Thursday, 25 June 2015

Workshops available for designers and small businesses

In need of a modern workshop space? 85 Caroline St in the Jewellery Quarter may be just what you are after. There are six self-contained soundproof workshops in various sizes – the largest could be shared by four or five individuals or a small company. And, of course you don’t have to be a jeweller to take on one of the workshops.

Facilities also include kitchen, shower and courtyard and are protected electronically with 24 hour access seven days a week.

“The workshops are on the ground floor – behind a gallery - in a completely refurbished apartment block,” explains Michele White a jewellery designer who has spearheaded the development of the new workspaces with the help of the European Regional Development Fund.

“Six benches for start-up jewellers are already taken but the other six spaces would suit any individual or small business. The aim is to develop a creative community of people with skills who can interact and help one another in a pleasant and congenial environment.”

85 Caroline St, Jewellery Quarter

If you are interested in joining this creative community please contact Michele by emailing  or telephoning: 07801 418217.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

On a mission - to Milan

In the first week of June, ILF's Ruth Edwards and a number of our companies joined a delegation to the Milan 2015 Expo. The group, which comprised West Midlands businesses, members of Birmingham City Council and Birmingham City University travelled as part of Birmingham Made Me's regional support initiative.

This was a chance to exchange ideas with other UK and Milanese companies including factory visits to Alessi and M&Z Rubinetterie. Clifton Steel, CMA Moldform, HF Contracts, K4 Architects, Richard Snell Design and Rudd Macnamra also attended briefings by researchers from the Midland Economic Forum, the Politecnico di Milano and Birmingham City University.

"Amazing trip, truly inspirational and more than I ever thought possible beforehand," said Roger Shafi from Clifton Steel. "We would like to offer our services out to universities to help inspire the next generation of our business and help students and other designers to understand our products and production process."

Roger Shafi, Clifton Steel and Milly Taylor, AMMBA (standing)

"The showrooms visited inspired the notion of designing for storage and integrated lighting," said Richard Snell. "I am also going to explore further development of ideas for a design history of the Midlands exhibition."

Richard Snell, Ruth Edwards and Beverley Nielsen on a visit to M&Z Rubinetterie

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

"What colour! What imagination! What vibrancy!"

Brinton rug - award winning design by BCU's Amy Newman

And, just to prove it, here are some images from the Birmingham City University Trends stand at the recent May Design Series expo in London. It comprised two installations each interpreting a trend selected by GlobalColor Research

The work was a collaboration between third year textile students and companies, including a number of West Midlands businesses and Tektura Wallcoverings. The stand itself was designed by BCU architecture students.

David Roberts, Executive Dean from BCU's Faculty of the Arts, Design and Media, speaking at the event celebrated the achievement of all involved, adding "What colour! What imagination! And what vibrancy!"

The Tropic set featured chairs by HF Contracts and carpet by Brintons. Brink showcased work by mrfdesign ltd, Textiles by St Anne's, Tiled Space and Interface Flooring.

"Best of all though was the inspiring work produced by Birmingham City University"


The second day of the exhibition featured the hotly awaited student awards. Visitors had voted throughout for the best wallpaper design. Angela Paterson from Tektura presented Sarah Meredith with her prize and acknowledged the high standard of all the student wall covering designs.

Sarah Meredith and Angela Paterson from Tektura Wall Coverings

Hannah Malein from GlobalColor also admitted that her judging had been made very difficult by the level of expertise displayed in the student work. The prize for Tropic went to Amy Newman for her Brintons' rug design. Shuangyuan Zhang took the Brink award for her  mrf design's s230 Flare Chaise.

Shuangyuan Zhang, Hannah Malein Globalcolor Research and Amy Newman

Brink - ceramic tiles by Tiled Space - fabric ones by Interface Flooring

Brink - s230 Flare Chaise by mrf ltd with award-winning design by Shuangyuan Zhang
Tropic - chairs by HF Contracts on Brintons rug and award -winning wallpaper by Sarah Meredith

In their blog Global Color Research™ said: "May Design Series featured several well considered and inspiring shows within shows………. Best of all though was the inspiring work produced by Birmingham City University, taking our trends Brink and Tropic as inspiration for both installations and fabric samples; with superb results.”

And the ILF team Ruth Edwards, Kathryn Burns and Adrian Burns

Photographs by David Boynton

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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

May Design Series London

The ILF team will be down in London 17-19 for the May Design Series at the ExCEL exhibition centre.  We'll be supporting three of our companies and Textile Design students from Birmingham City University.

So if any of our West Midlands companies are there, please call by stand BCU1. And, if that happens to be Monday afternoon (18 May) you'd also be welcome to join us for the the student awards session from 2pm.

The work of Tiled Space, Textiles By St Anne's and HF Contracts will feature on the stand, which showcases the skills of final year textile students.

'The Trends Project 2015 continues a long term strategic partnership with UBM Live, Global Color Research™ plus international digital wall covering manufacturer Tektura. It engages final year Textile Design students and associated academics with considerable industry and research experience to create two striking room sets showcasing news designs in response to Global Color S/S 2016 trends – Tropic & Brink. '

The ILF team, companies and students at the 2014 trends stand

May Design Series 

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Friday, 1 May 2015

That was the event that was!

We thought it would be good but team ILF was bowled over by the  buzz yesterday (30 April) at  'Make it in the West Midlands - meet the manufacturer and grow your design potential'   - but we really must come up with snappier shorter titles!

Between 8.30 and 2.00 over 200  people visited the stands in Parkside Atrium and Shell. As well as the industry visitors many design students turned up to quiz the manufacturers and designers including a delegation of Year 10 pupils from Highclare School in Birmingham.

Without going all Oscar acceptance speechy, we owe a huge thanks to all the exhibitors who put in a supreme effort in from 7 in the morning until close of event at 2 in the afternoon. This was matched by our guest speakers who when not presenting held impromptu meetings with visiting companies and exhibitors.

For more about the exhibiting manufacturers see here. For the designers go here.  And, don't forget to check out our speakers Patricia van den Akker and Sheridan Chaffey.

Meeting the manufacturers and designers, BCU Parkside Building
Ed Nash from The English Leather Company

Mark Wood from Tiled Space

More picsMake it in the West Midlands photos

Some of the feedback

"One of the best organised exhibitions that we have been to in Birmingham. It's been great networking  with similar-minded people as well as learning about their making processes."

"Great event & really inspiring for our 1st year students currently exploring fabric concepts!"

"very interesting couple of hours, met some great companies so a big Thank You from me to the people responsible for organising the event"

"We thought it was brilliant for our students,  The talks also were very good for them - I think it hit home exactly what the course is preparing them for in the commercial world."

"Met a lovely chair company. Got a cheeky snap of my cushion on their rocking chair."

"A great opportunity to network and meet manufacturers under one roof. Great insight and useful tips from the speakers. Thanks to ILF for their continued support, such a lovely team."

Photography by Adem Ince, Birmingham City University student

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Design Zone joins ILF 'Make it in the West Midlands...' event on 30 April

The Design Zone will be a small display of work by local designer makers - five young companies who set up through our ILF Venture programme and two companieswho took part in our Visioning workshop.

And, if you want to come and  meet them and our exhibiting manufacturers on 30 April register for free now through Eventbrite. More about the event here

Cofi Coo is an award-winning children's soft furnishings company. It believes in providing beautifully designed quality soft furnishings, which are entirely designed, digitally printed and manufactured exclusively in the United Kingdom. Products are collaboratively designed by Navita Uddin Jassi and the Cofi Coo design team.  Website

Some of Cofi Coo's quirky children's furnishings

Jodie Laura Designs hand makes high quality home and fashion textiles that are customisable. The 
range includes cushions, door stops, lampshades, accessories and figure flattering aprons that can be worn in the home or as business uniform. Website

Stylish apron design from Jodie Laura

Lloydie Apparel is a unique streetwear brand founded by recent fashion design graduate Lloyd Taylor. He creates high-quality unisex t-shirts, hoodies and accessories with elements of tie-dye. Website

Tie dye from Lloydie Apparel
Magnino Fine Furniture Armando Magnino designs and makes fine furniture. Some of his work is one off bespoke commissions for private clients but he has also developed a range of designs that can be manufactured in small batches for retail and exhibitions. Website

Slider extending coffee table in English Oak  by Magnino Fine Furniture

Magnus & Bella are artist jewellers and designer makers, trained in traditional craft skills but with a talent for contemporary design and materials. As an English company with a strong focus on their eco-credentials, they are proud to state that all of their precious metals are recycled and smelted by British refiners, their high-tech resins are made in England and their packaging is hand made in Britain. Website

Sterling silver napkin rings by Magnus & Bella

Rachel Richardson-Jones is a gifted surface designer whose prime inspiration comes from exploring camouflage theories and optical effects to create a range of design-led products and patterns. As well as collaborating with other design brands Rachel has created her own limited-edition range of interior products featuring two design collections: camoufleur and dazzleblue. Website

Dazzleblue by Rachel Richardson Jones 

Yanii Akeliah creates exquisite photorealistic printed textile products for interiors.She loves evocative colour palettes, herbal tea and exotic flowers. Website

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Make it in the West Midlands – meet the manufacturers and grow your design potential

We are delighted to announce that Interiors & Lifestyle Futures is hosting an event for our community of companies on Thursday 30 April 2015. 

‘Make it in the West Midlands’ will provide an excellent opportunity for design-led businesses and design professionals to research alternative methods of manufacture and use of materials and explore design possibilities of the processes available to them.

Register now for free through Eventbrite.

Exhibitors to date include 17 local manufacturers and service providers -  detailed below -  ranging from lasers cutters to digital printing and plastic moulding to electroforming. To name but a few. 

They will be joined by keynote speakers Sheridan Chaffey, Director, New Channel Developments Ltd and Patricia van den Akker Director, an online business school for designers and makers.

Patricia van den Akker and Sheridan Caffey

Sheridan is a founder member of the Institute of Digital and Direct Marketing, a former marketing director for Kays Catalogue in Worcester and these days enjoys helping SMEs sell more. He will outline case studies of how companies have placed products into major high street retail, covering some of the nine sales channels they use.

Patricia is passionate that creatives create businesses they are proud of, exploring their unique talents, creating products and experiences with real impact, and making money too. She is a regular speaker at events, workshops and webinars across the UK, and has written 100s of blog posts on wide range of creative business topics. At our event Patricia will explore the topic of identifying and selling more to dream clients.  

Speakers' schedule
9.30-9.45: Sheridan Chaffey
11.00-11.30: Patricia ven den Akker
12.30-12.45 Sheridan Chaffey

‘Make it in the West Midlands’ will run from 8.30am to 2.00pm at the Birmingham City University’s Parkside Building in the city centre on Thursday 30 April 2015. 

Exhibiting manufacturers

3D Creation Lab is a 3D printing bureau with ten x 3D printers, five different technologies, scanning facilities, 2D & 3D CAD,  file fixing and project management. Website

3D Creation Lab

A Wardle & Co (casters) Ltd manufactures caster of precious and base metal items, including jewellery, silverware, brassware and hardware. ( Raw casting through to finished item if required). Website

Blacktapesociety is a mutual group dedicated to the support development and distribution of creative media throughout the West Midlands.  As well as offering a laser cutter and photographic studio hire, Black Tape provides dedicated investment into the creative sector, through the provision of grant funding, training and workshops, mentoring, incubator space ('studios') and one to one support including advertising and networking. Website

CMA Moldform Limited produces high quality scale models in resin & rubber & metal; Rapid Prototypes & limited volume production of resin & rubber parts for numerous industries. Bespoke artwork for artists, sculptors, interior designers, architects, films, advertising and exhibition events on a worldwide basis. Website

Coleshill Design is part of the Coleshill Plastics Ltd Group, which celebrated 40 years in the plastics industry in 2014.  Their design arm designs, manufactures and supplies independent, national and international retailers with British made high, quality, decorative home wares.  The company also supports and works with many designers and artists enabling them to have their own designs moulded on to Coleshill's products, helping them to expand their brand into the home wares market easily and quickly.  Website

Etch Components provides photo etching for a wide variety of businesses from the car manufacturing industry to the jewellery trade and model engineering.  They work with brass, silver, stainless steel, aluminium & bronze. Website

The English Leather Company is a leather finisher and supplier specialising in the production of traditional English bridle leather. It supplies numerous leather goods manufacturers whose products are sold worldwide. It ensures that quality and ethical standards are met when production is carried out, selecting only producers it already works with in order that these standards are achieved. Website

Glass Monkey's Robert Garner makes decorative pieces of glass for domestic and commercial customers.He also makes furniture with glass in it and services include a broad array of frosted and etched glass, sandblast engraving, domestic and commercial contemporary or traditional designs, acid etched glass, deep sculptured glass bespoke kitchen and bathroom splashbacks, etc. Website

GM Glass

Metalier Coatings is part of Granlyn specialist coating. It supplies and creates specialist finishes, redefining the way  businesses work with metal giving them the ability to mix metals and create their own unique Metalier alloys, finishes and effects. Website

Rudd Macnamara prints and forms plastics and metals. nameplates, badges made out of Aluminium, brass and stainless steel, printed anodised and chemically etched, also vac formed plastic panels for point of sales display, which are often illuminated. Website

The Silk Bureau Ltd is the UK’s leading digital textile printing company producing 5* printing for high end fashion, International retail, New York, Paris, Milan fashion week and more. Website

The Silk Bureau
Sitting Firm Chairmakers specialise in modern and traditional Windsor chairs with over 300 designs in their range. They have an international reputation for the quality and services they provide in their purpose-built Midlands factory. The company stresses that creative collaborations are essential to their strategic aims. Website

Tektura Ltd is the market leader in manufacturing and supplying commercial wallcoverings and digital printing for architects, interior designers and end users in the specificiation industry It works closely with  specifiers on updating new designs, assisting on budgets and ensuring stock is available when required. Website

Textiles by St Anne’s manufactures soft furnishings for the domestic and contracts market. It also provides a bespoke product development service for new businesses working on product ranges including cushion, wash bags, pencil cases, purses and aprons. Significantly, it undertakes small runs for start-up companies. Textiles by St Anne's is part of BITA Pathways, Birmingham’s leading mental health charity. Website

Tiled Space uses its own patent technology to print images into the surface of glazed products such as ceramic and porcelain tiles, glass and enamel. Images are fired at high temperature fusing the image into the structure of the glass particles.  Sister company, specialises in sourcing ware for customers and printing designs on to mugs, cups, saucers, plates, and tiles with all work hand decorated by skilled professionals. Website

Register now for free through Eventbrite.

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