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As most of you will be all too aware, we get genuinely excited when we discover the arrival of new Clerkenwell residents. So, when leading furniture supplier Wagstaf opened its new showroom in the borough, we were keen to head across and introduce ourselves.

We’re met by Wagstaff’s Design and Marketing Director Michael Selman, as well as a couple of members of the award-winning PENSON team – the team responsible for the design of this fantastic new showspace, which sits in Brewhouse Yard, and was formerly a sizable part of the Koleksiyon showroom.

We begin by asking Michael a little about the background to both the move into Clerkenwell and about Wagstaff itself. ‘I started at Wagstaff back in 2000 – and we were based in Kennington back then,’ Michael recalls. ‘The office space was pretty humble, and we moved to Wembley in 2001, which was, in effect, a turning point for the company as we embarked on making a stronger emphasis on showroom facilities.
‘The company evolved by moving away from one of our core services at that time, reprographics, and invested heavily in office fit-out. Having a strong client base on this side of the business enabled us to steadily grow over the next 10 years, and as fit-out services became more prominent within our offer, we were able to offer a national one-stop-shop service.
‘While historically, we’re known for our furniture, of course, we’re working to change the perception of Wagstaff – as we broaden our reach into the A&D market – and that’s a key reason for the move to Clerkenwell.
‘At this end of the market, people still want to come in and see and feel the products for themselves. Furniture is still the core of our business – it represents about 70% of what we do. This was a big decision for the company – but we want to be part of this bigger ‘family’ and that’s why we turned to PENSON for the design of the space.’

So why PENSON? ‘We wanted something new,’ Michael considers. ‘We are creative people, but we wanted something totally different – a completely different mindset. We wanted someone who would come in and tell us what we needed, who could fill in the gaps for us. ‘The team has come up with this amazing environment. I think it’s different from everywhere else. We’ve had some fantastic comments – and word has really got around now!’

We ask the PENSON-ites to tell us a little more about the process and the challenges here. ‘We had a very short time to do this. We had a few initial meetings to help us understand the business and exactly what they need here. We then went back and brainstormed – we wanted to come up with a concept for them but at the same time design a tool for us because we come into Clerkenwell all the time. We’re the client as well. We’re potentially going to use the space or we’re going to take our clients into the space. That helped us see the space in a different way – and hopefully helps them continue to grow the business with this new concept.

‘Wagstaff’s history is really interesting, and we wanted to emphasise that – to let people know that this is a company you can really rely upon – but there is a smart new image here as well. So when we started the concept it seemed obvious to stick with a really simple black and white scheme – showing the history, but remaining timeless. We then added punches of new technologies and new elements.

‘We’re incredibly fortunate that we’re able to pick most of the projects we work on – and to be totally honest this isn’t the kind of project we normally do. I think Lee has always had a really nice relationship with Wagstaff and this also gave us the opportunity to do a different type of design because we are so focused on workspace.

‘It was a great challenge and what we have done is really different. I was a little bit scared that our presentation would be too much for them – but everything was a tick. We didn’t have to change the design at all.’

‘The old showroom didn’t represent the true direction we were taking,’ Michael sums it up perfectly.

Wagstaff needed a flexible new space that would showcase its products without overpowering the designs. A unique retail experience was the answer, where the view from the outside is just as important as the one on the inside.

Using a system of grids both in the floor and in large metal installations around the space, Lan and the team created framed display areas that didn’t obstruct the open plan flow of the showroom or restrict the content that could be showcased inside, outside or around them.

At the entrance, visitors are met by the intergalactic style reception desk set against that aforementioned monochrome background – which actually hides a huge amount of storage. The team didn’t want anything to be on show other than Wagstaff’s products, which is why everything is smartly integrated into the design to ensure there is no mess in sight. On top of this, the office space at the back of the showroom is hidden behind giant display cases, ensuring that the only thing people are focusing on is that pure Wagstaff offering.

The first room visitors can spot upon entering is the central boardroom, a slick champagne coloured private pod boasting soundproof walls and huge angled sliding doors.

The floor space between the office areas and the showspace is split as evenly as possible, and this is cleverly achieved through the use of a raised platform. As a result, a second meeting room sits directly on top of the first, doubling collaboration space without affecting the size or layout of the showroom.

Exuding more of an industrial feel than its comfy ground floor brother, this meeting space not only ties in with the exposed ceiling to make it feel like you’re in an entirely closed off room, it also acts as a viewing platform to enable visitors to see the entire showroom – and all of its products – clearly from above.

From up here it’s clear to see that the showroom layout has been set up in the style of a lap, flowing from the entrance, through the showroom, round to the samples desk and back out again. The central meeting room allows for an organised flow of visitors, and the inclusion of multiple different elements on the design floor, such as display cases and statement furniture pieces, ensures that there are no dead corners.

The reflective walls throughout the space help it to feel more spacious and clean, and the continuation of the black glitter work surfaces in the communal kitchen, with its mismatched furniture and sparkling silver appliances, adds a hint of futuristic luxury – especially if you sneak into the small hidden meeting room (which we have) complete with giant flat screen TV which occupies almost the entire wall.

The Wagstaff showroom is intended to be a unique one-stop shop for everyone from designers and clients to the general public. The huge windows create a great street presence and the built in technology and services here make it clear that the business has fully bought into both the design and its new Clerkenwell home. Welcome to the neighbourhood.

essential ingredients
Client • Wagstaff Group www.wagstaffgroup.co.uk  
Design • PENSON www.penson.co/

Furniture & Interior Products • Howe, Boss Design, BuzziSpace, Triumph, Koleksiyon, Sedus, Hitch Mylius, Arper, Camira, Lyndon Design,
Colebrook Bosson Saunders, Vitra, Humanscale, Pledge, Narbutas, Verco, Connection, Clarke Rendall, Sixteen3, Frovi, Interstuhl, Komac,
Orangebox, Silverline, Naughtone, Wilkhahn, Cambridge Park, Santa & Cole, Dynamobel


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