An exciting new design hub bringing together smart technology with the best interior furnishing is to be launched in Cumbria. The new centre at Special Spaces in Windermere will be a showcase for top craftsmen and designers, with state of the art home cinema, audio and lighting set into custom built furniture in an ideal-home setting.
The project marks the start of a partnership between two dynamic young companies, smart technology specialists Epixx, and craft furniture creators Lakeland Fells Furniture. They will be joined by award-winning interior designer Alison Tordoff whose Fidget Design furnishings and décor will set off the installations, and glass artist Jo Vincent who is creating a stunning glass kitchen splashback.
A showroom dedicated to kitchen design and individually-made fitted furniture is being extended to create a labyrinth of smart-technology rooms. On one wall, an eight-feet wide home cinema is being installed in a lounge filled with craftsman-built furniture. There’s a built-in cocktail cabinet and a hidden door in a bookcase that takes visitors through to a mini conference centre.
A fold-down bed set into a wall will demonstrate how space can be used, while the sofas will be filled with cushions from Alison’s Love District range – a tribute to the local Lake District landscape. Alison has designed the interior spaces, and John Barraclough at a Sedbergh company, Wools of Cumbria, has provided carpeting made from the fleece of Herdwick and Swaledale sheep.
The partnership was sealed between Andrew Smith, who has been running the Special Spaces showroom and is also hands-on managing director of Lakeland Fells Furniture, and Matt Holmes and Ben Tomlinson of Epixx. Matt and Ben, who say they “live and breathe technology”, needed a location and the furniture to set off their smart home and commercial creations. Andrew’s Special Spaces showroom and hand-crafted furniture – which includes design and manufacturing projects for Windermere Marina Village, the Tower Wood Outdoor Education Centre, and the award-winning Cedar Manor Hotel and Restaurant – proved to be the ideal solution.
Together with Alison and Jo, they embody the mantra of the late Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the personal computer revolution, that “design is not just what it looks and feels like; design is how it works”.
Andrew Smith, whose Lakeland Fells Furniture innovation in design and expertise in production has been providing furniture solutions to domestic and commercial clients for 10 years, set up his business in 2004 to harness the skills of locally trained craftsmen following recognition of increasing demand within the hospitality, commercial and high end domestic sector for the design and creation of bespoke, hand-made quality furniture.
Research by Cumbria Tourism had highlighted the need for the hospitality sector to materially upgrade the quality of accommodation provision available in the Lake District to ensure that customer expectation of a world class visitor destination was not compromised. The demand created for bespoke furniture also highlighted an associated requirement for specialist joinery skills for finishing off installation projects such as bespoke skirting boards, dado and picture rails, architectural mouldings, panelling, hardwood doors and windows.
Four years ago, an extra dimension, Special Spaces, was established to supply and install fitted furniture including fitted kitchens, bedrooms, commercial offices and home studies. Epixx, which will be based at the Special Spaces showroom, are independent consultants and designers specialising in home cinema, HDTV, lighting, music, and smart security.
“It’s an ideal partnership,” said Andrew Smith. “Their equipment fits into our specially designed furniture. They are bringing smart technology to the smart homes that we are furnishing.”
Said Matt Holmes: “We have designed one bespoke interface that’s powerful enough to control everything in a home or commercial environment, and all our systems are designed to be easy to use. Now we will have an ideal location where we can demonstrate just how smart and user-friendly it can be.”
Due to open at the end of September, the design hub will be a showcase for anyone needing home or commercial technology, with items for sale, and where bespoke designs can be ordered.