We were delighted to welcome a group of Danish visitors to our showroom and workshop recently. The group of around twenty furniture industry experts came to England for a few days to see three companies involved in different stages of furniture making on the south coast, whilst combining it with a little sightseeing. It was a classic ‘busman’s holiday’ and one I’m really glad they made.
The group itself, Horsens Snedkerlaug is the Carpentry Guild for the area of Horsens, a town/City at the centre of Denmark’s second largest City region with over 1 million inhabitants.
There was a huge depth of knowledge and expertise amongst the group and it was great to show people around the showroom and workshop, who shared our passion for wood and woodworking.
The Chair of the group Esben Leth himself worked for 47 years handcrafting timber frames for windows. It is from him I learnt the Danish for ‘Better than aluminium’, which I can only agree with.
I hope they felt they learnt a bit more about how we make furniture here at Conquest and I know I learnt a little bit more about Hygge and was told that to understand it we really should visit Denmark which I’m now very tempted to do. Thanks to our very own Emma Slade for the fabulous Victoria Sandwich cake, lemon tart and mini scones. The scones were accompanied by clotted cream and jam which caused some confusion amongst our guests but everyone seemed to get the hang of it in the end.
I’m not too sure I’l be taking their advice in relation to the two bottles they left with us, the contents of which they assured me, should be drunk in the morning. The label reads 38% proof.
We are delighted at the response we’ve been getting in relation to the unique piece of furniture that we’ve made and installed in the foyer of the Chichester Festival Theatre.
As a long time supporter of our local theatre – the Chichester Festival Theatre, we were delighted to be given the opportunity to make something special for them and that would support one of their productions.
The furniture piece that we made and supplied to the theatre is in support of a trilogy of plays by Alan Ayckbourn, entitled the Norman Conquests.
Although the piece itself is contemporary in style, it’s illuminated and distinct display areas are perfect for displaying the artefacts of the everyday domestic scene from the 1970’s including some that have a certain kitsch quality to them. The furniture piece serves as sharp relief for this nostalgic collection that evokes 1970’s Britain.
The 3 plays are Living Together, Table Manners and Round and Round the Garden and all centre around the central character Norman and 5 other friends/family members in this absurd comic tale. Norman would like to seduce Annie though he is married to her sister, Ruth. He’s also got his eye on Sarah, though she’s married to Reg – who is Annie and Ruth’s brother. Tom, from next door, isn’t married to anyone, though he too nurses secret hopes beneath the surface. It’s all about a weekend where these six characters come together and chaos ensues basically!
Each play can be seen on its own as a standalone piece in any sequence or they can on certain days all be seen as one event.
As sponsors of the Norman Conquests – Conquest Fitted Furniture are designing a special installation for the foyer to be in place throughout the run of the production. Conquest are working with our show designer Simon Higlett to design and install a bespoke piece of furniture – this will be themed around the three plays and be a fantastic centrepiece for our Festival Theatre foyer.
Vicki Gregory, Corporate Development Manager, Chichester Festival.
Sous vide is a cooking technique which is common place in all good restaurants. Miele’s latest offering brings this simple technique to your kitchen enabling you to produce gourmet quality meals simply.
The home technology gadgetry market continues to grow as does the interest in preparing ever higher quality meals at home. The reason why the sous vide approach is so popular with chefs is because the food is initially vacuum sealed in a food grade plastic pouch to retain all flavours and then cooked either in water or steam to a precise temperature, sufficient to kill all pathogenic bacteria but not so high as to have any negative impact on texture or flavour. The result is food cooked to perfection with maximum flavour.
Miele’s combination of vacuum drawer and steam over enables this precise method of cooking and whilst it may appeal to the home gourmet – arguably it has a stronger appeal for the culinarily challenged. If you find that your efforts in the kitchen , too often result in undercooked or overcooked meals that elicit a rather practised and strained ’mm lovely …’ response, then the consistency of this approach could transform your results.
Miele’s vacuum equipment can also be used to vacuum foods that have already been cooked and extend their refrigerated and frozen shelf life which should help to reduce food waste.
Conquest is a Miele appointed supplier. (Image courtesy of Miele)
By any measure 2016 was an eventful year and whilst these seismic events will no doubt shape many aspects of our lives in 2017, you may not have considered that they will also have an impact on our homes and interiors. In an article by Kevin Peachey for the BBC’s website, called ‘House Price Predictions for 2017’, there seems to be some consensus amongst housing experts that house price rises will slow down with a minority predicting a small fall. The Brexit vote is cited as one factor in this but another was the latest wave of changes to stamp duty which has seen increases across the board peaking at 15% for buy to let or second homes above £1.5m.
Ray Boulger, of John Charcol mortgage brokers, explained that it led to many at the expensive end of the market choosing to extend their homes rather than move. Some interiors experts believe that it will also have an impact on the way we decorate our properties with property owners more likely to reject the beige and neutral colours which are popular when people are selling their homes, and instead plump for bolder and brighter colours.
To an extent this prediction is endorsed by Pantone’s 2017 colour of the year which is called ‘Greenery’ and which they describe as, ‘Fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring…’. (‘Greenery’ images courtesy of Pantone.)
However, some interiors bloggers seem to be steering more towards the continued growth of the smoky greys, blues and greens – exemplified by Dulux’s Colour of 2017, ‘Denim Drift’.
(Denim Drift image courtesy of Dulux)
It’s these predictions that seem to chime well with the experience of our own designers who are meeting with Conquest customers all the time, discussing and sketching out design ideas for their homes.
‘Whilst I am seeing a move towards more use of colour, our clients tend towards seeking something of a classic and timeless look, for furniture that is made to last.’ said Shameen Jivraj, Conquest Designer. She goes on to say,
‘I’ve just finalised colours in a kitchen for a stunning penthouse apartment overlooking the Thames in Central London and their colour choices are right on trend with blue-green-grey cabinets in Farrow and Ball’s Oval Blue room (No 85) and Light Blue (No 22) which will sit with a Light Oak and Jet Black worktop.’
Home technology developments will continue to make an impact in 2017 and our designers expect that the trend for incorporating larger, cinematic televisions – 55” and 65” into bespoke furniture is set to continue, with the spaghetti of cabling being cleverly concealed.
The other significant driver for change in the home in 2017 will be technology and in particular smart home technology. Global tech blogging site ‘Techpinions’ notes that much of the early discussion around smart home technologies focussed on stand alone products. However, the growth in these devices and the bewildering array of technical standards, platforms and connectivity requirements has only led to a rise in issues of compatibility and frustration for users. They predict the growth in new ‘converged’ versions of these products that will combine functionality – perhaps best exemplified currently by Amazon’s Echo or Alexa device.
(Amazon Echo/Alexa image courtesy of Amazon)
It is in fact three devices in one – a voice controlled wi fi and blue tooth speaker; a smart voice assistant called Alexa – capable of answering questions ranging from the weather to train times and finally it’s a smart home controller that can turn devices on and off. Amazon have very cleverly enabled other technology companies to connect to this platform via it’s ‘Smart Home Skill API’ which which could see it turning it into the de facto gateway for smart home technology.
2017 promises to be an exciting year for our homes.
Just another fad or one more welcome Scandinavian import?
Our fascination with all things Scandi seems to be endless. Whether it’s their home styling, their meatballs or their dark crime thrillers, there seems to be no end to the appeal of their fascinating culture.
Hygge – pronounced ‘Hu- gah’ is the latest Scandi import and surely a welcome one at that. A Danish concept which roughly translates to mean all things cosy and which that can be applied to so many aspects of life in the winter. It is a call to slow down and embrace things that help to create a sense of calm and well being this winter.
At home it can be embraced by adopting a calming colour scheme – such as Dulux’s Colour of the Year 2017 ‘Denim Drift’ (painted wall in image) or similar.
(Thanks to Dulux and for the Denim Drift photo.)
Our designers have found that muted tones such as this have become increasingly popular during 2016 and we expect to see more of that trend this year in 2017.
As well as creating a calm, relaxing look for your home this winter, you could also take up a typically hygge-ish activity such as knitting or slow-cooking.
The hygge-ish activity that I think might be particularly popular amongst Brits this winter will be a country walk which concludes with a visit to a welcoming country pub, with an open fire and a delightful collection of ales to choose from …… or is that just me?