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The joy of working with architects

Great design is the result of great collaborations and communication: between our clients and the end client; between our design team and our workshop; and, often, between architects and us.

We have been lucky enough to work with some wonderful architects on many of our projects — and the difference their skills and knowledge bring to the jobs is immeasurable. Bradley Fielden, our Sales & Marketing Director, tells us more.

Why would Clarke Rendall be working with architects?

To deliver a complete - and completely brilliant - job. In these instances, they are doing the creative part because they’re designing it all — and we are providing the technical support and ‘how to’ knowledge. They’ve been employed by the end user to design and coordinate the look and technical performance of the building or floor - to make sure everything looks great but also to make sure the area functions properly for circulation of people and fire regulations, etc - and we’ve been employed for our manufacturing expertise.

What are the benefits of collaborating with architects?

They usually have a team involved in the design prior to us getting involved — and that’s a huge benefit to us because a lot of the early ideas and options have already been agreed upon. Plus there’s been a team working on the project so there’s already been lots of creative input: they’ve already explored finishes and samples…

Aren’t you missing out on the fun stuff?

No. It’s all fun stuff! Architects are often very insightful and have lots of experience — so it’s enjoyable to learn a few things on the way. A finish you’ve never seen before, for example. Right now we’re talking with an architect who wants to use a recycled paper product for the construction and surfaces of a desk. We’ve never used that product before so it’s really interesting to find out how it might work for the project and how to work with it.

Does this take you beyond just furniture manufacturing?

We often venture over the line from furniture into construction - when an architect has asked us, for instance, for a very long cantilevered bench that has to sit 12 people but has to appear to be floating… then, we have to think about structural calculations and steelwork. Again, that challenges us and we really enjoy that part of it.

Quite often the architect comes to us with great ideas but doesn’t always know how to build the product. Being the consultant, using all our knowledge and experience, that’s what we really enjoy doing. (The added benefit of going through such consultations, of course, is we will usually be named on the architect’s tender — and that means the construction companies will naturally come to us.)

Do architects approach a brief differently?

I think they do because quite often they’re trying to incorporate some of the functions of the building. They have to think about the electrics, the air-conditioning, the heating, accessibility, health & safety, and how all these different elements work together.

The architect’s knowledge of the surroundings makes the projects more cohesive and often if it’s a new build, they may have been working on the outside of the building, too — so they carry those design details from the exterior to the interior.

Which architecturally-led projects are you especially proud of?

We are proud of all our projects — but there’s a recent one - a job on Marylebone High Street in London by CSK Architects - that recently picked up an award for the use of metalwork. At the Schuco Excellence Awards in association with Architecture Today, the judges commended the project for its ‘contextual sensitivity, expressive detailing, and clever use of Schüco steel systems.’

It wasn’t an enormous amount of furniture — but it was a very high-end desk with a very specific stone that had to be imported. Everything was done in really high finishes: leather, brass, beautiful stone… and the area was restricted in size - no room for a tea-point - so they had a little secret door that opened up to reveal a small kitchenette. It was a really unusual, quirky, project that was really successful. And that it won an award is really rewarding.

We’ve also worked with architects TateHindle many times; most recently on their 45 Folgate Street, London project for investment banking company Credit Suisse. We built a reception for them that had a cantilevered bench and lots of hidden heating and air-con machinery that we built within our products. Again, stunning finishes - including concrete and oak - and clever use of lighting.

Another client is Pringle Richards Sharratt. A memorable project for them was the prestigious Savoy Court — the office unit right next to the Savoy hotel in London. This, too, was high-end and high on detail. Really impressive with loads of dark brown leather with quality light stitching and a desk with a liquid metal finish! We built the joinery in timber and then had it coated in a granulated metal product which was applied and polished up so it looks like a solid lump of bronze. A really cool project to work on.

Can you sum up the joy of working with architects?

We enjoy the professional leadership that architects and good designers bring to a project. It means we can focus on the methods to achieve the best results — and often lead times are more generous with these projects because they might be working on the building - or have something to build - first. Most of all we enjoy the recognition that we get from helping an architect or designer fulfil their design intent: on time, within budget, and snag-free — because that’s what we do best.

Whether you are working with an architect or a commercial fit-out company, we can help with your reception desk and office furniture requirements. Get in touch with the team at or call 01908 391600 for more information.

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