DESIGNING FOR A HIGH-END MARKET
SPACE talks to Richard Bellamy, Managing Director of Contract Furniture Group to find out more about the company and their plans for the year ahead.
Can you tell us a little about Contract Furniture’s background and origins?
I spent years working in hospitality and leisure venues in the Midlands, which gave me a great understanding of the specific needs of different venues to connect with their clientele. The need to stay up-to-date with the latest furniture trends, but take into account the cost of doing so is key, and I learnt this quickly. Working in venue’s was a massive opportunity for me, so I began sourcing and supplying high quality furniture that people could purchase at a cost-effective price. Since then, we have built up nearly 20 years’ experience within the industry working with all sorts of different venues and destinations, such as hotels, pubs, bars, restaurants and holiday parks.
How do you think furniture trends have changed in the last five years and are there any new trends emerging in furniture design or production specifically for hospitality?
Over the last few years venues have begun paying closer attention to the design of their fixtures, fittings and furniture. Previously, venues were much more focused on the price and functionality, and whilst these are still important considerations, having a clear vision of what the space will look like in the end, right down to the fine details, is now the driving force when choosing everything from lights to bespoke bars. As a result of this design-focused approach, hotels are beginning to favour a more high-end, opulent appearance that stands out with their guests, moving away from classic pieces such as traditional upholstered chairs. Instead, we have faux leather looks and curved back models in very high demand as hotels begin to invest significantly in interior styling.
What do you think influences the change in furniture trends?
Every hotel has its own distinct style, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for the furniture, meaning we see a wide range of different requests. However, we often see trends being influenced by the designers working with household name hotels in the sector. These can often have a massive influence on the rest of the industry. If a design choice proves a success, other venues and smaller hotels will begin to take notice and wonder if this will work with their design ideals and guests. Many may then look to adopt and take inspiration from these trends, so it is crucial we stay on top of these design choices to advise hotels on how to wow their clientele.
What is the most important aspect for you when providing furniture to big hospitality brands?
Ensuring that the customer is happy with the furniture and the service they receive is our ultimate goal when working with any venue. It is key that we understand their furniture and design needs perfectly so we can provide pieces that match the intended aesthetic, whilst also successfully fulfilling the necessary function. This is where our in-house design services play a crucial role, as it means we are there to help with as much of the project as the customer needs. It allows us to support hotels with the entire implementation, rather than merely supplying the furniture.
What sets Contract Furniture Group apart from the competition?
We pride ourselves on being more than just a regular furniture supplier. We like to work with venue’s every step of the way, whether that be through simply supplying the furniture or designing a space from scratch. Our in-house design services mean we have the expertise to help hotels bring their design vision to life and then find the furniture to match with our extensive range of chairs, sofas, tables and bespoke fixed seating. Alongside our collections is the ability to customise the pieces in a variety of different finishes to fit any style. Aside from our furniture and design offerings, we are proud to have been one of the first UK importers and manufacturers to offer alternative filling and coverings for our furniture, as well as manufacturing our chairs with sustainably sourced timbers. Venues can rest assured that when they buy from Contract Furniture they will receive a sustainable, high quality piece that can suit any design and budget.
Can you tell us about your current ranges and what’s new for 2019?
It’s going to be a big year when it comes to new products. We already have an extensive collection of furniture ranging from upholstered and semi-upholstered chairs to industrial and French bistro inspired pieces, and we will be stepping up our offering in the coming months. We’re setting our sights on adding 250 brand new products to our range over the course of the year, so we can continue to match ongoing purchasing trends. Gone are the days when there was a standard range of a few chairs in set colours, we now need to have the variety to create bespoke options for each venue. With more venues wanting a high end looks, we need to respond to this with even more high-end pieces, such as adding more curved back chairs that add a sophisticated touch with their design. As a result of this, we will also be adding to our extensive options of fabrics and materials to help create the perfect chair for any hotel.
What’s in the pipeline for Contract Furniture over the next year and where can we keep up to date with the latest news?
Aside from the new products set to join our collection in 2019, we’ll be out and about at trade shows across the country, starting at The Source in Exeter which kicks off on 6th February. We’ll also be attending the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show as well as the Restaurant Show at Olympia London later in the year. We’re really excited to be getting out, meeting people and further expanding the work we are doing with all types of venues.