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 

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

Capricorn Coating Services Ltd  provides customers a range of promotional branding solutions as well as specialising in many services such as: trade doming, cold enamelling, durenamel,canvas artwork and much more.  Website

Canvas artwork by Capricorn Coating Services

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

GM Glass Design'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

SceneinSilver offers a finishing service for designer, silversmiths and manufacturing industries. This includes hard gold plating, direct deposit silver and copper plating on new and refurbished metal ware.  Sizes range from cufflinks to candelabras. The company also casts in resin and fine silver electroform hallmark standard life size fruit or customers' own items. 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.

Follow @adrianilfutures 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Tight budget? Create a marketing strategy for free

In our Visioning workshops for small businesses, it is frequently clear that there is little if any budget for marketing. One thing they can do, points out Vanessa Merit Nornberg, is to develop a narrative that becomes a cost-free marketing strategy.

Vanessa suggests three overlapping options:
  1. Tell your company story
  2. Tell your product story
  3. Tell your personal story

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Student design competition - deadline 3 April 2015

As part of the Affiliation of Rotomoulding Organisations (ARMO), the British Plastics Federation (BFP) is launching a competition open to all UK and International design students.  There are financial prizes for each winner and a six month work placement for the overall winner.

"The Challenge
Rotational moulding is a production process that offers extensive creative possibilities to designers in terms of shape, strength, size and functionality. To find out more about the rotational moulding process click here.

The design challenge is to create a product that demonstrates an appreciation of the many advantages of this moulding process within one of the following categories
  •   Our green environment
  •   Illumination
  •   At leisure
A representative of the BPF Rotational Moulding Group would be happy to give students a presentation on the roto moulding design competition if required. Course leaders should contact Paul Baxter on for more information."

"Entry Submissions
  •    Maximum 4 x 2d/3d illustrations/sketches/renderings from a minimum of three perspectives.
  •    A4 Product poster
  •    A brief essay (max 300 words) on your design highlighting features and USPs
Entry Deadlines
  •    All entries for the competition must be received by the BPF by 17.00 GMT on the 3rd April 2015
  •    The winning entries for all categories will be announced on the 22nd May 2015"

To read more about this including details of criteria, prizes and sponsors plus link to submit entries please see : ARMO/British Plastics Federation

For more on the BFP including typical materials and products used please see here

Follow @adrianilfutures 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How To Create A Brand

It is from a couple of years ago but this article by Marjo Johne in Canada's The Globe and Mail has some excellent points to make about brand creation. It includes Axle Davids, of Distility Branding in Toronto, sharing his thoughts. 
"The classic misconception is that branding is just about a logo or a name.” To do it right, he advises, start with these questions:
"Who is your target audience? Before you say “everybody” – which many businesses do out of fear they might limit themselves – think hard about who your most important customer is. That’s your primary audience, Mr. Davids says. Then identify your secondary and tertiary audiences.
What’s the competition doing? How are they addressing your target audience? This is easier to determine if you’re in a mature market with one or two well-entrenched competitors.
What’s your brand position? What sets you apart in your market? If you can’t answer this, then you’re losing on a critical concept of branding: how to differentiate yourself.
What’s your brand promise? Determine what you’re passionate about, fuse that with the needs of your target audience and you get your brand promise – the benefit that you promise to deliver.
What’s your brand personality? In what style will you deliver your brand promise? Will you be dependable but surprisingly fun? Will you be the hero, with better-than-the-rest deals that don’t compromise on quality?"
For the full article and links to other items on start-ups, entrepreneurship and blogging please see here.

Follow @adrianilfutures 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Cofi Coo's Alina gets triple entrepreneur nominations

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures is delighted to learn that one of the stars of our 2012 Venture programme has been nominated for three business awards. 

Alina Masood, co-owner of Cofi-Coo with her sister Ammara, is a nominated finalist in three categories of Birmingham City Council's Business Catalyst Awards 2015:  Entrepreneur of the Year, Female Entrepreneur of the Year and Innovation Award for Business. The awards are aimed at the City's leading businesses and most promising start-ups.

Alina and Ammara took part in our second phase of the Venture programme in 2011-12, establishing children's soft furnishings brand - Cofi Coo, which had early trading success in the Birmingham Made Me shop in the Mailbox. 

The awards will be held at Hotel La Tour later in February and tickets will be available on Eventbrite.

We are keeping our fingers crossed for Alina and Cofi Coo. Find them at and follow them on twitter; @CofiCoo

Alina Masood
Follow @adrianilfutures 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Visioning workshops - latest dates.

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures's popular free Visioning workshops for creative and small West Midland businesses begin again in 2015. So, if you want to give your thinking and/or your business strategy a good spring cleaning, the next available date is:

Workshop 19 Wolverhampton - The Pavilion Sports and Social Club, Stafford Rd, WV10 6AJ
Day 1 Tuesday 17 March and Day 2 Tuesday 24 March. Days run from 9.45 until no later than 16;30.

Visioning workshop Worcester Oct 2014
If you'd like to attend either workshop 18 or 19 please contact Ruth Edwards:

T: 0121 331 7922

About our workshops
If you are a creative West Midlands based small business or sole trader  wanting to take a fresh look at your future business direction, then this will be two days well spent.The workshop is free thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

You'll need to working broadly within the interiors and lifestyle sectors (furniture, furnishings, textiles,  interiors, ceramics, glass, jewellery, art or services that support these areas).

The two-day Visioning workshop  helps you
  • identify strengths, gaps and opportunities through our unique network wheel
  • take a look at your existing business and/or explore new ideas 
  • map your current business network, identifying positive and negative aspects
  • create an action timeline for implementing changes
  • discuss issues with and learn from other businesses