All hands on deck

The past two weeks since my last post have whizzed by in a frenzy of meetings, late afternoon phone calls to the US, scheduling collections & deliveries for 2 projects, reviewing and revising planning submissions, and a midweek late night jaunt to Fitzrovia for a Hotel Design meet up thrown in for good measure.

As Penny has now left us to prepare to welcome her baby into the world this Summer we are without the welcome extra pair of hands, but the team have been doing an exceptional job of prioritising their tasks and managing their own schedules making use of every available minute.  We are at a crucial point in several of our projects that are coming to an end, and we were playing catch up after our double bout of heavy snow, and it’s times like these that really enforces how important it is to have a well-informed, highly motivated and communicative team that can anticipate and action items before they become worryingly urgent or the cause for delay.  In our Monday morning meetings, we run through and discuss every project, and determine where we need to be with each one by the end of the week.  We then allocate tasks to individual team members and they are then responsible for meeting their targets.  Sometimes things fall into the following weeks schedule, but most of the time this is due to us relying upon an outside source for something, whether it’s a sample we’ve ordered that hasn’t arrived yet, or a contractor responding to site queries, we have to make allowances for these and anticipate a reasonable response time when outsourcing for anything, it’s all part of the juggling act and why good organisational skills are crucial.

Over our teams collective years of experience, one thing we have all struggled with and come up against as a hurdle many times over, is sourcing exceptional exterior furniture.  The majority of suppliers in the UK specialise in wooden, rattan, chrome or plastic furniture, which almost always feels like we’re settling for what’s out there, rather than showing our clients the best possible option.  We’ve also found that at trade shows and events, it’s the same suppliers over and over again, showing the same furniture ranges with perhaps a minor tweak, and we’re always disappointed when looking for something new and innovative.  This has left us specifying from two of our most trusted suppliers, Coco Wolf and Restoration Hardware.  Coco Wolf is a trade only supplier, however they do have a by appointment showroom in London where clients can go and see a selection of their ranges.  RH is from the States, and we have used them previously in projects in the Americas and the Caribbean, and although the furniture is fantastic, sourcing from the US comes with it’s own drawbacks.  Being on the East Coast, the RH team don’t start work until 4pm our time, so trying to catch them on the phone can be tricky, and there is always a delay in email correspondence.  As well as this there is the added issue that we cannot calculate the Tax owed on the shipment until it arrives in the UK, so this requires a certain level of trust from our clients that they aren’t going to be met with a steep import tax bill when their products arrive.  Due to these factors, we have been putting more focus on sourcing exterior furniture from closer to home for our British & European clients, and we have been delighted to find some brand new ranges available from suppliers based in the UK.  One supplier was kind enough to visit us here in the Studio with the first and only chair to be manufactured from their new range, for us to sit on and test out before confidently specifying for our clients…watch this space for photos of our 2018 installations to see what we came up with!

Lizzie has been busy running the logistics of 3 projects we are installing this side of summer, the Twickenham townhouse, the Esher project, and the Hammersmith Grove townhouse, all installing within 5 weeks of each other.  It will be so wonderful to see our designs come to fruition and welcome our clients into their fabulous new homes.

Jonathan and Pippa have been applying for planning for several projects, including the Pool House, which required several minor revisions and additional drawings as per the new planning requirements, and also the beautiful little chocolate box cottage we are working on in Forton which has also gone into planning and we are hopeful of that decision towards the end of the month.

Despite our busy schedule over the past year, and what is set to be an even busier 2018, we are mindful not to fall into the dangerous zone of ‘comfort’.  We have a great list of returning clients that have worked with Stephanie for many years, and also new clients that have come to us either from social media, seeing us in magazines, or from word of mouth recommendation, and one of the reasons people come to us is that despite our reliable longevity, we continue to strive for innovation, to be able to offer our clients the best.  The team attend CPD events and trade shows where we can, and this week I was fortunate enough to be able to make it up to the Hotel Design meet up in Fitzrovia, hosted by the wonderful Edition London.  It was a sold out event which saw leaders from the commercial sector come together to network and showcase new products, discuss new projects, and build connections with each other in an informal setting over a glass of wine.  Exchanging information in this way may seem a little indulgent, but it’s actually really useful as you don’t feel like you’re being targeted to have products pushed upon you, like at some of the trade shows, but instead you’re there to mutually exchange perspectives, what’s selling, what clients are asking for, where there are gaps in the market, giving suppliers valuable feedback, as well as meeting leading Contractors and Architects for possible collaborations in the future.  It was a late finish and I returned home just before midnight, but well worth it to gleam a wealth of information and resources in a few short hours.

Next week we are focussing on the Cambridgeshire townhouse as they nearer their start date for the building work to commence, and follow up on our large Lymington project that is finally going to planning after a gruelling 18 months of revisions, as well as wind down operations before we break for the long Easter weekend.

 

Jenny Quinlan

Senior Designer