Thursday, 31 March 2011

Review: trends workshop 24 March

Recently Zoe Phillips and I have been collating all the trend information that we have gathered to identify what we think will be the 2012 trend directions. Why were we doing this? We were invited by Interior & Lifestyle Futures to deliver a short course on the impact of trends and consumer behaviour to a group of businesses from the interiors and lifestyle cluster. They saw the huge benefit to their business in understanding how to identify trends and how to target their customers with this information.

Trends board by Nest Creates

The morning started with an explanation of the different types of trends, what they are for, how to keep track of them year on year and ended with an interactive exercise where everyone tried to identify which group they belong to. This certainly got people talking! Once we identified how and why we follow trends, we discussed the importance of being there at the start of a trend to maximise the opportunity chartered through the 'profitable retail versus consumer behaviour' curves and we showed the delegates how to filter the research by profiling their customers.
Trends seminar 24 March 2011

After lunch, Zoe presented her interpretation of the direction for trends in the coming year. Her key message, throughout, was that the British consumer is much more inward-looking than in 2010. This indicates there is less of an interest in the global market place and a greater purchasing commitment to sourcing local. The whole country is of a similar mindset after the economic crash, focussing on craftsmanship and provenance over price. She set out four trends in which the reoccurring theme of skill, craftsmanship and keeping the money in Britain to aid recovery from the recession was featured.

Feedback from some participants on the day

"To be in business without all the tools to know your customer and market, limits your ability to forge ahead in front of your competitors to new markets" Peter Wright from Strata Orangeries and Conservatories

"Excellent day, a fantastic thought evoking presentation. I've taken away a lot today" Rosie McLaughlin & Wendy Gao from F&L UK Ltd

"Intelligent and thought provoking - it will certainly help me with planning future directions" Russ Bedson from Direct Salon Suppliers Ltd

"Interesting, fun and informative – a great day!" Hannah Bates from Hannah Jewellery Designs

To find out more about Kate and Zoe please visit Nest Creates and their blog. To keep up to date with Interiors & Lifestyle Futures workshops and events please go to:

Monday, 28 March 2011

Meet the BBC's Dragons' Den team

Post Adrian Burns
Calling all dynamic - and brave - West Midlands business people: following previous posts an exciting addition to the roster for the Walsall and Stafford Intellectual Property workshops has just been announced. The production team behind the BBC's Dragons' Den - and some of the entrepreneurs who've faced the Dragons and survived - will be there.

So, if you are a West Midlands Interiors and Lifestyle Futures company looking for investment in your business or new idea and you'd like to find out more about the Dragons' Den application process this will be a golden opportunity. Neil Westwood, Magic Whiteboard one of the most successful investments to enter the Den, will be at the Walsall IP workshop on 5 April to tell his story while Peter Neath, Grillstream, will reveal all at the Stafford workshop on 13 April.
Are you ready to take on the Dragons?

Online IP Health Check

You can also produce your own free online IP Health check here. Then just take the confidential report it creates along to a workshop and discuss with one of the IP experts.

And if you'd like to hear how useful and enjoyable previous attendees have found the workshops there's a short video here

To book for 5 April

To book for 13 April

Friday, 25 March 2011

Glassdomain Showroom opens in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter

Glassdomain designers and producers of high quality glass furniture – and an active member of the Interiors and Lifestyle Futures community – have opened a new showroom/gallery in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

Previously operating as a dedicated online internet service, people can now see for themselves, Glassdomain’s stunning range of range of furniture. It will appeal to both discerning consumers and professionals from architectural practices, interior design houses and the furniture market.

Decorative glass heating panels by Glassdomain

The showroom also features pieces from leading glass furniture producers: FIAM & SOVET of Italy. Glassdomain have been appointed as UK representative for both these world-renowned companies. The Caadre Mirror, designed by Philippe Starck and Cini Boeri’s Ghost chair are on display and available for sale.

Glassdomain’s products for home and office are available in standard sizes, but most can also be produced to bespoke dimensions creating unique pieces.

The new showroom was previously a factory but has been reborn as a dedicated 3000 sq feet showroom/gallery. There are three show areas: one dedicated to the home, the second dominated by ICON (see below) and the third displaying the company’s ever-growing Poise range of contemporary office glass furniture products.

Glassdomain are the sole producers of ICON-GLASS, which uses a unique digital printing process to create stunning images on glass. ICON can be used in a host of different situations, from shower splash backs to reception area settings. It can even be used to create art works.

ICON-GLASS Shower splashback from Glassdomain

Glassdomain will be hosting an official launch event soon. Watch this space for details.

Glassdomain is in the Jewellery Quarter at 199 Warstone Lane, B18 6JR (View on Google Maps)
Contact details
E: T: (0121) 236 6637.
For the very latest news on the new showroom from Glassdomain, read their blog, follow them on Twitter, or find them on Facebook.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Creating brand value through intellectual property

Post Adrian Burns See here for an exciting update to this post
This is a reminder that Interiors & Lifestyle Futures companies are invited to two IP workshops in the West Midlands. They will be run by The Intellectual Property Office (an operating name of the Patent Office), the government agency responsible for registering IP rights in the UK.

Creating brand value for your business
Where: Walsall Football Club, Banks Stadium, Bescot Crescent, Walsall, WS1 4SA
When: 16:00 - 21:00 Tuesday 5 April 2011
Register/more information:

Creating brand value for your business
Where: Stafford County Showground, Weston Road Stafford ST18 OBD
When: 09:00 - 13:00 Wednesday 13 April 2011
Register/more information:

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Day courses Summer 2011

Post Dawn Meaden-Johnson

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures people looking for specialised skills or to brush up on old ones may like to know about a variety of short courses available in summer 2011. The School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University, has organised the programme, stressing that you don’t have to be a jeweller to find a number of the courses useful. The programme runs from the 27 June until 4 August and takes place in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter.

“These courses offer the opportunity to anyone involved in the Jewellery world or other creative industries to learn highly specialised techniques and approaches in a relatively short time frame,” says Gay Penfold, Manager of the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre.

“In keeping with our reputation we have once again engaged some of the very best tutors from industry and academia.”

For details including times and costs of specific courses, please see the attached schedule and brochure on Slideshare. You can ring 0121 248 4584, Monday to Thursday from 9.30am to 2.30pm, to book or for more information

2011 school of jewellery short course brochure

View more presentations from I&L Futures.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Small businesses to take on the procurement giants

Post Ken Thompson

There will be many interiors and lifestyle businesses in the West Midlands fired up by what David Cameron had to say in his ‘Enemies of Enterprise’ speech at the weekend.

Included in his broadside were “the public sector procurement managers who think that the answer to everything is a big contract with a big business and who shut out millions of Britain's small- and medium-sized companies from a massive potential market.”

"We're throwing open the bidding process to every single business in our country - a massive boost for small businesses, because we want them to win at least a quarter of these deals."

David Cameron at the Conservative Party Spring Conference in Cardiff, Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

In practical terms one of the best ways small businesses can access these contracts is not by themselves but in collaboration with other complementary businesses. Such collaborations are often referred to as Virtual Enterprise Networks due to their ability to provide small businesses with pay-as-you-need virtual resources.

Historically, however, these collaborative groups have found it difficult to win government contracts due to risk adverse procurement regulations and procurement managers who favour large vertically integrated suppliers.
These are the issues: liability, insurance, trading history, networked supply chains etc that must be addressed if this initiative is to really deliver for small businesses.

If you have ideas for possible collaborations in the West Midlands or want to find out how Interiors & Lifestyle Futures can help you form successful bidding collaborations, please contact: Iain Acton t: 0121 331 7922 e: or
Navin Sood t: 0121 331 7924 e:

For more details of David Cameron's speech see Nicholas Watt's Guardian report
Learn more about the type of collaborations described above in Ken Thompson's The Networked Enterprise.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Learn all about Trends prediction

Post Gay Penfold
West Midland-based creative team Kate Thorley and Zoe Phillips of Nest Creates are running a trends workshop on 24 March 2011. The workshop is offered as a full day or presentation-only event. Bookings for the whole day are limited to 20 places on a first come first served basis while the afternoon-only presentation session is open to a further 23 bookings.

Full day
Kate and Zoe will take you on a journey through trend mapping and consumer behaviour. Through this workshop they will demonstrate the value of trend prediction. You will learn, through an interactive seminar, how to raise your awareness of trends, how to identify and map them and how to apply this information to your customers’ needs and that of your business. This will be followed by the afternoon trends presentation described below.

Registration is at 9.00am, lunch and mid-morning refreshments will be provided and the workshop will conclude at 3.00pm.
To book all day please go to:

Afternoon-only trends presentation
Kate Thorley and Zoe Phillips will present their interpretation of the trends for 2012 based on their design research and provide guidance in how to undertake this research for yourself in the future. Their presentation will be of interest to a wide range of companies, designers and designer makers who wish to gain an overview of upcoming trends, which will inform both current and future product development and enable the application of trend spotting tips within their businesses for the future.

The presentation starts at 2.00pm and will conclude at 3.00pm.

To register for the afternoon presentation only please email:

Venue: the Diamond Suite at the British Jewellers Association, Federation House, 10 Vyse Street, Birmingham B18 6LT