Our magazine of moving
ideas for changing times

issue#10

Ideas for working out at home - page 3

Fall in love with TechTalk - page 5

Thoughts on navigating the pandemic  - page 14

Sharing a brighter outlook...

Welcome once again to the 10th edition of the View and thank you for taking the time to read our look at the market and its associated influencers.

In this edition, we take time to look at the current housing market and what influencing factors affect the trends and directions of this sector. I think we would all agree that the housing market and the KBB sector will continue to go hand in hand in the future despite the current situation. I hope you find this article useful and the outbound links it contains so as to add to your existing knowledge on this topic.

In the technical section, we are highlighting our upcoming activity surrounding our jigs and machinery offers via our online shop, I would encourage you to keep an eye out for issue 11 coming in a few weeks which will continue some seasonal offers to help you improve your production accuracy using guaranteed and trusted Blum equipment.

Although looking into the future is difficult at the moment I think the article by Linda Parker on ‘Futures’ is a great introduction into trends that may affect our furniture design thought process over the coming 12 months.

All in all the idea behind this magazine is to give our readers a view into the outside world on a regular basis, and I hope these articles achieve that goal.

I hope you and your families continue to stay safe in the coming weeks and we at Blum look forward to the day in the future when we can talk face to face again. All the best.

Cover image: courtesy of PWS see their article page 6

Stuck in? Why not work out?

In the last issue we covered ideas on how to tackle the next twelve months with a resolve to make things happen. From feedback, we know that we could all do with a physical boost so in this View we’re focusing on keeping you fit! When taking on any kind of exercise regime one of the most important things is to find a way of working out that suits you. We’ve explored a few options.

Health experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week – around 20 to 30 minutes a day. In addition it is important to do strengthening and balance exercises at least twice a week. The NHS offers some practical help in these areas with 3 videos to get you pumping, toning and stretching.
Watch NHS Videos

Not everyone likes the idea of the gym (even when we are allowed to go to them). So if you have very little time and no equipment but want to follow a comprehensive programme here are some fitness routines, again from the NHS, that are simple, quick and great to do at home. You might even achieve a physique the likes of which Joe Wicks would be proud!
Watch NHS Videos

If the confines of your home just don’t suit you, government guidelines permitting of course, there are lots of ways for people to get active outside. Our Parks is one example. It’s traditionally a free outdoor fitness initiative targeting inactive people in local communities and giving them easy access to good, fun, exercise. While they have had to swap to an online method to comply with current guidelines, we are looking forward to seeing what they get up to when larger public gatherings are possible again. This video tells some of the story behind what the Parkers (residents) across 6 boroughs in London are doing in their local parks.

‘IT’ small word, big impact!

Hello, my name is Mark Rider, for the last 31 and a half years I’ve been the IT Manager at Blum UK. With my colleague Joanna Livingstone, we cover all hardware, software support, communications and training for internal and external staff.

Well, what a year 2020 was! Who knew we’d start it preparing to replace our trusty 20-year-old Navision system and end it with a Virtual Christmas Party on Zoom.

Changing from an established software package would have been stressful enough had we all been in the office. Let alone having to use it in isolation, in a familiar, yet at the same time unfamiliar working environment and in most cases, on a device never used before! Add to that the expectations that people know what a VPN or a Virtual Desktop is and how to connect to them, as well as having the challenge of functioning with a slower broadband speed or poor mobile phone signal at home. We asked a lot from our staff and, as always, they delivered. If that wasn’t challenging enough, at the end of November, we changed our Customer Relationship Management system. Looking back over the years, there have been plenty of challenges, but as a company we’ve adapted to overcome them. It’s what we do; it’s in our Blum DNA.

And what about the future? On a work level, we will continue to support and train our users regardless of their location, if their webcam is on or off and if they’re fully clothed or in their pyjamas! We’ll also be looking to improve our processes: as Tesco tells us “Every Little Helps” so even small changes can add to the Customer Experience.

On a personal level, I miss live music and football (in that order). It’s been over a year since I last went to a concert and with a Gary Numan tour rumoured for May/June, I have my fingers firmly crossed that the vaccine is rolled out and I can, once again, stand in a venue.

Mark Rider is the IT Manager for Blum UK. Mark started his Blum journey back in August 1989, after 4 years with Hardex Fittings Ltd (the original agency for Blum).

His fun fact is that had Clive Sinclair not produced affordable home computers back in the early 80’s he’d probably have joined the army!

Contact him: info.uk@blum.com
Blum UK Main Office: 01908 285700

Written by Kevin Souter

 Who in technical will be your valentine?

Valentine’s day is just around the corner and we want to let any lost fitters know there is someone here at Blum for them. Among our Technical team we have a chippy, plumber, engineer, and even an ex-police officer. Find your perfect match for support this Valentine’s Day...

PETER SHARRATT
Pete is a fine carpenter; he loves riding his bikes and exploring the countryside. When he is not delivering product training, he can be found on our LIVE SUPPORT app looking for a 5-star review. Warning he will use up all your tea bags!
Favourite Product: POCKET DOOR, he can’t wait to get his hands on one.
DAVID GRANT
Dave loves football but not as much as his dog. What’s more, he can fit in to confined spaces with ease which is great for fitting hinges or getting a good view for planning kitchen cabinets. Unfortunately, he is a Chelsea supporter.
Favourite Product: Dave loves them all equally, they are like his children.
MATTHEW GLANFIELD
With a love of camping and being the proud owner of all the survival gear you could need, making Matt the perfect partner for a Zombie apocalypse. There was one incident with an axe, but we don’t talk about it.
Favourite Product: Cabinet Configurator and EASYSTICK.
RUSSELL GREEN
With a passion for landscaping and all things practical, some people say he is the spit of Robert Llewellyn - you know Kryten from Red Drawf. He likes keeping his fitness up and he has a caravan, so free holidays all round.
Favourite Product: AVENTOS HK Top.
KEVIN SOUTER
He is very hands on, using them frequently for putting drawer samples together for our Sales team. Being a Millwall supporter and a little loud, many have heard his customer service skills from the next room.
Favourite Product: The mighty Hinge.
ANDY HOUSE
Keen cyclist, fisherman and actor with a passion for re-enactments. All of this can get very tiring, making his gift to fall asleep anywhere very useful. Andy’s passion for machines will often have him talking customers through every option to find them their perfect match.
Favourite Product: The ultra-reliable MINIPRESS P.

Read our blog here

Save the date for View 11 to find out about our valentines jig and template promotion coming soon to Blum Kit.

Centre of Inspiration

PWS has been running since the early 1900’s from its origins in a Darlington shop under the banner of its founder Percy W. Stephenson & Sons. The business now has the brands Second Nature and 1909 Kitchens to its name and another very popular asset that we explore here.

View spoke to PWS Head of Retail and Commercial Design, Graeme Smith, who started at the company in 2008.

From the 1990’s PWS had a small showroom but the launch of their first Design Centre in 2001 revolutionised things and as Graeme explained to us, they’ve “...continually invested in the concept as the catalogue has grown” since. Today the Northern centre in Country Durham occupies 17,000–18,000 sq ft of space. Two years ago a café was incorporated and in 2016 Kindred bedroom sets were added to complement the existing kitchen offer.

To reflect their nationwide coverage, PWS established a second Design Centre for the South in 2016. This location in Berkshire, conveniently accessible from London, boasts a slightly smaller footprint of 13,000 sq ft.

The main reason for the creation of the PWS Design Centres came from trade exhibitions; valuable insight gained from them suggested the need for something more permanent. “They were the catalyst because it seemed such a shame to lavish so much effort on building them, only to take them down.” says Graeme. These places were born of the need for a tactile experience and the fundamental rationale remains the same; the importance of a physical presence.

The centres play host to a wide variety of events with both calendars usually containing a mix of launches and staff development sessions – third party organisations regularly use the space and the likes of Neff run appliance training days. Graeme calls this the “diversity and energy” which has become the essence of these spaces.

On a daily basis there’s usually a healthy footfall of visitors too. The largest user group by far are independent retailers who don’t have their own showrooms. Graeme is aware that in this context the centres are a hugely valuable resource in helping them introduce their customers to the various product options. Often a retailer will arrange multiple meetings all in one day (Pre-covid). The centres can also work as an extension to an independent retailer’s showroom.

“It’s amazing how the things we display and do here can change perceptions” adds Graeme. “People come in wanting a Shaker and leave with a handless design!”. Products in the pipeline also make an appearance so that feedback can be gleaned and new ideas trialled – that could be previewing new additions to their own collections or things like new storage solutions from Blum.

We talked to Graeme about the unavoidable operating changes this year. Whereas he would normally describe the environment as ‘buzzing’, for much of 2020 the Design Centres were kept open in a limited way with rigidly timed appointments and a strict one-way system. The other major difference was that Virtual Tours were launched at the start of the first national lockdown to coincide with a new website. This innovation has made it possible for users to deliver online consultations to their end customers and allowed some familiarity when it comes to visiting the actual building in the future (and at the end of the first lockdown PWS had quite a waiting list of people wanting to get back in). Graeme notes that the Centres previously had fixed hours of business but “With the virtual tour it’s like now we are open 24/7 and this fits the changing dynamic of how retailers work.”

So what’s on the horizon? Well Graeme tells us it’s really more of the same – significant investment happens all the time. There are regularly one or two updates every twelve months, but there is an exciting ‘big refit’ planned to revamp the Southern Design Centre in line with the North this year.

They never fail to leave having found something that has inspired their project.
Graeme Smith

See the PWS website for Design Centre booking information

As safe as houses...

The last twelve months has been a turbulent time. However, the property world remained open for much of the pandemic and, as a barometer for the financial health of the nation, it continues to look strong. Does this part of our economy offer reasons to be cheerful?

We trawled through the extensive body of data and expert opinion out there for View’s perspective on the state of the market. The knowledge base is massive but we’d like to signpost you to a few sources as a good overview of the current position – leaving you to form your own conclusions on what it could mean for your business.
Knight Frank – 2021 outlook
Knight Frank – January update
Savills – three part outlook

In summary, most pundits agree that 2020 ended on a positive note. There are other indicators that should give us hope and here’s the consensus of all that thinking:
• Residential house prices rose by around 6–7%
• House sales were higher than in the same period in 2019 with mortgage applications up by over 50%
• There’s expected be a further uptick in activity right now to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday in March
• The outlook for the rest of 2021 seems to suggest that market momentum will ease
• The economic impact of lockdown 3, the end of furlough support and extended travel restrictions will make mid-2021 more volatile
• Vaccinations promise to help counteract the negative effects and encourage more activity

You can read a comprehensive report from the real estate specialists CBRE – although published prior to the final Brexit outcome, it does cover lots of helpful insight and statistics across everything from residential to general commercial and hospitality. Also The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors carried out their own research on residential activity last year, which underpins the opinions of other commentators.

Download CBRE Market Outlook

Download RICS Residential Market Survey

Move or improve?

The buying and selling of houses is only half the story though. While one in five brits are looking to make the most out of the recent halt on stamp duty and purchase a new home, 59% have decided to investigate home renovation as an alternative. With an average spend of £6,531 on projects per household, £47 billion could be spent within the UK on the sector throughout 2021. An attitude not limited to our own island. The American home improvement company Lowes released survey results saying 40% of consumers have decided to pick up the own tools while 59% have simply shifted spending since the pandemic towards home improvement.

We look forward to covering this topic as it develops throughout this year.

Half of Brits set to spend £47 billion on home improvements in 2021 (diyweek.net)

Home Improvement – Research and Markets

by Linda Parker

Welcome to 2021

We’re now almost at the end of the first month of 2021 – and we can only say ‘onwards and upwards!’ Whilst we’re all still waiting for life to get back to some kind of normality many people are pressing ahead with plans for home projects and improvements. Colour schemes are still being updated, wallpaper is still being chosen, up-cyclers are still up-cycling and many kitchen, bedroom and bathroom studios are operating on-line and via virtual appointments. So within the bounds of keeping calm and carrying on, here are some of the home and interiors trends we’ll be seeing in 2021.

#cottagecore
Instagram is filled with pics of quasi-quaint cottage-style rooms, many are uncomfortably cluttered and over-full-of-stuff, but it’s a look that’s gaining traction and is achievable. It’s a more homely, colourful, chaotic and comfortable version of the pale neutrals ‘hygge’ palette But we prefer the ‘Rustic Vogue’ label applied by Homes & Gardens!

Yellow & Grey
This was a slightly unexpected trend prediction/Colour of the Year from Pantone, it’s basically a very bright, almost acid yellow – Illuminating – and a staid mid-grey, called Ultimate Gray. There’s a view that many of us thought we’d rather got over grey, and acid brights have been around quite a lot too. However, Pantone enthusiasm is catching, and it’s already cropping up in lots of the latest Spring-Summer 21 interior collections. It’s also a clever way of updating existing grey furnishings and fittings – especially fixed ones, such as kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, flooring and tiles. Add some Illuminating accessories such as stools, splashback, painted walls or wallpaper – perhaps worth considering as a way of adding a shot of ’21 to a pale grey showroom.

1 Poitiers Azure Blue Gloss and Havana Garden tiles – Gemini Tiles from CTD
2 Classic lacquered bare metal finish radiator – Bisque
3 Portofino range cooker – Smeg
4 Henry Holt single lever copper tap – The 1810 Company

Working From Home
A trend that is only set to get bigger as we embark our journey through 2021... home offices will need to be created, streamlined, updated and made efficient. Look out for ways of adapting existing spaces into coherent work areas, or including WFH functionality and convenience into new kitchen-dining-family rooms.

Eco-Friendly & Natural Materials
Be ready to answer questions regarding the use of natural materials for cabinetry and work surfaces, as well as the eco-credentials and energy-efficiency of appliances.

All-Season Outdoor Entertaining
Outdoor entertaining isn’t just for May to September, it’s set to become a regular fixture of our social lives, once we’re allowed to mingle again. Keep the outdoor entertaining comfy and cosy with appropriate supplies of blankets, cushions, outdoor fire-places, fire-pits or heaters – yes it’s possible to be outdoors in early spring and be as warm as toast!

1 Sustainable bamboo storage containers – Curated Pieces
2 Tempus flooring in Harmony, Pause, Sooth and Embrace – Amtico Signature
3 5000 London Grey from the Supernatural collection – Caesarstone

In The Know...
Some of our favourite magazines have made their trend predictions for 2021. Some spot-on definitions can be seen here from Homes & Gardens, which highlights ‘Rustic Vogue’ – a sophisticated take on the popular hashtag #cottagecore. Have a read through Livingetc too, which has an elegant look at ’21 trends, many of which are relevant to hi-spec kitchen designers. Lastly, we really loved the trends pinned down over at Real Homes too, lots of achievable looks and all are relevant to designers who want to capture the look of 2021.

Rotpunkt: Trends for ‘21
Matt Philips, Head of UK Operations, Rotpunkt, talks us through some of their innovative kitchen design trends for 2021

Hybrid Design: As we look to 2021, our relationship with the ‘home’ will continue to adapt and change. The kitchen will remain a key focus for the modern homeowner and hybrid kitchen design is going to be huge – it has to support contemporary lifestyles, which are now increasingly home-centred. For many, our new way of life includes working from home, and has led to new concepts for contemporary kitchens. We’re seeing a demand for high-spec sustainable furniture solutions, designed to facilitate a range of disciplines which include cooking, dining, entertaining, home office and home-schooling spaces with logical and accessible storage.

Up Above: Canopy-style storage solutions are predicted as the go-to architectural statement this year, helping homeowners optimize their kitchen space by making use of the floors, walls and ceiling. Hero products will include innovative hanging storage suspended from the ceiling, which will add architectural detail, as well as extra shelving space and new planning options for the central island unit and built-in extractor systems. More than ever, logical storage space is vital, using suspended systems can free-up space elsewhere.

Clean Conscience: Our research shows that our clients are eco-conscious, with many considering the manufacture, design and delivery of a product before purchasing. Second generation materials that are recycled, or green/eco-friendly replicas are alternatives to achieve the latest kitchen looks whilst lessening harm to the environment. Laminate solutions are perfect for this, with metal and timber effects becoming the most versatile options when going green in 2021.

Graphic Influence: Can be tracked back to the structural shapes and clean lines of the 1980s, so look out for geometric, block-style furniture. If meticulously planned, this cabinetry will make a feature of horizontal and vertical lines, and can also visually expand the height and/or width of the kitchen space. Linear profiles will play an important role in 2021, influencing furniture with special design elements like notched cabinets, flush-fitting plinths, custom panelling and statement gable ends.

The international design competition, the Red Dot Design Award, is aimed at all those who want to distinguish their business activities through design. Excellent design is selected by expert juries in the areas of product design, communication design, and design concepts – covered by around 50 categories and two metacategories.

There’s a gala event, a Yearbook and dedicated Red Dot Museums displaying the winning pieces. Award-winners also have the privilege of using the winner label in their own communication and marketing materials to elevate their brand among competitors.

The registration phase for the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2021 runs until 19 February 2021.

Download the basic entry details here

or go to their website for more information

Looking back to the future...

from Amanda at Blum Experience Centre

It’s not the destination that counts, but the journey to get there, and it’s not the harvest we reap, but the seeds we sow along the way.

What a journey we have all been on this past year and how forever changed we will be from the experience.

Reflecting on this past year, I found myself in a constant mind set of always looking ahead. Ahead to the end of lockdown, to the end of home working and a return to the office. Ahead to the end of the next phase of government tiers, to the end of the pandemic. Telling myself I’ve just got to get to May, I’ve just got to get to September, just get through Christmas. Things will be better when...

It’s finally dawned on me this year, that there is no point in me waiting for tomorrow, no point making excuses for “around the corner” or “up ahead”, assuming things will get easier or better or they will return to normal in due course. The reality is I just have to live in the moment, control the controllables.

I’m not going to wish this year away like the last, and I’m going to deal with the picture I have in front of me. Just going to accept that there is always going to be change, pandemic or not, and I will be ready to deal with it and jump ahead of it when the time comes.

Planning, strategising, re-organising, and making the most of my time. Using this opportunity to try new things and new ways of working so that when tomorrow does come, myself and my team are in the best possible place to adapt to it. A return to normal... maybe, but let’s hope not, a return to new, exciting, and different... I’m already there.

The physical showroom forever morphed together with the virtual one, it was always going to be a natural progression, and a reflection of our customers’ busy lives and the new ways in which they want to interact with us, the pandemic has just fast tracked us into this future showroom model and there’s no going back.

Blum UK, Mandeville Drive,
Kingston, Milton Keynes, MK10 0AW

Tel +44 1908 285700
www.blum.com