As technology has enabled us to work more flexibly, office furniture has become more multipurpose, less engineered and nicer to look at. An appreciation of good design, led by the likes of Charles Eames and his pioneering chairs, has filtered through to office spaces.
Furniture company Rawside has been leading the charge in this revolution in office aesthetics. “We saw the change that was going on in the design and requirements of offices,” says Richard Gann, its founder. “People want buildings and interiors of interest”. But few players in the office furniture industry, worth a whopping £800 million in the UK alone, seem to have caught up. “The industry hasn’t adapted to what the modern user wants,” says Richard.
Having spent 25 years in the commercial design and furniture business, Richard took inspiration from craft beer and fashion trends when he launched Rawside four years ago, noticing the demand for the locally made, hand-crafted and responsibly sourced. Rawside lives up to its motto “Built in the City”, manufacturing everything at its London workshop in Workspace’s Kennington Park. Prospective customers can come and view furniture in the studio and then go next door to “meet the makers” and see it being built.
Richard has put concern for the environment at the top of Rawside’s agenda. “If you look at the statistics, the amount of office furniture that goes into landfill is frightening,” he says. Although it’s built to last a lifetime, Rawside’s best-selling desk is 100% recyclable, made of plywood, steel and a linoleum product made of linseed oil and paper pulp. The company is about to go through B-Corp accreditation to underscore its sustainability credentials.
In only four years, Rawside has gone from a self-funded start-up with two employees to 30 employees, a £5 million turnover and 25% year on year growth. “We set about in building a business that cares about the environment and designs products that last a long time and that people like. And that's why we're growing so quickly,” says Richard.
Rawside’s office has been based at Kennington Park from the word go. The joinery workshop was originally in High Wycombe, before moving to the old Airfix factory in Earlsfield, another Workspace building. A year ago it moved to Kennington Park, consolidating the company’s activity on to one site.
“Workspace has been great,” says Richard. “We’ve been able to move when it suited us, within reason. They’ve been instrumental in helping us and have used our furniture in numerous buildings across their estate.” Being based at Workspace has brought Rawside into contact with other young companies, many of which have themselves become clients. “We love being around Workspace because you’re working with like-minded people. It’s great that there are so many open common areas. It’s a buzzy atmosphere that’s perfect for SMEs.”
Rawside’s onsite location also means fast delivery and no snags in the supply chain for customers who need to move into Workspace in a hurry. “We can deliver very quickly as we’re close by and we hold stocks of things so we can get that customer into their space straight away.”
In the short term, Richard wants Rawside to continue its mission of designing long-lasting products that have as little impact on the environment as possible. Over the next few years, he plans to roll out the “Built in the City” concept to three overseas cities, starting with Frankfurt. The workplace revolution has only just begun.
Looking to deck out your office space? Check out Rawside's range of practical office furniture and get up to 20% off on the WorkspacePerks platform.
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