Episode 3: SHOPS • Interior Design Masters, BBC & Netflix
Introducing creativity and unique flexible storage solutions into an overflowing knitting shop
Week three was the biggest challenge to date. We headed off to Nottingham to transform a selection of shops. In my teams’ case, an overflowing knitting shop!
We finally got to meet a client! The shop owners would be putting their business in our hands – immediately. We had just one week to design, source and prep everything – and only two days to transform the space. The shop would be open immediately for business as soon as we had finished. We could not get this wrong. This design had to work for the client practically as well as appeal to the customer.
Queen of Shops Judge Mary Portas said " It’s graphic. It’s fun. It’s really fun. It feels modern. It feels cool…it looks like an installation.”
BEFORE. The space was over flowing and jumbled
We were each originally told to design interiors for two very different shops but we’d only get to pitch one. The twist? We wouldn’t know which until an hour before we were due to pitch to the client. Not only that, but at the same time, we were unexpectedly told we would be pitching against another contestant. The designer of the client’s favoured design would become project manager – and the competing designer would be the design assistant. Potentially awkward? Yes.
Cassie and I were selected to pitch against each other for the Knit Shop. The client picked my design. She liked some elements of Cassie’s design so it was important to incorporate them and ensure they worked with the rest of the design. I would be project manager and Cassie the assistant. But this was not about egos. We needed to work as a team to win the challenge despite being competitors. Two brains and two pairs of hands are always better than one. I love working in a team and I like it to feel like a team. I ensure that people I work with are empowered and their voices heard, but I am also confident in my judgement and not afraid to make final decisions.
The hardest part of #interiordesignmasters_tv is in the week you don’t see on screen. Finding the right materials, working to super tight budgets, even ensuring everything we needed is in stock and can be delivered on time really matters. We both worked really hard to communicate well, despite being at opposite ends of the country, and to find solutions to tricky problems. I also spent a great deal pre-planning the time-frames and logistics of the transformation and management of trade times. I am super-organised and created endless spreadsheets and diagrams to ensure the project was a success. In a team it’s vital to delegate well. I ensured everyone understood their responsibilities and kept a tight handle on timing so we’d get this massive transformation done on time.
We were told;
The shop needed to feel welcoming and modern for customers who ranged from 16 to 80 year olds.
Functional shelving with alcoves for woollen products.
Creative storage solutions with small cubby holes, open shelving for files and knitting pattern catalogues.
Space for knitting workshops take place inside the store so that 6-12 people could sit around a table while they craft.
Area for customers to look through knitting patterns.
Updated till area for display and to hide the clutter.
Additional storage wherever possible.
2 days transformation
I wanted to take something cosy and old fashioned like knitting, and inject a contemporary and vibrant feel to it. I was also keen to take a more innovative approach to the brief of the alcove storage to display the textures and colours. I came up with the concept of tubes as shelving. I am known for graphic shapes and working in grids. But I also love circles. I decided that circular storage would bring the shop up to date and form a memorable feature in the shop. This knitting shop would be unique! It was also a cost-effective solution. Most importantly the tubes were a flexible solution to how the client worked with her stock. The tubes sat within the framework and were held securely in place by the pressure of the neighbouring tubes. However, when the client wanted to move her stock around, (which she did seasonally), she could simply pull out a tube, with all the wool inside, and slot it in elsewhere. She would no longer have to empty cubby-holes and refill them! Clever storage is all about making life easier.
There were a lots of other challenges in this episode. The sheer volume of 20,000 plus balls of wool to house was just for starters! The client wanted as much stock as possible out on the floor. It was already overflowing so a key part of the brief was to organise, and house all of these plus have additional space for MORE and also hidden storage too.
Another hurdle was finding a way to chop down the tubes on-site to the correct lengths. This had to be done on-site due to the varying wall depths. We had ordered 60 x 8ft long cardboard tubes. They would not fit in a normal chop saw. Fortunately we had an incredible trades team. They set up a fantastic rig to be able to proceed. It nearly held us back but we got the results we needed!
The flooring was another huge challenge. The current carpet was tired and needed replacing. However the floor was so uneven and would need levelling first. To put a laminate floor down was just not an option due to lack of time. The biggest stroke of luck was when we uncovered a floor of OSB board which is a plywood material. The utilitarian look and durability of it worked well with the craft ethos. We were thrilled. It is such a joy when you unexpectedly uncover something that actually adds to your design. It is always good to be opened minded in what you can work with in your design.