Clerkenwell Design week

Clerkenwell Design week

Hello! Welcome to my first blog.

Clerkenwell Design week

The event that everyone is talking about! During May, the Interiors’ team took a trip down to Clerkenwell to check out new brands and trends evolving in the furniture market. The question you are probably asking yourself is “what is it?” And why did I not attend? This is the 9th successful year that the event has taken place in the creative heart of London. CDW celebrates and explores the design industry and is attended by multiple international and UK brands. So if you like design, this is event is for you! #CDW2018


With my paper map in hand (and google maps as backup) I set out to Boss Design where I had a guided tour of their showroom as well as stocking up with freebies (the ultimate perk of being a student drowned in debt). Their showroom was filled with a range of office furniture which highlighted an incoming trend entering the market, that is collaborative workspaces. However, the newest product they were launching called “ATOM” was right at centre stage. Unique, versatile and aesthetically pleasing is how I would personally describe the product. Have a look at the image on the right to see what you can create with ATOM. It was a great opportunity to see the most talked about product in person. That was only the upstairs of the showroom, downstairs paraded all the seating and soft furnishings. They showed me a mixture of new seating entering the market as well as new fabrics and colour palettes on trend.

After finally arriving into London (after the longest ever train journey) I caught the tube to Farringdon, then began my adventure on foot. My first stop was at St James’ Churchyard, here I saw a range of art installations, like the image on the left. The atmosphere in churchyard was filled with energy, excitement, fun and vibrant colours.

Heading back into the 25 degree heat and walking around London in circles for 20 minutes I managed to find OCEE Design. Note to self, next time take more water bottles to prevent dehydration.


Here they revealed the latest tech emerging, which is virtual reality. Let me break it down to those of you who are not tech geeks. It enables you to step into a virtual world that you have designed (i.e. an office) with the aid of VR goggles and you can explore the products in the space. If you didn’t understand that then google it! It is fantastic to see that the 3D design industry is offering new technology for you to present your designs. Being able to experience VR first-hand at OCEE did not disappoint either, it was weird yet great to see that technology like this is even possible. So on to the next showroom!

Connections’ showroom did not disappoint. Trendy and sophisticated are just two words that some it up. Distracted by all the soft seating like the Dixi and Kala chairs, in the spotlight were the collaborative products like Hive, Rooms and the Co-Table. In my opinion the product “Rooms” stood out (see the image below), it has been designed to let users create an informal or formal workspace to either collaborate, socialise or concentrate. Also, I should also mention that the product received the Mixology award in 2017 (you can thank me later Connections).

Yes, it’s that time where I can tell you about Kinnarps (my highlight). Here I met up with the rest of the Interiors’ team (who struggled with the basic task of catching a tube, don’t tell them you know!). I was simply AMAZED by how visually stunning their huge showroom was as soon as I walked in, their whole showroom oozed colour. However it was the product “Fields” that grabbed my attention the most. Such a versatile and unique product that offers the user multiple workspace opportunities. You can probably guess by now what it screams…yes “collaboration”. Fields is a contemporary product that shows what office furniture will look like in the future. This extensive range allows you to create breakout and meeting areas as well as concentration zones. For all those creatives out there, who may be re-vamping their office, pastel green, light grey and light blue are colours that are currently on trend. I could talk and talk about Kinnarps but instead you can look at the pictures I took so you can see how amazing they really are. Shout out to Kinnarps and thanks for the tour of your showroom!

Coming towards the end of a long day we had two more showrooms scheduled (at this point my legs stopped functioning). Our good old friends at Sven invited us down to see their new Ligni range, this collection has adopted the new Scandinavian style. #incomingnewtrend

Last stop Narbutas, finding this underground showroom was not as easy as you think. Narbutas’ most popular range on display was Nova Wood. This Scandinavian influenced design brings your office closer to nature whilst

maintaining a luxurious aesthetic. All the tables in this range have solid ash wooden legs and the table tops include melamine with ABS edging. See the two images at the bottom right to witness how nice Nova wood really is! Pairing wooden finishes with vibrant fabrics is a simple way to make your office modern and contemporary. This combination has been very with our recent projects.

7:43pm and it’s time to catch the train back home to Birmingham (finally relax!). Honestly I’ll say that CDW was a great networking experience for me. I’ve taken so much knowledge and inspiration back with me, it is definitely an event I would recommend. Roll on CDW 2019!

The Game-changing procurement tricks of effective office managers

The Game-changing procurement tricks of effective office managers

Managing office supplies for large companies can be a real headache – a time-consuming balance between keeping all departments fully stocked, while driving down waste and costs. Having worked with leading procurement managers for decades, we’ve collated some of our key insights to help you take control of procurement once and for all.

Start with exceptional customer experience
Great customer experience makes a world of difference. One of the main buying criteria our customers quote comes down to how friendly, upbeat and helpful the account manager is. It’s vital that you truly believe that this account manager has your interest at heart. Ask yourself, if they have really taken the time to understand your needs and pay attention to the details: the routine check-up visits, timely calls, prompt emails and insider advice. It’s the little things that build winning relationship.

Create a comprehensive product list
For the most part, companies order the same products week in week out. For large businesses it’s important to understand your essential requirements and set up a complimentary shopping list which you can return to. Great office managers, learn how to monitor product use and tweak the numbers so there’s always the right amount of the right products. With this in place, you can set up monthly reorders with confidence, and without detailed stock counts. Great office managers take this a step further, and work hand-in-hand with their suppliers to create contract price lists and online shopping lists which can be ordered with a click of a button.

The added-value services
For most procurement managers, it’s vital to pay attention to the terms and conditions of employment from all their suppliers. While rapid delivery might not always seem important, when workload is on hold because you’ve run out of paper, it can make all the difference. Similarly, delivery charges can really add up when making multiple monthly orders. You should also check out the returns policy so you know where you are when receiving incorrect products. This can save you untold time and frustration later.

Managed reporting
Cost control is at the top of every procurement manager’s agenda. But it’s impossible to take control of the numbers if you don’t know what they are in the first place. Successful procurement managers know that transparent reports make all the difference. The key thing is to understand what you are buying, if it’s necessary or sufficient to the job, and whether or not an alternative would be better. Simply by switching to own brand products of similar quality, companies can save thousands of pounds a year.

The complete supply chain
Going beyond your supplier and understanding the complete supply chain can be significant to companies with a strong Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s important to ask if the product ranges they offer include ethically sourced, sustainable products. Look out for accreditation such as FairTrade and Rainforest Alliance and choose your product selection accordingly.

The all in one business services supplier
One of the key issues procurement managers face is managing and controlling multiple procurement needs. Having a single-source provider that can source your stationery, catering, facilities, furniture, print and technical needs can really help you streamline operations. This will save countless hours searching for the products you need and administrating all the contracts and invoices that go with them. Better still, it gives you greater control in managing supplies and deliveries, too.

For more information about managing your business supplies, why not speak to Ian Smith Group. Our procurement experts are more than happy to help.

7 Vivid Print Ideas to Maximise your ROI in 2018

7 Vivid Print Ideas to Maximise your ROI in 2018

With all the noise of digital marketing, traditional print has emerged as one of the modern marketer’s most effective tools. According to the Rochester Institute of Technology, it now yields an average 13-to-1 return on investment (ROI) ratio. The question is: how can you make sure your print gets noticed? Here are 7 innovative print trends for 2018.

Stay in touch with visual trends
Remarkable design comes before all else, giving your brand an identity while demanding attention from your customers and prospects. With that in mind, staying on trend with modern design shows you’re ahead of the curve. This year double exposure, duotone images, gradients and colour fonts are must-have design features. What’s more, Pantone has named Ultraviolet its Colour of the Year for 2018 and 80s-style graphics are making a comeback. Try bringing some of these elements together to show that you’re a leading force.

Formats that don’t just fit in
Remember that A5 flyer that dropped into your letter box last week? No? That’s probably because the designer hadn’t considered the many remarkable formats now available. Try experimenting with a unique form that evokes wonder as it opens and unfolds like origami. Or opt for an unusual shape that complements the design, like simple rounded corners, a jagged edge, or a stencil cut out which makes for an enticing window inside.

Quality that needn’t shout
The tactile feel of the material (known as stock) can make all the difference. Weighty print with a quality matte or satin finish feels great between fingers and thumbs. On trend right now is the rustic recycled look. But if you want to make a real impression, you could consider using multiple types of stock within your print. Heavy card on the outer cover mixed with a range of stock on the inside gives your print a unique look which is bound to get talked about.

The personalised touch
These days, printers are able to personalise every element of print with your customers’ names and details. By using a dynamic printer, you can incorporate your recipients favourite colour, word, or image into the actual design – all this as part of a fully automated process. This opens up a whole new world of targeted print marketing which allows you to segment your customers and reach out to them with a personal touch. Customisation has been shown to enhance ROI on every marketing channel. Why not try it with your print?

It’s all in the finish
If you want your literature to light up like a beacon, anything’s possible. Right now, there are an incredible range of print finishes to delight in. Spot UV ink may cost a little more at the printer, but their vivid, glow-in-the-hand colours practically guarantee a reaction. Another brilliant technique is foiling, which can give your print a shiny, metallic feel that catches the light. The crinkled foil touch is particularly dazzling. You can even ask for an embossed finish, giving your print a 3D effect that you can’t help but touch.

Bridging the digital gap
Once a joke, it seems that QR codes are making a comeback. While, they now come in various new guises, such as Snap Codes, Spotify Codes and Messenger Codes, they essentially do the same job (albeit with a little more style). This makes the leap between print, web and purchase seamless.

More exciting is the development of print Augment Reality (AR). Companies are already experimenting with designs that literally come to life under the watchful glare of a smart phone – providing additional information, videos and even games. Here’s to the future!

Test your print performance
Testing the effectiveness of your print marketing is easier than ever. By driving customers to certain landing pages on your website you can pull off simple analytics to see how effective your campaigns have been. The same technique can be used when offering a deal with an associated order code. Simple techniques like this can be used with A/B testing. This lets you trial two variations of the same campaign and compare the results. By doing this, you will be able to see which campaign has provided the best ROI then tweak it the next time round.

There’s no doubt that print is an exciting place to be right now. With so many creative options to consider, building a beautiful brand with effective sales materials seems like a no-brainer. However, stitching all the elements together isn’t easy. Get in touch with Ian Smith Design & Print, your experts in print and design for the latest advice, ideas and techniques today.

The 3 Things to Consider when Purchasing School Furniture

The 3 Things to Consider when Purchasing School Furniture

When it’s time to start looking for new school furniture, it’s important to start with a plan. Knowing how to get the most bang-for-your-buck is important to your budget, but buying smart is the key to getting the value you need. Not only will this help you get the most out of your teachers and your pupils, it will also set the right impression for visitors and stakeholders. Read our 5 simple purchasing lessons and discover how to take back control of procurement.

Set the Mood
Setting the right mood can make or break a class from the moment pupils walk in. For that reason, it’s important to consider what impression your school environment is giving. If you’re looking to stimulate creative thought, bright and funky furniture can work wonders. Then there are those lessons when all you really want is a bit of focus and concentration. Here, a more traditional set up with comfortable, ergonomic furniture will do the job.

It’s also important to give the pupils time to kick back, relax and refresh both bodies and minds. Consider how a cosy breakout area could help pupils socialise and recoup between those energetic lessons.

Why not think about the colour and style of your furniture? Do they match your school brand and portray that consistent look of quality and modernity that you are trying to achieve? Try to see the environment from the perspective of your pupils and think how each area could help them perform at their best.

Exploring Flexibility
Anyone who has taught a lesson understands the need to switch up the classroom layout. When it’s time to huddle together and work as a single team, you’ll want to create a central hub of desks and chairs. If you need a little individual attention, the old-school set up of desk rows does the trick. There are times when you will want to create sparks in small teams that nestle together. Then others when you want pupils to wake up, get on their feet, move around and interact.

Whatever your schedule, adapting classroom layout is a great way to ensure motivation from start to finish. And yet, dragging around clunky and fragile furniture can be a real obstacle. Here are a few things to consider:

• Purchase chairs that stack and tables that interlock to make the most of your classroom space.
• Buy light-weight alternatives, like plastic seats. These are both highly durable and extremely mobile.
• Consider furniture with coasters, making it easy to slide between one set up and the next.

    For more ideas on classroom flexibility, take a look at the Candy range of furniture.

Making the most of your space
The modern classroom has a dilemma to solve. On the one hand, you need plenty of equipment to stimulate creativity and motivate pupils. On the other, there’s nothing more distracting than a room full of clutter. As teachers know all too well, striking the right balance is key. However, a little smart-thinking when it comes to storage and space planning can really tip the scales in your favour.

The first thing to think about is how does your storage solution facilitate class organisation? Does it allow teachers and pupils to set up and tidy classrooms with ease? A well-organised classroom should work alongside stock control, helping to keep the right equipment in the right places.

One of the best features about modern storage solutions is that they often combine two functions in one. From the partition wall that doubles up as a bookshelf, to the table that’s also a treasure chest of educational props, you can pack big ideas into the smallest of spaces. You might also consider the mobile storage solution. A workstation on wheels can be rolled from one classroom to the next, meaning you can share a single set of resources throughout the whole school.

    For more space saving ideas, visit the website here.

The classroom has come a long way in recent years. Staying ahead of the trends by building progressive environments can really help you nurture forward-thinking teachers and pupils. By thinking long-term, these solutions can even help you save money and meet educational targets. Why not speak to specialists, Ian Smith Education, and discover a better way to procure school furniture.

You only get one chance to make a first impression…

You only get one chance to make a first impression…

You know what they say…you only get one chance to make a first impression, and we are firm believers in this!

Your reception area is a perfect place to showcase your company so the Ian Smith team at West Brom have treated themselves to a brand spanking new reception area to welcome our customers. After installing so many new and fantastic reception areas and office re-fits we were getting far too jealous and knew it was about time we spruced up our own. And haven’t we done just that!

Our main design aim was to ensure that the space was transformed into a welcoming, exciting and stimulating space – whilst remaining relaxing, optimistic and a practical meeting point. We knew we wanted the design to reflect our identity and personality, after all, it instantly tells our visitors and reminds our employees who we are and what we stand for.

We want the customer to feel like they are a part of our company, instantly at ease and comfortable – not sitting on out of date, dull and uninspiring furniture whilst staring at our old trade counter.

You, our Customers, are part of our brand and you have helped us build our identity and we therefore hope you enjoy the new space and see how everything, from the splashes of colours on the walls and the fantastically textured (and practical!) flooring, is a reflection of our approach and values.

Our Reception desk is a beautiful bepsoke piece of furniture and we hope to inspire you with our stylish, modern, mis-matched seating which is creatively shaped and most certainly unique! This area also includes the ‘Smith’ chair (I wonder why!) and the amazingly comfortable ‘Columbus’ sofa by ‘Connections Seating’. We invite you to come in and pick your favourite and join us for a coffee any time.

You may also find your eye drawn to the piece of typographic wall art, created by our talented in-house Graphic Designer. We then simply printed the artwork onto a self adhesive vinyl and had the simple task of attaching it to smoothly to the wall… Let’s just say that a half an hour task took Adam and Nicole almost six hours to get right! However, we got there in the end and the artwork announced our quietly confident motto: “Welcome to the HQ of the best office supplies company in the world (Just ask our customers!)” and from the second you walk in the door, we hope you’ll agree.

100% Design

100% Design

During September our Interiors Team popped down to London Olympia to visit the 100% Design Show, we’d like to share their adventure with you and tell you all about the inspirational things they encountered. After a very early start (what happens when you leave Tony in charge of travel arrangements and which Adam did not appreciate) the guys arrived down in London. Having been momentarily separated when Adam was a bit over eager and squeezed onto a packed tube train, leaving Tony at the platform, they were re-united and made their way over to the impressive Olympia Arena for the opening day of this years 100% Design Show.

The arena was buzzing when the guys arrived and after a quick heads-up tour they made their way over to the Steelcase stand where Serena Borghero the EMEA Marketing Communications Manager gave a fascinating insight into humanising workplaces and bringing new life to the work arena. After the inspirational speech, the guys made their way over to see their colleagues at Boss Design, the guys at Boss were as welcoming as always and engaging as ever as they talked us through their beautiful Coza seating range and the exciting new Marnie range. The Coza really is like no other task chair we’ve ever seen! The visual impact is just stunning with a single organic ribbon that sweeps from under the seat, through the arm and over the backrest. In addition the colour options on the Coza offer an aesthetic unlike anything else, we absolutely loved the Azure Blue finish and having the option of either a 5 or 4 star base is again something really different. We cant wait to show this off in our Showroom soon…watch this space!
The afternoon session started with a couple of familiar faces when the guys bumped into their friends from Narbutas Furniture Company, after a good catch up the guys were on their way again. First stop was the ERGO Aircharge stand, what man doesn’t enjoy a bit of technology! The guys on stand were excellent, talking through their current range which we’re now happy to announce is on display in our fabulous Showroom and is available to buy with immediate effect. The guys on stand also enthused over their Koncept lighting range, talking through the elegant Equo LED multi level dimming lamp, the award winning z-bar desk lamp and another for the gadget lovers…the tono LED mood light.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent working their way from stand to stand grabbing as much info as their bags could carry, from the beautiful and barely believable Fake Landscapes stand to the Nowy Styl Group Play & Work range where we saw some really nice touches on how to bring vibrant colours into the workplace (the saffron, cashmere, atlantic and vino mfc finishes were really eye catching) and using innovative ideas to make use of wasted office space for soft seating such as corner areas and on top of storage cabinets. The reps on stand gave a fascinating insight into how arranging an office space can help employees flourish, support communication and positively impact an employees’ well being and efficiency.

There was also a touch of the ‘weird and wonderful’ on the Peska Seating stand with their range of Balance chairs. Not one for those amongst us who struggle to balance on their own two feet….these innovative chairs provide a unique combination of an office chair and a balance ball! Sound weird? You’d be right! Never has sitting down on a chair been such a challenge! After a few moments of ‘wind-milling’ arms and flailing legs, the chairs proved to be really comfortable, definitely one for the forward thinkers and gym bunnies of the world.

The day was brought to an end with sleep filled train journey arriving back in Birmingham at 9:15pm, long day but a great day giving the guys some fresh ideas and inspiration.

Introducing our new image…and name!

Introducing our new image…and name!

Introducing our new image…and name!
After months and months of hard work, group discussions, agreements (and some disagreements!) we have recently unveiled our refreshed brand identity and are excited to introduce a whole new look and feel to Ian Smith and we hope you love it!

We’d like to take the time to explain a bit about what lead us to this change and what it means for our customers, partners and the Ian Smith team.

Our new logo isn’t just about nice colours and playful fonts, we hope that it defines an identity and that the story will resonate and serve as our brand criteria. Ian Smith has evolved significantly since the start of our journey 47 years ago – for a start, we are so much more than just an office supplies company and our new identity marks the start of our next chapter, moving away from ‘Ian Smith Office Supplies’ to IAN SMITHGROUP. We’ve got a young, strong, creative team forming five different divisions and our logo just didn’t feel like ‘us’ anymore. We pride ourselves on being utterly passionate about what we do and we weren’t convinced that this was reflected through our previous branding – the new identity is all about expressing the personality and diversity of the IAN SMITHGROUP and everyone that works here – we think it is more representative of who we are today – passionate, energetic and fun.

Just a quick note on our divisions – some of them have changed in name very slightly but they are all still encompassed by the Ian Smith Group.

‘Ian Smith Office Supplies’ has become IAN SMITHOFFICE, this is because we continue to cover all of your supply needs but now offer much more such as in-house print and recycling solutions. Along a similar vein, our Ian Smith Workplace Supplies division will now be known as just IAN SMITHWORKPLACE.

‘Ian Smith Office Interiors’ and ‘Ian Smith Printing’ has had much investment over the past few years and we’ve welcomed many new members to the team who have vast experience in their own areas. For this reason we now enjoy working on a whole range of commercial interiors, not just offices so it is only right we take this opportunity to rename this division to IAN SMITHINTERIORS. Following the expansion of our print team ‘Ian Smith Printing’ will now be known as IAN SMITHDESIGN&PRINT meaning we are pleased and excited to offer our customers a full design service along with their printing needs. We are confident this makes life easier for everyone – us included!

It is important to mention before we sign-off, that all of our staff and the company directors remain the same and there is no change within our company from that pint of view. Ian Smith’s is still the same friendly bunch of people as it has ever been and that will long continue, we wanted to show you what else it is we do that makes our company so great. Thanks for reading.