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How to create a bespoke look without the price tag!

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

At Clarke Rendall, we are known for creating both standard and bespoke reception desks. The ‘standard’ offers highly-versatile ranges ‘off the page' and the ‘bespoke’ option allows you to design concepts that will be handmade just for you.

But did you know about our 'specials' service? This service lets you customise the ‘standard’ to deliver the bespoke look but without the price tag. Here, Martin Clarke, our Managing Director, talks us through one such project.

"People are very conscious of expenditure - even more so, nowadays - which obviously puts pressure on the manufacturer to be able to service that budget while maintaining our own profitability, design standards, and levels of customer satisfaction.

We are one of a few companies that offer a standard range that we are willingly prepared to deviate from. But it makes sense, the more we can incorporate standard manufacturing methodology - the detailing, the material usage, etc, in these special versions of our standard products, the more competitive we can be.

One job in particular for a leading Global Transport and Logistics Provider is a great example of where we were challenged with providing what needed to be a bespoke-looking product that fell within the client's budget.

Initially, we engage in a conversation with our Furniture Dealer client to gather as much information as we can about the style their client is looking to achieve. Sometimes there are architect sketches or designer's concepts, but quite often all we have from our client is a footprint of the area the desk is going to occupy.

For this project, it was a really distinctive shaped footprint — and obviously that, in itself, meant the desk was going to have to be a “bespoke” shape for the desk to function.

Having been given an idea of the budget available, it was quite apparent at the outset that, rather than an out-and-out bespoke solution, we needed to draw on something that had already been pre-designed and pre-costed - and technically - and engineering-wise had been worked through - which obviously our standard products are.

We then looked at our standard products to decide which to put forward in a design. For this one, we suggested looking at our Invite and Xpression desks to start things off. Then one of my design team created a “bespoke” version of each style for the end-user client to look at.

Obviously, our client understands we have the capability to tweak the designs of the standard desks to make them fit and work with their client’s desired end result. When I set up this business in 1992, we set out our stall as a bespoke furniture manufacturer, so Clarke Rendall’s foundations are built upon that pedigree and experience.

Using both styles of desk, the standard desks were split down the middle and a lower angled section was added in the centre, the Invite version was in Corian, and the Xpression version in Laminate. Ultimately when the final design was decided, the style of the Invite desk was chosen but both material options were used, with Corian outer sections and a Laminate-shaped lower section.

Both the client and our own team were delighted with this styling and mix of materials, it kept the desk within budget but they were able to achieve the style they required for such a large welcoming reception area. The end product looks amazing.

With this project, we already knew how to make certain elements of the desk. We knew what materials were involved, how long it would take to manufacture, so we were able to cost it with a great degree of accuracy. If we had approached the project with just a bespoke solution in mind, it would have cost around 30% more than we were actually able to produce it for — and we wouldn’t have been able to fall in with our client’s budgetary figure.

This means we can deliver in a shorter timescale too. You need to allow a minimum of 8-10 weeks for a bespoke item, whereas if you can call upon the styling and detailing of some of our standard products, to “bespoke” them, our lead times are 6-8 weeks.

In essence, this furniture is bespoke. I’m slightly biased but I think all our standard products have something about them. As a company, we are quirky. We are so comfortable with tweaking the standard product because of our heritage. We are bespoke cabinet makers, we do not have production lines churning out masses of the same product day in, day out.

All our furniture is handmade to order and I think our difference shows."

If you’re looking to achieve the bespoke look but without the bespoke price tag then please contact us at or call 01908 391600


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