used together with the other elements of their project. As its name suggests, Bolon By You is all about you – the person designing. We have created a series of new patterns we believe represent aesthetic variation and by using these, personal results can be achieved. What we hope to create is a situation where architects and designers can realise their visions with Bolon flooring as a dynamic, central design element.' THINGS THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES The thing that gets on my nerves is when people throw away stuff – I love collecting things. THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR CAREER My print teacher at Central Saint Martins was the biggest influence in my career – he made me realise you can go your own way and be successful. WHAT DRIVES YOU Curiosity – I love to explore, experiment and try out new things. I’m stubborn and very driven and can sometimes go the extra mile just to prove people wrong. I love the feeling when you worked with something really hard and you see the results and think, shit, this really works. It’s a very satisfying feeling seeing my visions and ideas come to life and very rewarding.

MIRIAM PÜTTNER Thonet MOST RECENT PRODUCT: Thonet All Seasons THE THING THAT GETS ON YOUR NERVES I am getting on my own nerves, when I try again to escape from making decisions. WHAT DRIVES ME Is it even possible to find the right words for it? I think it's in the nature of human beings to create things and to gain expression – especially for the creative folks. Suddenly there are fleeting thoughts, some ideas in mind you directly want to bring to life.


Whether it is a drawing, an object, a form, a new project... it literally attracts me to try those ideas. And it is a happy feeling when you finally succeeded to transform something imaginary into materiality and it is suddenly real in front of you. That is kind of a magic moment!





SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER STORAGEWALL We’re always striving to boldly go where no man has gone before. And when it comes to space, we know how to maximise space efficiency whilst helping define your environment. Nothing’s alien to us. We’ve seen it all and have fitted storagewalls in all shapes, sizes, colours and finishes. With our in-house team on hand with advice and expertise when it comes to delivering all solutions from beginning to end, we know you’ll be over the moon with the results.




During Clerkenwell Design Week, the Furniture Makers' Company announced the prestigious Design Guild Mark 2016 Awards for British excellence in design.

The Design Guild Mark Awards, now in their 9th year, promote excellence and raise the profile of British design and innovation. They recognise and reward designers working in Britain or British Designers working abroad. The award demands the highest standards in the design of furniture for volume production. The awards’ judging took place at a ‘top secret’ location in west London a few weeks earlier, and we were granted exclusive access to the entire process, chatting with both judges and hopeful product designers alike. Judged by a panel of leading industry professionals, each of the judges is a leading figure from the furniture, hospitality, commercial, retail or media industry, with their job for the day being to ensure that each piece of furniture meets the criteria of excellence in design, use of materials, manufacturing and function. Chaired by Alexander Gifford this year’s eminent judging panel included friends of Mix and former Mixology judges Diana Monkhouse from SpaceInvader and Resonate Interiors’ Pernille Stafford. Alexander Gifford, Chairman of the Design Guild Mark commented: ‘This year the criteria for the Design Guild Mark were curbed to shift emphasis onto volume production and as a result the entries reflected the higher quality of applications we had hoped for. Once again, the entries were equally diverse, from contract to retail, from residential to hospitality and workplace, as were the applicants themselves. Chairing the judging process for the second year was a great honour, and watching the great minds in our industry critique the great output of British design was a real pleasure. Barber & Osgerby for Knoll


Spotlight We totally agree with Alexander, and were delighted to see a much higher percentage of genuine contract products among the impressive entries. With no limit on the number of Design Marks awarded each year, the judges, having listened to a short presentation from the designers themselves, followed by a brief question and answer session, are then able to take each entry purely on its own merits and decide whether it is worthy of recognition. After a full day of presentations and deliberations, the panel awarded a total of 19 Design Guild marks this year, with notable recipients being the Loku Range, designed by Shin Azumi for Case Furniture, the Flow Chair, designed by Tomoko Azumi for Ercol, the Pilot Chair, designed by Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby for Knoll, the Marino Chair and Sofa, designed by Dylan Freeth for Ercol, the Eos Range, designed by Matthew Hilton for Case Furniture, the Hardy Chair, designed by David Irwin for Another Country, the Planks Collection, designed by Max Lamb for Benchmark and the Kyoto Bench System – a particular Mix favourite – designed by Morgan Studio for Morgan.

After a full day of presentations and deliberations, the panel awarded a total of 19 Design Guild marks this year


We were also delighted to see both Hitch Mylius and Mark Gabbertas pick up two Design Guild Marks – Hitch Mylius for Quiet Bench – hm106, designed by Magnus Long, and hm221 Collection, designed by Timothée Mion, while Mark was recognised for the Nuno Chair for Allermuir and the William Dining Chair for Gloster. Another regular in these pages, Simon Pengelly, was awarded the Jonathan Hindle Prize & John Makepeace Prize for his UNNIA Chair for Inclass. Like we mentioned a little earlier, we were given exclusive access to the judging day and were able to snare a designer or three following their presentations. Having endured logistical nightmares way beyond his own control, Mark Gabbertas (quite rightly, as later proved) was in far better spirits this time around. ‘Nuno is a medium density stacker,’ Mark tells us. ‘The interesting thing about it is that the frame and the lamination are structurally interdependent – so one is not strong enough without the other. This allowed me to create a really interesting profile for the chair – and also allowed me to significantly reduce the amount of under-frame you have, both physically and visually. You just don’t have all those pipes underneath and therefore you get a closer stack and it also cleans the whole chair up. It is a really simple chair. ‘The back leg extends up into the lamination, and the lamination is then tapered – for me that is really pretty. It gives you a very pared down result – it doesn’t look like a stacking chair I don’t think. I’m really pleased with it and really hope it works for Allermuir. ‘The Gloster chair is similar in a strange kind of way. It’s not a complicated chair really – apart from the fact that its defining characteristic is that there isn’t any visible fixing from the slats into the frame. Even when you look around Milan nowadays, you’ll see these wooden slat and aluminium frame chairs that are defined by these great big screws that attached every slat into the frame. We spent a lot of time on



Magnus Long for Hitch Mylius

Mark G abbertas for Gloster

this invisible fixing system, whereby you allow the frame to breathe. That’s really important. You actually don’t realise it’s important until someone tells you it is – and that’s a really nice thing. 'it pushes the concept that outdoor furniture has become a much more sophisticated market over the past few years. Gloster have been really pushing this. Outdoor furniture doesn’t need to be these big, solid massive elements – you can now have that much more light, slender, elegant, pared down, economical use of materials for outdoor, if you do it right. This is chair that can be almost occupy an inbetween space – it can go from outdoors to indoors.’ We also caught up with Magnus Long to talk about his Quiet Bench, and began by asking whether he had worked with Hitch Mylius previously. ‘No, this was the first product I’ve worked on for them,’ Magnus reveals. ‘It was originally designed for Central Saint Martins’ library at King’s Cross. It was manufactured as a product to fit that specific space. I then spoke with Hitch Mylius about it – they are one of those great brands that I’ve always wanted to work with. I showed them a few designs – one of which was the Quiet Bench.


Sit pushes the concept that outdoor furniture has become a much more sophisticated market over the past few years. ‘We looked at the way people use bench systems – how they put their bags down to divide territory and mark space. A lot of this product is about simple proportion and scale. It has got quite a hard sit to it – obviously it is not intended for long-term use. ‘We then extended it out from just a simple bench to include a sofa and tables, and have added new materials to it also – so it really is continuing to evolve. It’s not trying to be trendy or fashionable – it’s trying to be timeless, in keeping with the Hitch Mylius brand.’


Cardiff Story Museum

14 July 2016

Sponsored by: 47


Landscape Artist You may recall that, earlier this year, we asked a

number of Stockholm-bound interior designers to pick out their most interesting new products on show at the Furniture Fair. The Stockholm

Furniture Fair is not all about furniture however, and a number of our friends excitedly reported

back about a new carpet collection by renowned British designer Tom Dixon for ege.

Now the collection, Industrial Landscape, has returned to its spiritual home, as it were (more about that a little later), with ege and Tom once again coming together for Clerkenwell Design Week. We were lucky enough to visit ege’s Britton Street showroom to see Tom formally introduce the collection to the UK – and were even more fortunate to be able to sit and chat with the man himself about this exciting collaboration. The starting point, it turns out, is London – the city being a world of inspiration for Tom, who muses that it’s ‘perhaps not the prettiest, nor the most glamorous, but certainly one of the most characterful cities in the world’.

The collection interprets the gritty backdrops of railways, tunnels, factories, workshops and warehouses, with Tom focusing on the surfaces and materials prevalent throughout the city – from concrete paving through to the water of the mighty Thames. ‘ege has collaborated with a number of people before,’ Tom says. ‘When we started to think about designing a carpet collection we realised it was quite difficult because with digital printing you can do anything in principle. We really felt we had to have a subject, and that subject became London – my grimy old London to be more precise. 'You can see the influences – the smoggy, smoky sky, the railway tracks, the bricks



In Short 1981 Before turning his hand to design, Tom spent two years working as a professional musician, playing bass in a disco band. 1987 A doodle of a chicken turned into an idea for a chair, which went through a series of mutations and resulted in the modern classic S-chair. 1992 A shop is set up to provide fresh design in London's Notting Hill. Objects from Droog, Inflate and Michael Young jostle for attention with Tom's first forays into retail and mail order. 1998-2008 Tom gets what he calls ‘a proper day job’ – first as Head of Design, then as Creative Director at Habitat. 2000 Tom is honored with an OBE for services to design. 2002 The Tom Dixon brand is founded in London in partnership with David Begg, and production starts on a line of extruded plastic products. 2013 Tom Dixon Design Research Studio wins its largest interiors project to date with Morgans Hotel Group. The team take on the design of hotel rooms, bar, lobby and restaurant at Sea Containers House in London.



Triumph design, manufacture and deliver quality engineered furniture with reliability and an exceptional level of service. Leading global companies regularly turn to Triumph for innovative, functional and stylish furniture.

Triumph design, manufacture and deliver quality engineered furniture with reliability and an exceptional level of service. Leading global companies regularly turn to Triumph for innovative, functional and stylish furniture.

t 01685 352260 / sales@triumphfurniture.com / www.triumphfurniture.com 50

and all the slightly distressed surfaces, which I find very inspirational. ‘Whereas a lot of cities, such as Paris, Stockholm or Copenhagen, are quite beautiful, London has a real grittiness about it – which I find really appealing. It’s a different kind of beauty. ‘We looked at lots of different types of finishes and textures and surfaces that exist within the city – particularly the kind of mismatched surfaces and the cracked surfaces that you find in the pavements. ‘What you need to know about contract carpet is that, although you can get it in broadloom, where you have one pattern, they also cut the pattern into tiles and shuffle the pack – therefore, each pattern has to not only exist as a single design, but also exist as a random shuffle of the pack. That does make it difficult as a designer to get consistency in the design – but these mismatched surfaces suited the way the carpets are produced perfectly and also provided us with a lot of departure points. We liked being able to show not just the paving stones, for example, but also the broken ones, which show the history of the traffic and the different layers of London. ‘We have created a deconstructed brick pattern, a pattern inspired by the railway lines of London and one that refers to the Thames and the grey muddy water of the river. So, the collection is a series of patterns and textures that come naturally from the building process or the erosion process. ‘Smoke was quite a big inspiration as well. We felt that, given the heavy traffic that contract carpets often get, we could produce something more random and smoky. We quite liked the idea that these designs might be able to work not just on the floor, but also on the walls – something that could provide a great backdrop for living. So not just a flooring surface but a whole environment, where we’re getting quite textural but, from a difference, it really does look like the original inspiration. ‘The inspiration for one of the other designs – Track – came from one of my favourite things about London, which is coming home from abroad and as you fly over the city you see all the marks of the canals and the railway tracks and the roads that crisscross London.’ This wasn’t Tom’s first collaboration with a Scandinavian brand, having worked as Creative Director for Habitat – which is owned by Ikea. ‘That was a process where I learned a lot more about communication, about managing design, about creative direction, rather than design itself. It was a very exciting adventure. I leapt from being a producer of my own goods to working for the biggest furniture company in the world.’

Smoke was quite a big inspiration as well. We felt that, given the heavy traffic that contract carpets often get, we could produce something more random and smoky


Profile Tom worked with Habitat for 12 years before starting his own eponymous brand in 2002 – which has of course been incredibly successful right around the world and has helped elevate the man himself to design superstar status. Today his works are included in permanent collections of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the V&A and the MoMA, while high profile projects include the Restaurant at The Royal Academy in London, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Barbecoa and Shoreditch House. Recently Tom’s Design Research Studio completed their first ever hotel project, redesigning the iconic Thamesside Mondrian Sea Containers here in London. Infamously self-taught, Tom also received an OBE for services to British Design in 2001. ‘It was really through that process of working in interior design that we felt it might be time to start collaborating with people,’ Tom reveals. ‘One of the big problems in contemporary projects is sound absorption, so carpets become more and more important in those kind of spaces. We’ve been interested in carpets not only as a floor finish but also as a technical finish for absorbing sound for a number of years now – and also as a way of bringing an awful lot of colour into a space. ‘I am obviously very interested in the materiality, and the carpet in itself is an extraordinary thing when you see the tufting process and the selection of the yarn. But I am interested beyond the material and the kind of impact it has on the architectural perspectives. Colour is a very powerful thing, as is pattern, particularly when you use it in large expanses as you do with a contract carpet.’

One of the big problems in contemporary projects is sound absorption


Going back to the beginning, we ask Tom about the origins of the collaboration with ege. ‘They’ve been asking me for years!’ he smiles. ‘They’ve worked with a number of designers and like having that different point of view. It’s all about timing and the reason we said yes is mainly because we’ve started to have much more contact with hotels and the likes, and have started to consider issues such as acoustics a lot more – and also, well, the specification of contract carpet. We started buying and specifying carpet and when you do start specifying the stuff you start to get an understanding of what is and what’s not available. ‘We started to talk about the possibilities and then we decided to go over to the factory – which is actually phenomenally impressive. I think you can tell a lot about a business by its manufacturing.’ So what were the greatest challenges when approaching the collection? ‘It’s not an easy typology,’ Tom considers. ‘I think the idea of cutting a design up and not being able to reconstruct the pattern is a really difficult design challenge. We came at it from a slightly different angle, I think, in that we were not just considering the floor, but were always thinking about the entire environment. We were thinking about the acoustics as much as the decoration, for example. ‘I have to say, we learnt an awful lot from the project.’

Photography Oliver Perrott










Vanessa Van Overmeeren, modulyss At the last count we have featured no fewer than 37

product designers in this month’s issue. We hope you have found it an interesting read. But there is more.

Vanessa Van Overmeeren may not be a name you are

instantly familiar with, but we think that will change.

Vanessa is Head of Product Development at the Belgian carpet tile manufacturer modulyss – and much more.

If you finish this piece and get the impression Vanessa understands the nuts and bolts of design, you will be right. Inspired by both her father and grandfather, who were both employed in the carpet industry, Vanessa was educated at the Hogeschool, Ghent, where she studied industrial engineering, textiles and chemistry between 1997 and 2001. Qualifying as a textile engineer, Vanessa’s first job was as a technical/process engineer with a passion for design and colour, which perfectly aligned with a period of engineering manufacturing advances. In a world where

technology pervades every part of our life, it is not surprising that designers like Vanessa are using manufacturing methods to take their designs to a different level, creating products that would have been inconceivable 10 years ago. Vanessa tells us that she is ‘inspired by the everyday life, nature, the street scenes, in short, a large spectrum of sources. All you have to do is look around’. However, she also keeps her engineering feet firmly on the ground, taking influence from advances in other sectors, such as the car industry.


Tell us about a typical day • Discuss different topics with the R&D team • Working out concepts: idea, yarn, colour, design and how to translate it technically • Meeting with yarn suppliers • Follow-up on developments that are in process • Actively be present when samples are made in production • Meeting with sales, offering sales support


In Short 2001 Graduates from Hogeschool Ghent as textile engineer 2011 Joins the Balta Group as Technical Developer of Rugs 2014 Joins modulyss Mother of 2 Hobbies Running & yoga Like any good business modulyss is looking to stay ahead of the competition and, like other industries, the key is to keep the customer happy. We hear time and again that lead times are a key part of the buying process. Vanessa is clearly proud of the team’s in-house knowledge and technological prowess, which allows them to act faster and to respond to client needs using in-house technology, notably yarns, tuft & ChromoJET printing Vanessa has real clarity about where modulyss fits in the carpet title market. ‘The company has more than 25 years' experience in the carpet tile business yet, having just turned six years old, modulyss has a young, dynamic and driven team that gives us a really youthful and effervescent energy. As part of Europe's largest carpet manufacturer, Balta Group, modulyss has the benefit of being flexible to move according to market conditions but having the support of the parent company. Asked about trends, Vanessa responds in the manner you would expect from a design/ engineer. Accordingly Vanessa suggests that the biggest changes include the acceptance of carpet tile’s strength and the modularity nature of the product, the infinite design and colour customisation – but she warns that design has to be balanced by constant innovation in functionality and performance in combination with sustainability and all while ensuring a competitive price.

modulyss has become a challenger to the established giants, with our own clear sense of identity

Clearly the end result of any manufacturer is to sell their products to the right audience at the right margin. A&D are a key target market for modulyss. ‘I think it’s important that we separate ourselves from other manufacturers,’ Vanessa considers. ‘modulyss has become a challenger to the established giants, with our own clear sense of identity. modulyss also has the ability to make our entire standard collection ready to ship, rather than making to order. However, we are now really stretching our legs in our current crop of designs and this is something that will help us create clear space as a leader in design rather than a follower.’ So what can we expect from Vanessa and her team in the future? ‘Technically speaking, we are pushing towards a combination of creativity, functionality and sustainability throughout our new products, responding


Inspiration Interior design & fashion

to the demand of transparency and better articulation from the A&D community. We are also investing in new manufacturing technology that will open up fresh design possibilities and are already implementing an ultra-sonic cutting machine that will help us to double capacity.’ So along with Tin Tin, Eddy Merckx, Audrey Hepburn and Vincent Kompany, we have a new famous Belgium to add to our list.


Keyn and Able You might think we’re making quite a big deal

of the introduction of Keyn Chair Group – and

you’d be right. Why wouldn’t we? We come from a background where major Miller chair launches were always a big deal. Think Aeron, Mirra, Embody and Sayl. Need we say more?

The Keyn Chair Group is a range of meeting and side chairs, offering responsive movement and immediate comfort for collaborative spaces. The design, by London firm forpeople (see Mix May for the profile), uses four key parts to create every model in the group, so each retains the same visual appeal. For extra comfort, Keyn’s CradleFlex movement responds to shifts in posture, reclining up to 10 degrees. Herman Miller and forpeople clearly see things much the same way: both companies are driven by a continuous search for new perspectives and insights, brought to life through great design, cutting-edge


engineering and responsible manufacturing. So when Herman Miller asked forpeople to design a new group of meeting chairs, they knew the fit would be right. ‘The Keyn Chair Group brings together the peoplefirst approach of both firms to create chairs that users don’t need to think about because Herman Miller and forpeople already have,’ Richard Stevens, founder and Creative Director of forpeople, tells us. ‘All forpeople’s work – design for products, services, experiences – starts with how people feel, think, and do. And it ends with improving people’s lives – because if design isn’t for people, what’s it for?’


In Short Herman Miller

Keyn’s patented CradleFlex movement responds as you shift your position. It effortlessly reclines up to 10 degrees, whilst simultaneously allowing the seat to move forward. Each of the Keyn Chair Group variants has the same CradleFlex movement. It supports changes in posture, so the user remains comfortable and therefore focused. Stephen Perkins, Herman Miller’s Vice President, International Research, Design and Development explains: ‘From our research, we know that people move around on average of 53 times an hour when seated. Chairs in meeting rooms tend to be inflexible, meaning a user’s natural movement isn’t encouraged or supported. This results in people being less engaged in the meeting as they become more uncomfortable. The Keyn Chair Group is designed to respond to a user’s movement, supporting their body as they move in their seat.’ A key consideration of forpeople’s design approach was to ensure that each variation of the chair has the same visual appeal. To achieve this, they created a design based on four key parts: the base, the cradle, the seat shell and a choice of fabric or leather upholstery options. The chair’s detailed

1905 Company founded as Star Furniture Company in Zeeland, Michigan. 1923 D. J. De Pree and his father-in-law, Herman Miller, lead a buyout of Michigan Star Furniture, which is renamed Herman Miller Furniture Company. 1942 Herman Miller enters the office furniture sector through the Gilbert Rohde-designed Executive Office Group. 1946 Eames' collaboration with Herman Miller begins. 1964 Revolutionary Action Office System is introduced. 1994 Herman Miller introduces the Aeron chair. 2016 Herman miller forms strategic alliance with Naughtone



pattern not only contributes to its lightweight aesthetic but also provides ventilation to help you stay cool. By changing the base, finish and upholstery, the Keyn Chair Group can be tailored for use in a café, meeting room, workshop space or boardroom. Vitally, whatever the model, every chair retains the same immediate comfort and responsive movement. The almost limitless number of combinations ensures Keyn complements Herman Miller’s existing seating, from Studio 7.5’s Mirra 2 through to Stumpf and Chadwick’s iconic Aeron. ‘The challenge that we were given was to create a family group of collaborative chairs that are offered in a four-leg, cantilever and pedestal base, all with or without the option of arms,’ Richard recalls, ‘and they all had to be uncompromisingly desirable as individual chairs but they all had to look like a group. To start with we thought ‘That can’t be that difficult!’ and then we looked and saw that no other company had done this. ‘We were given the opportunity to explore this – and to be honest I don’t think they (Herman Miller) thought that we could answer it. But we thought ‘Right, that’s a real challenge!’ It sounds really simple, but it’s actually really complicated and it did take us a long time to come up with the right solution.

‘On top of all that, Herman Miller also wanted us to design a Kinematic postural movement for the chair, which would facilitate wellbeing. ‘We then started with loads of concepts – we went from around 10 down to three, then down two and finally those two concepts fused into one. This final concept was based around the idea of having a shell, suspended in a cradle and that cradle facilitates movement but also allows you to launch any base off it and also allows you to add arms. ‘There were lots and lots of prototypes and around 12 months into the process we felt that we really had something. 'When we first presented the idea of just four component parts, we could tell that Herman Miller felt we really did have something interesting.' ‘We realised we had a family that all look the same, with shared componentry, so you invest effort and money in the tooling of beautiful parts. You have multiple benefits out of that shared componentry; they look the same, the quality goes up but the price stays down. ‘One of our biggest inspirations was seeing the Aeron assembly line at the GreenHouse. Every 19 seconds an Aeron runs off the assembly line – that’s 20 years of evolution!


When we saw that assembly line we thought ‘That’s how we’re going to build this chair!’ ‘From our experience in other sectors, we know that this is all about engineering out what you don’t need and engineering in a bit of smartness to the process. I think we’ve achieved that here. ‘Once we reached this point, we starting exploring how far we could go – how broad a vocabulary can you deliver with these four component parts? ’ When approaching the design of the Group, forpeople were determined to offer visual continuity combined with unprecedented versatility. As Richard said, to achieve this, they developed a modular system of only four key parts. With pad configurations ranging from a simple seat pad to a fully upholstered shell, and three base styles, Keyn’s universally elegant aesthetic can be used to outfit any space, from casual to formal. ‘One of the things that people have been quite surprised about is just how chameleon-like the chair is,’ Richard enthuses. ‘You can create very different looks and feels within the one family.’

The essence of Timeless Design.



T. 01235 554848 E. service-uk@desso.com www.desso.co.uk



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The Keyn Chair Group’s three base styles include a four-leg, cantilever and four-star base, with a painted, trivalent chrome, or polished aluminium finish. The seat shell is available in graphite, studio white, or black. A choice of five reverse contrast colours can be specified independently on semi- and fullyupholstered chairs. With these options, plus an almost infinite range of colour, material and finish choices, the Keyn Chair Group offers versatility with a consistent aesthetic, united with responsive comfort, to meet the needs of any workplace. Forpeople was founded in 2004 and the key to its philosophy is contained in its name; a firm belief that design is not an abstract, theoretical exercise but has to be first and foremost for the people who use it. The firm’s impressive client list includes British Airways, The Boeing Company, BMWi, Coca-Cola, Panasonic and Yamaha. The development of the Keyn Chair Group is forpeople’s first step into the office furniture market. ‘We are incredibly proud to be working with Herman Miller,’ Richard tells us. ‘Becoming part of their extraordinary team, and joining such an outstanding design heritage, is precisely the reason we started forpeople back in 2004.’


Case Study

Essentials Client CMS Interior Design MCM Main Contractor ISG Project Manager/QS G&T MEP Chapman BDSP IT/AV CBI Acoustics AAD Furniture Modus, Ergonom, Vitra, Walter Knoll, Humanscale

Second Law of Attraction You may recall that, back in April, we brought you the story of the amazing new

Cannon Street home of leading law firm CMS. We said at the time that, despite going way over our own word count, there was far, far more to say – namely that we’d concentrated solely on the client-facing first floor space, and hadn’t even headed upstairs to the equally innovative second and third floors. Well, we’re now going to put that right.


Case Study

When we say upstairs, we mean upstairs, as the design and the placement of the signature staircases are a perfect place to begin the second part of our tour of the CMS space. Despite being spread out over three large floors the office space has been brought together with the clever use of modern staircases from EeStairs. Rather than being enclosed in a stairwell, the staircases are as much of a feature of the office as the chairs and tables, positioned in plain sight and surrounded by a TransParancy glass balustrade for uninterrupted views of the interior. In contrast to the furniture, walls and floors, which are for the most part finished


in modern block colours, ranging from muted greys to striking orange, the staircases have been constructed from steel and finished with timber treads, adding a natural element to the interior. The gentle rise of the straight staircases makes them appear longer and extremely inviting to walk up and down. The combination of straight flights of stairs and plateau areas add to the sense that the stairs wrap around the wall that they are positioned against. In keeping with the way that CMS has embraced modern technology and working practices, the staircases have been fitted with LED lighting that trace the edges of each staircase. The light appears to flow

Case Study

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Case Study

from the top to the bottom of the staircases and reflects the brief to create a mobile workspace. ‘Staircases are often overlooked as a necessary element of a building rather than an aspect of interior architecture that can reinforce a company’s ethos or values. We wanted to create something extraordinary that would add to the experience of staff and clients and found the ideal partner in EeStairs,’ MCM Managing Director Jon Race explains. Whilst we were guided through the client suite by KKS’ Katrina Kostic Samen, the CMS space here is very much a design collaboration, with MCM responsible for taking the brief, developing the workplace strategy and the design of the majority of the spaces. KKS were responsible for the visitor experience, from the entrance through to the meeting room space, the sector hubs, the artwork, soft furnishings and general dressing of the spaces on level 1. ‘We integrated all the technical design and did the design for everything else in the building – including the restaurant, the working floors, the client meeting rooms…our respective teams worked together very closely to mesh to the two parts together.’ Jon adds ‘We worked very well together – we’ve known each other for a long time and we’re chums in the industry,’ We ask Jon to tell us a bit more about the process itself. ‘We started working with CMS about five years ago, looking at their potential relocation. We looked at various buildings and we looked at the metrics of their business – so if you cut it one way it was this size and if you cut it another way it was that size. We had previously delivered some really new and cutting edge legal workplaces in London, taking nervous clients on rapid change journeys to embrace new workplace strategies and it was this previous experience which sparked CMS’s imagination. So from the outset we started looking at alternative working strategies and more radical ways of occupying space that would enable true agility and could lead to possible future of desk sharing (although that has not been adopted from day one). We also started looking at alternative client experiences at an early stage: traditionally with legal firms you get this layer cake – you find glossy client space which is typically quite separate from the working floors and rarely do you see into the mechanics of the whole organization.

‘One of the big advantages of Cannon Place which was eventually settled on, was that the floorplates were huge and the atrium allowed significant visibility through to the floor plates. The sheer scale meant that you could start to really look at unconventional ways of laying out space to support a different sort of working model. To reinforce visibility and to introduce direct connectivity we added the staircases as a conscious transversal link between the working floors and the client space – really breakdown the conventional layout of legal offices where client and working spaces are so often separated. To heighten the sense of fluid transition through all spaces there is no visible security between the base build reception and the reception at CMS. ‘On the fee earning floors the key criteria for the space was that it had to be a form of open plan to allow maximum flexibility over time but, principally to facilitate both team and cross sector collaboration. Quite early on we had a conversation about how they could mix the groups up into sector expertise rather than by practice groups – so the space would have to be very fluid and conducive to people being able to talk to one another, whilst at the same time being mindful of the fact that legal work can often be fairly solitary and private. ‘The space also need to be able to support agility over time to provide alternative places for different types of work. To support agility each floor has a wide variety of shared cellular spaces ranging from video conferencing and quiet rooms, to project and team rooms, breakout and informal meeting space as well


Smart breakout areas are dotted around the space, and are furnished with soft seating from Marelli, Boss Design and Lyndon...

Case Study as all the practical standard stuff like copy and tea points. Each space was conceived to support the different requirement, pace and rhythm of the work it is intended for and furnished accordingly – some spaces are for standing or informal meetings and others are more conventional and formal. In addition, some spaces are booked centrally whilst others are free to access on demand.’ Jon tells us that the integration of the right technology was also critical here. ‘The next piece of the jigsaw was to provide the right tools to enable the space to really work,’ he confirms. ‘CMS engaged with Microsoft to talk about the implementation of Surface Pro tablets for the fee earners – so the fee earners now work off Surface Pro tablets. The bandwidth of the WiFi is truly capable of enabling people to work unplugged – so they can genuinely move their stuff from one space to another. The telephony solutions are through Windows phones rather than landlines. It’s a fairly big leap – but technology

With such a large number of people to provide for, it was essential to get the desking right.


moves all the time and each time we’ve helped legal clients embrace a big change in their workspace, they’ve been right at the cutting edge and CMS are not an exception. ‘Tablet PC’s with the ability for manuscript drafting on screen is pretty advanced stuff, for example, but absolutely the sort of advancement that CMS wanted to embrace.’ We ask about document confidentiality, privacy and security. ‘That was absolutely sacrosanct,’ Jon explains. ‘Whether digital or paper. The reality is that the courts still require a certain amount of paper and we had to be aware of that provision right from the start. ‘Additionally, as this is a multi-tenanted building, you don’t want people to be able to see sensitive information from the floors above, so whilst you can clearly see into the heart of the practice, all of the desking areas are towards the perimeter of the building, there is no way you can see or read anything. We had to be very careful to provide visible security, whilst also making the space as open and as flexible as possible.’

Case Study

ARTISTIC LIBERTIES Stylised interpretation historically clashes with artistic liberties. Traditional references lead to twisted timelines. Spray-can embroidery stitches together ornate compositions with post punk influences. Timely or timeless, traditional designs are reinterpreted and colour clashes reinvented to change opinion ARTISTIC LIBERTIES—a new collection of five modular carpet designs, all featuring ECONYL 100% regenerated fibre and available on 10 day service.

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Case Study

Counting Stars While navigating the throng of tourists at London

Bridge, on our way to see Fourfront Group’s new home in the Counting House, we did a little bit of counting

of our own. We’re pretty certain that this will be the fifth Fourfront/Area Sq office we’ve visited (including both Surrey and London).

We can’t recall visiting more offices of any other firm. That means two things – firstly, we’ve known one another a long time now, and secondly, this is still a firm very much on the up. Literally up in the case of the new Counting House space! Indeed, the leading UK commercial interior specialist has recently relocated to a new state-of-the-art open-plan office on the 10,500 sq ft fifth floor of the Counting House – situated within the Hays Galleria – to accommodate substantial business expansion. The Group’s Area Sq worked closely with its sister companies (furniture experts) Sketch and (workplace consultancy) 360 to design what it describes as ‘the ultimate workplace experience’.

To help inform the design brief, 360’s Head of Workplace Consultancy, Leeson Medhurst, first investigated how Fourfront operates as a business. ‘Workplace design has a huge impact on the way people work,’ Leeson tells us. ‘When we worked from Newman Street we wanted to introduce all those things that we talk about with our clients. We didn’t do this at Newman Street, but we really wanted to go on that journey ourselves. ‘It’s never a one-size-fits-all workplace solution; we firstly need to understand the culture, the business and its objectives before designing a suitable environment. Following a comprehensive consultancy process, which included workplace analysis and regular steering group meetings, we concluded that


Case Study

Essentials Client Fourfront Group Interior Design Area Sq Workplace Consultancy 360 Furniture Supply Sketch Furniture Wilkhahn, Humanscale, KI, K+N, Orangebox, Wiesner Hager, Brunner, Walter Knoll, Scandinavian Business Seating, Boss Design, Benchmark, Knoll Studio, Naughtone, Vitra


Case Study

Essentials Client Jupiter Asset Management Founded 1985 Founder John Duffield Net Income £132.1m (2015) Interior Design HLW International Sit/Stand Systems Furniture Assmann Task Seating Humanscale Woven Vinyl Flooring Bolon

Panel End

Hoop Leg

Dining Height

Poseur Height

Planet Suite We’ve weaved our way through the billboards and diversions that mark Victoria Station’s major refurbishment, and now find ourselves out in the bright sunshine, taking in the already transformed Victoria Street. We walk past cool bistros, bars and shopfronts – 01204 364602 this is definitely an area ‘on Tel: the up’. Fax: 01204 381509

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imperial Office


Case Study we are a highly fluid organisation, needing only a nominal amount of anchored desk positions, but requiring a high number of flexible working and meeting opportunities, which encourage a transient style of working that embraces employee empowerment, collaboration and freedom of movement. ‘We always talk about a four-stage process – the art of the possible, the discovery stage, co-creation and implementation. So we started by looking at what is possible here. We wanted to create an environment that would act a as showcase – a showroom – for everything that we do. In term of discovery, we wanted to try to find out how much space we could truly use or we could optimize to get the maximum use out of it – so we had to take an inward look at ourselves. The space reflects the four brands working within it as well as ‘The Fourfront Way’ – the set of values that Fourfront Group upholds. The central avenue running through the core of the space includes branded podiums, which represent the four companies, while wall graphics display Fourfront’s values, encapsulating the Group’s ‘Stronger Together’ message. Harnessing the Group’s unique culture and family feel, the space encourages people to interact, work together and to have fun. Now we’ve seen many a workspace where ‘fun’ and ‘interaction’ are promoted, but here we can clearly see that the Group is genuinely putting its money where its mouth is, with a third of the entire floorplate being given for the dining and socialising area – The Larder.

Fourfronters are banned from eating ‘aldesco’ to encourage this social interaction. Not that you’d want to be eating at your desk once you’ve seen The Larder. With what looks like a full-scale Table Tennis tournament in full swing (the table can also be transformed into a pool table), we’re presented with coffee out of tap, via an iPad and take a seat in a cool booth to enjoy said coffee. We could definitely get used to this. ‘Our model is built on good relationships, and our people are at the heart of this,’ Dan Callegari, Area Sq’s Design Director, comments. ‘It was therefore imperative that we provided an inspiring environment, which not only supports staff wellbeing, but also epitomises the very latest in workplace design.’ From what we’ve already seen, you can tick both those boxes. The dynamic environment provides staff and clients alike with a range of agile working environments. Counting House can host 160 people at any one time and consists of collaborative, concentrative and communicative zones. ‘When we did the analysis we discovered that we were actually far more agile than we thought,’ Leeson reveals. ‘Facilitating this, the environment is 95% agile, so the space offers a diverse range of working platforms. If we really want to maximize the space we actually have 210 places that people can work at – so we’ve really maximized the space.’

Our model is built on good relationships, and our people are at the heart of this These work setting include 82 desks, 92% of which are agile; a 6-8 person open meeting hub in the main lobby; a 10-12 person boardroom; a client experience suite; several breakout areas; sit/stand podiums and desks; private booths; project space; and individual and communal work areas. ‘We have desk anchors – these are our designers – so we had to create static positions for this but everything else is agile,’ Leeson explains. Since serendipitous moments can spark creativity, the space also encourages impromptu meetings. The furniture is provided by Sketch, of course, and complements the need for unplanned conversations – cushions line the perimeter of the space, for example, to encourage those key impromptu conversations. A key objective here was to break down traditional boundaries that are often designed into a space and only in fact serve to block communication. To overcome this, there are intentionally only four doors across the entire floorplate – one of which is into a comms room! ‘Anything and everything else,

Case Study be it a sliding panel or applied geometry, is therefore affectionately referred to as an opportunity or a moment – taking only a moment to open and remaining that way for the rest of the day,’ Leeson reveals. ‘Each opportunity becomes an aperture to allow freedom of movement around the space. As such, these merely suggest the activity beyond has a unique quality and set of needs but not restricted to or defined by the closing of a door. ‘As a visitor, we also wanted you to be able to exit the elevators and immediately be immersed into the space.’ Furthermore, the space challenges the status quo of privacy. ‘As a business, we believe that people work better together,’ Leeson continues, ‘throughout the design process we debated how many conversations are so private that they need to take place behind closed doors; our answer is, not many. We value open communication, and the space caters for semi-private conversations with the addition of acoustically-sound pods, but if a conversation is deemed ‘confidential’, it can take place in the boardroom or offsite.’ Situated throughout the space, the pods not only provide informal meeting space, they also explore the relationship between people and nature. Incorporating organic, biophilic and biomimetic design concepts, they almost float throughout the space. ‘We call this ‘disruptive innovation’ because these work zones intentionally break up the staticity of the open space,’ describes Dan. ‘By its very essence, biophilic design is organic and fluid in nature – our new office embraces this concept, as does our work model.’ Dan, who we know through his invaluable contributions to our Round Table debates, was clearly delighted to work on the project. ‘This has been a fantastic opportunity to push what I believe is the future of office space,’ he enthuses. ‘There’s an element of apprehension when your colleagues are your clients but it’s been an exciting and enjoyable journey nonetheless; one which has allowed my design team to drive a work community in line with our values, culture and brand identities. Thanks to a fantastic team effort between the Fourfront companies, our new Group office reflects the fact that we really are experts at what we do.’


Javelin Bench System

On reaching our destination – the Zigzag Building – we take a moment to look both at the contemporary architecture and the new street level amenities, which include Jamie’s and Iberica. Like we said, on the up. We’re here to visit the first tenants of the new building – Jupiter Asset Management. HLW has created vibrant new workspace The Javelin bench desking system is a stylish, comprehensive andaflexible solution for today’s IT dependent office environments. for the business that offers a new It’s a cost efficient bench, designed to adapt easily toBritish the ever changing needs of any business. It has a height settable frame contemporary to this traditionally and sliding tops allowing access to the large cable tray foraesthetic quick and easy cable management. A full range of pedestals and conservative sector. storage units are available to complement this range. Jupiter is an established fund management group that seeks to add value for their clients through the delivery of outperformance over the medium to long term. Its origins go back to 1985 as a specialist investment boutique founded in London. Since then it has expanded beyond the UK as retail and institutional investors have been attracted to its active approach to asset management. The highly successful group moved from a tired office space in Hyde Park Corner to become the first tenants of this new BREEAM Excellent rated building earlier this year. The new home has been designed to reflect an evolution of the Jupiter brand and status as market leaders, utilising the 56,000 sq ft space to increase collaboration and interaction among its 430 staff.

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Clerkenwell Design Week does exactly what it says on the tin. Apart from the fact that it doesn’t run for a week. And there’s no tin! Design, however, is at the forefront of everything that is good about those glorious three days in May.


Furthermore, Clerkenwell Design Week is in Clerkenwell. Bare with us here. When we say it is in Clerkenwell, what we mean is that it is purely in Clerkenwell – not in Islington, King’s Cross and Holborn. That means it is easy to navigate – and that is hugely important to both visitors and participants. What everyone wants from every festival or exhibition is to be able to get around easily (unlike Milan!) but not be done within an hour (unlike a lot of now defunct events once held in antiquated, unsuitable spaces). CDW now has a nice problem. It is too big in many ways. We know from our own experiences that it is nigh on impossible to see everything and everyone you want to – and that’s if you try to work it hard for the full three days.



But that’s ok. Like we’ve already mentioned, Milan is way too big and sprawling for anyone to see everything, yet strangely we don’t tend to hear so much about that. Visitors to the Salone know they have to be selective and, like it or loathe it, the success of CDW now means it is very much in this category.

Another area in which CDW now competes with Milan is on the party front. We know that this market is incredibly convivial and not shy of letting its hair down once in a while. This year, more than ever, we heard people using phrases such as ‘I get to meet the people I really want to see in the evenings’. There are reasons for this; people are, thankfully, still incredibly busy and have a day job to attend to, therefore they can only afford to visit out of those traditional office hours. And those people needn’t have worried, as they were more than well catered for over the three evenings of CDW. We’re not sure how productive they’d have been come the morning though.





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We were buoyed by the fact that a number of leading design firms did, despite the relentless workloads, encourage their design teams to get out and enjoy CDW. Again, this is crucial to the success and the longevity of the event. If participants can see that the right quality of visitor is walking through their doors (or onto their stands) they will continue to support. Furthermore, it was so so good to see a number of designers bring their clients along with them for a taste of the festivities – that is exactly how CDW should be and should work, in our humble opinion. Everyone, from manufacturers and dealers, through to designers and end users all coming together to celebrate what is an amazing industry. A touch trite? We don’t care – we mean it.

This generous hospitality comes largely from the established showrooms, of course. As we’ve said before, we believe these are the real heart of the festival. Without the support of these leading manufacturers, you certainly wouldn’t see key visitors in such high numbers. So well done all. We’re aware that we’ve been sounding unusually serious throughout this review – and that’s really in keeping with CDW itself. There really are two sides to the event, with the seminars, discussions and product launches mixing with the fun activities, the parties and the hospitality.




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Review So what were our own CDW 2016 highlights? Well, as our Editor said in his opening column, it was fantastic to see so many major product launches. As you might have guessed, we particularly like Herman Miller’s Keyn Chair Group, designed by Forpeople. We liked the fact that Herman Miller was involved full stop. We were equally impressed by Orangebox’s smart new Coda collection of chairs, stools and tables and by Boss Design’s innovative Trinetic task and visitor chair.

Without wishing to sound like a broken record, these major product launches are so important to CDW. There are always businesses that go above and beyond for CDW and special mentions must go to Scandinavian Business Seating, who partnered with architects russ+henshaw to create a dynamic, temporary installation named ‘Agora on the Green’. Situated on Clerkenwell Green, the installation transformed the space into a modern agora, reminiscent of the public square’s rich and colourful past.


Review Just around the corner, our friends at Bisley let their hair down with a highly unusual installation in St John’s Square. With the artistic guidance of creative collective Acrylicize, Bisley’s famous Multidrawer cabinets where transformed into Workflow, the most organised fountain in town. In an initiative on behalf of the Make A Wish Foundation, visitors to the Workflow installation were invited to make a design related wish. Heading across the road, we found the amazing HakFolly - a collaboration between Hakwood and FleaFolly Architects'. The pair created a striking monastic structural installation at the historic St John's Gate.

Opposite, Ultrafabrics rolled into town in style with the Ultrafabrics Takumi Gallery, highlighting their special American/Japanese relationship and showcasing the latest collections of high performance, tactile upholstery fabrics. The mobile gallery enticed festival visitors in its St John’s Square residency, not least as it was housed in one of the most iconic pieces of 20th century American design – an Airstream caravan.



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We even found a bit of time to wander away from the heart of Clerkenwell to take a look at two of the new CDW venues for 2016. We liked the House of Culture – our Ed was honest enough to admit that it was the first time he’d ever been into Fabric sober! We thought it had a real Designjunction feel to it. We also venture into the Design Fields, just across from the busy Clerkenwell Green (well it does have three pubs on it). As well as catching up with our mates from Yorkshire, Knightsbridge Furniture, we were delighted to see our Bostonian friends from IdeaPaint – who have some really neat concepts heading to NeoCon and, later in the year, Orgatec.

As you walk the streets of Clerkenwell throughout the three days and bump into friends, there is one question that arises more than any other – where are you going tonight? Let’s not beat around the bush, the parties play a huge part in making CDW what it is, and we’re incredibly grateful for that. Tuesday saw us enjoying the fantastic hospitality from Interstuhl, Davison Highley, Bene and Knoll.



On Wednesday we donned our new designer flat caps (no joke!), courtesy of Knightsbridge Furniture, and downed a few specially brewed Yorkshire ales before stopping by at Vitra and Milliken and then finally heading onto the infamous Kusch party. On Thursday we made it to Orangebox for Pimm’s o’clock, lined our stomachs with amazing barbecue food at The Gallery and beautiful Italian cheese and ham at Bolon, before making our way over to first Hansgrohe and then Boss Design. To close the week, we had to divide and conquer for the two big off-site parties hosted by US giants Interface and Humanscale – the latter’s incredible bash at St Luke’s attracting an estimated 600 guests. Tough job, but someone’s got to do it! Clerk might not be unwell, but the majority of the industry weren’t feeling too chipper on Friday morning. Whoever said CDW should run for the entire week is clearly a day-tripper.



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Like most regions we have covered in the past 12 months, the North East has its knockers (a person or group who continually find fault, that is!).

REGIONAL REVIEW: NORTH EAST As successive Governments aimed to shore up the North East region, more and more public sector jobs ended up north of the River Tees, but just like other regions, most notably Northern Ireland, the region suffered post-2008 as public sector cuts made a massive impact on jobs, tax collection and general wellbeing. With three conurbations (Teesside, Wearside, and Tyneside) and three cities (Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland and Durham), the region’s plight is best illustrated by the decimation of its coal production and ship building sectors, which have been in steady decline since WWII. However, like most regions, there is hope. The trend across the UK appears to be that each region accepts that it has to offer something different and following is no long either attractive nor sustainable. The NE has one of the most diverse landscapes in England and for many who

enjoy the outdoors this pull of a balanced life is very appealing. It is no surprise then that the inward investment body responsible for appealing to ‘outsiders’ puts ‘Quality of Life’ as its first tab on its website. The NE does not have a good reputation for paying well and, added to that, a recent TUC study suggested that the number of people working excessive hours in the North East has risen by 10% since 2010. However, to counter that and support the idea that for many the NE really is a great place to live, Randstad, the global recruitment firm, suggested that, regardless of their relatively poor pay compared to other regions, the NE is one of the most satisfied with their work-life balance What’s new? Planning consultancy DPP and architects FaulknerBrowns have submitted plans to create


Newcastle’s first private rented sector (PRS) skyscraper. On behalf of Surrey property outfit Stonegate Developments, the 26-storey building is set to create more than 380 jobs and over £40m in inward investment. Those familiar with the area will be aware that localised regeneration is going ahead apace along with the Science Central (urban regeneration partnership between Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council) and Downing Plaza (on the site of the former Newcastle and Brown Brewery, led by the mercurial pair of George Downing of Downing developments and Ian Simpson of SimpsonHaugh and Partners). The Stonegate Developments' residential housing tower is one of 10 proposed over 30m high within the Rutherford Street area. Some estimates put the PRS at around 18% across the UK with Carter Jonas recently suggesting that




Median Age mid-2012

Regional profile of the North East


Newcastle Upon Tyne

41.5 37.6 34.0

North East

Northern Ireland





Durham Middlesbrough

Prime office rents as of Sept 2015

Total population growth 2011 to 2012 1.3%


ÂŁ/sq ft















Population density mid-2012 (People per sq km) 5285




England & Wales


North East




England & Wales

North East

forecasts are more likely to be a third by 2032. Good news for developers in the North East as the model for housing changes from Thatcherite dream of home ownership to one more akin to the German model – yet another clue to how things will go on the 23rd of June? We are not suggesting that FaulknerBrowns are the only firm with a full order book but we were fortunate enough to catch up with the man, who in the North East, is better known than Mike Ashley, Steve Cram and Ross Noble put together – in our world anyway. Steve Dickson from FaulknerBrowns had time to update us on one of the many projects the firm is involved with at the moment.


The North East has a strong tendency to vote Labour. In the 2015 election, 47% of the electorate voted Labour, while 25% voted Conservative, 17% UKIP, 6% Liberal Democrat and 4% Green. Due to be opened in the late autumn, The Word – the National Centre for the Written Word – represents a paradigm shift in public informatics buildings. ‘The ambition set by South Tyneside Council is to deliver a solution which is more than just a modern library, the solution here is to provide a series of creative studios, exhibition spaces, library environments and performance spaces that promote community creativity and delivers ownership for its customers. From day one this ‘landmark’ project has sought to achieve the highest of standards, both in design and construction, but more importantly it provides a catalyst for the town, the region and beyond. Exciting times lie ahead for The Word.’

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Mix Interiors 165










Heckmondwike FB Interior designers and specifiers are set to be inspired by an exciting new fibre bonded carpet range that has been released by Heckmondwike FB. The Constellation range takes its inspiration from the latest, most vibrant and exciting colour trends in furniture, with a comprehensive choice of eight shades to choose from which provide endless scope for use in office, leisure and educational environments. The range has a contemporary appearance, allowing for eye-catching designs to be created in the floor space. www.heckmondwike-fb.co.uk

Forbo Forbo Flooring Systems’ design-led luxury vinyl tiles and safety flooring has contributed to the Japanese aesthetic at Leicester’s newly refurbished restaurant YO! Sushi, whilst providing the slip resistance required for a busy restaurant. Forbo’s Surestep Wood range has clear, sharp visuals, thanks to the innovative ‘Step Crystals’ embedded within the wearlayer – which also guarantees the lifetime slip resistance. www.forbo.com

modulyss Design-led simplicity, functionality and minimalism combine in Opposite and Opposite Lines, the latest mini-tuft loop pile carpet tiles from modulyss. In a palette infused with vaporous blues, soft greys and natural shades of beige and brown, Opposite brings sophisticated clarity to commercial interiors. Capturing light to reveal intriguing optical effects, Opposite can be mix and matched with Opposite Lines, a simple linear take that upholds the minimalist ethos. www.modulyss.com

Antron The former 1970's Lufthansa building in the Deutz district of Cologne has been converted into the ultramodern maxCologne office complex. One of the office floors is atmospherically striking due to the unusual choice of flooring in the form of gold- and anthracite-coloured carpet. The fine-quality, deeppile and yet robust carpet from Object carpet made from Antron fibres creates a unique experience with positive acoustic characteristics. www.antron.net



Mix Interiors 165











BDP BDP has designed the new flagship showroom for prestige Italian furniture brand Poltrona Frau. Designed to a blueprint by leading French designer Jean-Marie Massaud, the new showroom is arranged over two floors on London’s Fulham Road, and is part of the brand’s decisive expansion strategy, which aims to increase its international presence. An important architectural feature is the large smoky grey glass case set six metres behind the reception desk, creating an interplay of transparency which invites visitors down to the lower floor. www.bdp.com

Granorte Granorte has published an impressive look book for its equally innovative Vita Décor direct digital print cork floors. Showcasing the collection’s array of vintage ceramic and intriguing parquet designs, the Vita Décor Sample Book demonstrates the unique style and depth of the collection, illustrated through beautiful photography. The book features all 21 Vita Décor designs and is now available from Granorte. The manufacturer is also working on a new POS concept featuring Vita Décor and designed to fulfil the needs of UK retailers. www.granorte.pt

moduleo Aspect Commercial Flooring Ltd has specified Latin Pine from the Moduleo Transform collection for a recent fit-out of the Braemar ACM offices in London. The flooring specialist chose Moduleo for the project, as it met with the client’s requirement for a light, woodeffect tile in a Herringbone finish. Moduleo’s Transform collection includes both wood and stone finishes and is created to withstand heavy footfall, making it ideal for commercial environments. www.moduleo.co.uk



Mix Interiors 165


We all think we know what good taste is, and so far as it is universally accepted, we are all right. But how much do we really understand about the things that surround us and their design, asks Mark Eltringham. In JG Ballard's novel High Rise, recently made into a film, he writes of the disdain Anthony Royal, the architect of the eponymous tower has for the tastes of its residents. 'The building was a monument to good taste, to the well-designed kitchen, to sophisticated utensils and fabrics, to elegant and never ostentatious furnishings. In short, to that whole aesthetic sensibility which these well-educated, professional people had inherited from all the schools of industrial design, all the award-winning schemes of interior decoration institutionalised by the last quarter of the century. Royal detested this orthodoxy of the intelligent. Visiting his neighbours’ apartments, he would find himself physically repelled by the contours of an award-winning coffee pot, by the well-modulated colour schemes, by the good taste and intelligence that, Midas-like, had transformed everything in these apartments into an ideal marriage of function and design. In a sense, these people were the vanguard of a well-to-do and well-educated proletariat of the future, boxed up in these expensive apartments with their elegant furniture, and intelligent sensibilities, and no possibility of escape.'

The idea of taste is a strange one, not least when we’re surrounded by people guiding our tastes in everything from cars to wine, food, clothes, house design, office design, restaurants, holidays, language, art, music, books and film. The problem with an acceptance of what we mean by ‘good taste’ is that it acts as a brake on change and innovation.

Taste is timorous, conservative and fearful

Alan Bennett once made the point in typical style. ‘Taste is timorous, conservative and fearful,’ he wrote. ‘It is a handicap. It stunts. Olivier was unhampered by taste and was often vulgar; Dickens similarly. Both could fail and failure is a sort of vulgarity; but it’s better than a timorous toeing of the line. Taste abuts on self preservation. It is the audience that polices taste. Only if you can forget your audience can you escape.’

You have to wonder how much mileage there might be in a rejection of the accepted idea of good taste, how much of our own independent thought we are willing to apply to the design of objects and how much we really understand about their design. I was taken recently by the discovery of an archive of drawings created by the designer Gianluca Gimini who, in 2009, began asking his friends to draw a bicycle from memory. The results are instructive about how much we really understand about even fairly simple mechanisms like a bike. Many of the drawing couldn't convey the form or function of the bike with many missing the most basic elements like chains and steerable handlebars. You can see the results at http://www.gianlucagimini.it/ prototypes/velocipedia.html. This does not show that we are stupid (although some of the drawings could be seen that way) but instead proves how little we know compared to what we think we know about the things with which we fill the world. Along with questioning our received ideas about good taste, it's something worth bearing in mind the next time we express an opinion on whether we consider something a piece of good or bad design.

Mark Eltringham is the publisher of workplace design and management website Office Insight. mark@officeinsight.org



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