A four-day exhibition to highlight the challenges and opportunities faced by the British Furniture industry will launch at the House of Commons today. Organised by the British Furniture Confederation, the exhibition will showcase a range of manufacturers and industry bodies to provide MPs, peers and civil servants an insight into the furniture industry. The industry contributes £7 billion anually to the UK economy. Among those involved is steel storage company Bisley, which is keen to highlight issues such as the reduction in the annual investment allowance for plant and machinery and the phased abolition of the Industrial Buildings Allowance. The event is sponsored by Stephen McPartland MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group and is being held in the Upper Waiting Hall from 9-12 July, between 10am and 6pm.
Head east this spring to see the latest in office design innovation from the Russian market. Office Next Moscow opens its doors for office furniture professionals, real estate developers, architects and design enthusiasts from 15th – 17th May 2012. A sophisticated selection of office equipment will be shown at the Moscow Design Centre Artplay. Well-known international and Russian brands will be exhibiting at the show including Bisley, BuzziSpace, Dauphin, Herman Miller, Philips, Solo, Steelcase and Walter Knoll. Onoffice readers can register here for free entrance tickets: www.officenext-moscow.com.
John Irwin, managing director of Bisley, makes a case for design led manufacturing in Britain.
If the recent financial crisis has taught us anything, it is to appreciate the importance of a manufacturing culture. Disillusionment with the banks and the City has prompted many of us to wonder how so much money can be made and lost with nothing to show. It’s not just about the unreal world of high finance, but the virtual reality that we increasingly inhabit with our computers. There is a growing trend toward rejecting these virtual worlds and embracing authenticity – hence the desire to grow your own vegetables or knit your own jumpers. Hopefully, this will bring fresh appreciation for manufacturing – in particular, for products made locally. It’s a straightforward business model: take raw materials, add design, manufacturing, and tooling to create a physical product. As a baby boomer from the North East, I am part of the first generation not to be employed in the ‘smoke-stack’ of heavy industries such as ship building and mining. Much of this has been outsourced to developing countries, and Britain has been branded a nation of knowledge workers. With this a perception has arisen that the vast majority work in the service industries. Yet it’s wrong to dismiss British manufacturing as gone for good. In Britain we still make things, and we make them well, using cutting-edge manufacturing techniques and employing local design talent – widely regarded as the world’s best.In our own office furniture industry, you don’t have to look far to find home-grown success stories. Not only Bisley, but companies like Senator and Herman Miller retain a major UK manufacturing presence.
It’s the sophistication, precision and quality of these manufacturers that is so appealing to designers and specifiers of workplace interiors. In my experience, the quality of the products will largely determine the success of an office scheme. These manufacturers have continually invested in their factories and production technologies, to deliver enhanced products that aren’t easily replicated by less-skilled producers.Manufacturing is often accused of being product led – consumers are offered a product and decide whether to buy it. This may have been true several decades ago, but these days it is impossible for manufacturers to be successful with that attitude. Technologies employed by British manufacturers have made it much easier to produce individual, bespoke solutions, that can be delivered quickly. And while internal and external designers are employed to create a range of products that you will find in catalogues and at trade fairs, they are also busy working directly with customers on unique solutions.We have become project-led manufacturers, remaining customer focused and producing solutions to meet their needs. Our industry has evolved into a more consultative format, much more akin to design. So next time you hear about the UK financial meltdown, take heart that there are real, physical things still being made in the country that gave birth to the Industrial Revolution.
Bisley recently announced that it is the first UK office furniture manufacturer to be using the BCFA (British Contract Furnishing & Design Association) Carbon Footprint Calculator and can now report the carbon footprint of every one of its steel-based products. All Bisley products are made from steel that is 40 per cent recycled. Many large corporates are putting into place an environmental policy to drastically reduce the size of their carbon footprint. The effect of this on tendering processes has to be considered by specifiers of office furniture and opting for steel can only help.
Office storage company Bisley is one of the first to use the British Contract Furnishing & Design Association’s Carbon Footprint Calculator. The BCFA’s calculator takes into account all the materials used in both the product and its packaging, as well as the manufacturing, fuels and all transport implementations.
With this information, Bisley is able to make environmentally friendly decisions when manufacturing and designing its products. The SystemFile, pictured, is made from steel as with all Bisley products, which makes it 100 per cent recyclable.