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Timeless design: a conversation on contemporary appeal

Bradley Fielden, our Sales & Marketing Director, took time to do a Q&A where he gave great insight into the design process at Clarke Rendall. The topic for the discussion is the critical matter of keeping a relevant look as time passes.

At what point in the design process would style and colour be discussed? Do clients, perhaps with projects led by the architect, come to you with a particular style in mind?

Talking generally, it's not just architects. We have a wide variety of customers, such as furniture dealers and end-users, too. So sometimes those people might not have a design background.

If we’re speaking with someone who hasn't started looking at designs yet, we might initially refer them to our standard range, which is available in a range of colours and finishes.

We also ask them questions about the existing space and how much they want changed. Quite often, they're not changing very much, which means the design may have to be sympathetic to wood framings and carpets, for example.

Then and now

But if an interior designer or an architect comes to us, they've usually begun to design the area as part of a wider interior scheme. They would typically have a package of design options that they're thinking about.

They might have offered the client two or three options, which might be a particular colour or surface material, such as a textured surface, metal or a solid surface, and so on. We would then be discussing the pros and cons of each.

What are the main drivers for a particular design or colour? Are these fashion-led choices?

The existing space is often a big driver. If it's not a complete refit, then you know that's going to be important in future design decisions. We can provide visuals that will help the client.

Durability and cost are obviously very high on the agenda because even if you choose something modern, you don't want it to look tatty. Sometimes when we talk about things looking old, it's about something other than design, it could be related to the material used.

Trends and design intent are key too. Often someone will have seen something somewhere else and really like it, or they could have seen a product on our website and feel it fits the overall concept and design intent of what they're trying to do in their building.

Is there a look you would consider timeless?

Looking at some of our imagery in recent years, we've found that simple designs with neutral colours are the desks that stand the test of time. Mainly white, with contrast such as timber, tend to keep looking well through time.

For instance, a monolithic, stone effect desk with a neutral complement means that if you want to refresh the space, you can always change the carpet and the paint to a different colour, and your desk will still look relevant to the space.

That's the critical thing. It isn't always the desk that makes a space look dated. Instead, it could be the colours you've chosen for the walls, or the floor colouring, or the wear and tear on the floor that makes it look off.

Light or white-coloured monolithic designs, certainly over the last 15 years, have stood the test of time.

How much does it matter if a reception area looks dated, given the importance of first impressions to a business?

A fresh and timeless look can improve the visitor's first impression and mood. You can give the impression that the business is forward-thinking, successful, and experienced in what they do.

A dated welcome area gives the impression that the business is out of touch with modern practices, perhaps not as affluent and successful. We all like being in a clean, fresh, and tidy space.

Now that Clarke Rendall is thirty years old, how important is it for you to offer current trends but also not be afraid to advise people on suitable designs?

Our experience is essential here. We want to be current, with designs that people respond well to. We might put concepts out there to businesses we're friendly with and ask them what they think of our ideas.

We've always got our eye on trends that are developing worldwide. Thirty years on, ensuring we're hitting the mark is as important as ever.

If you’d like to chat about a tailored design project to complete or improve your reception space, contact us on 01908 391600 or email

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