Getting Ready to Appear at our First Show
Stanton Andrews has been focusing on a marketing drive and as part of that activity we took a space at a national trade show.
Once we’d decided to take the leap and attend the National Homebuilding & Renovation Show, we faced the challenge of creating our first exhibit space. As architects we were acutely aware that whatever space we produced would be judged as a representation of our architectural practice.
With this in mind, we thought about what atmosphere we wished to create in our exhibition space, a 4 x 4m plot at the Birmingham NEC, effectively an enormous warehouse. Our own past experiences attending this type of venue conjured memories of stress, bright artificial light, glossy plastic adverts and recycled air.
Our intention was to stand out from the crowd and create a calm, homely space to engage with potential clients at a slower, more considered pace.
As we offer a bespoke architectural service to our clients rather than an off-the-peg home, we felt there was an opportunity showcase our design skills by creating a bespoke set of furniture, emulating our practice in pushing boundaries and creating something a bit different. From this line of thinking, a collaboration soon fell into place between ourselves, Cembrit (a Danish manufacturer of cement fibre board) and Ingham Building & Joinery Contractors. You won’t find any cement fibre board furniture at your local furniture shop, which was exactly the motivation we needed to test out the material’s possibilities.
Cement fibre board is more commonly used for cladding buildings, because of its robust and water-resistant properties, we felt the humble material had further potential with a hunch that its almost contradictory hard but soft texture could provide an interesting counter-balance to the warmth of cherrywood, more usually associated with premium furniture. Choosing an untested material for a set of furniture was never going to be without its pitfalls, with no precedents to refer to we had to experiment to test what was possible and how the boards would react to traditional joinery techniques as well as coffee stains.
The versatile material also came into its own creating the walls to our space, forming a panelled backdrop with a muted but intriguing texture.
We had a month to take this project from concept to completion with the strict deadline of the Birmingham show. The success relied on efficient and close collaboration with both the manufacturers of the board and our joinery contractors tasked with fabrication. 3D computer modelling and in-house material testing aided our process to quickly test ideas, work out details and anticipate problems.
The results definitely generated interest at our stand and created an informal and hopefully refreshing space to engage with the public. With lessons learnt and insight gained, we hope to improve and refine our space for the Harrogate Homebuilding & Renovation Show.
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