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9th Jun 2022

GARDEN WILDLIFE WEEK

GARDEN WILDLIFE WEEK

It’s Garden Wildlife Week! And to celebrate, At Black Sofa we’re talking about rewilding, and some really great landscape rewilding projects we think you should visit…

 

For most of modern history the conversation around human impact on the planet has mostly revolved around climate warming, melting ice caps and rising sea levels. Yet it was rarely mentioned that the ground under our feet is an equally important resource that failing to protect, could affect humanity at an even quicker rate than climate change. The latest prediction from agrologists is that continuing current agricultural practices would lead to completely infertile grounds globally in the next 40-50 years. Meaning if we dont change our ways, we may only have 40 harvests left!

So where did the term originate and what is its purpose?
The principles of “Rewilding” have been around for many years, but have perhaps been brought to most people’s attention through the brilliant documentary “kiss the ground” on netflix a few years ago. The premise of which is agriculture; which has been evolving for thousands of years. With each iteration becoming more intensive and reliant on chemicals and fertilizers. The earlier methods of farming involved leaving fields fallow (unused) after a few years of produce so as to let the earth replenish its nutrients.
With populations having exploded since the industrial revolution – we are now adding an extra billion to the global population every 13 years, so it’s clear that with less available land in which to grow the crops, the pressure to increase harvest yields are at an all time peak. However with the more intensive farming practices and reliance on fertilizers and chemicals we are rinsing the earth of all its natural nutrients and also killing vast swathes of the insect and animal populations. If you factor in the fact that the bee population has more than halved since 1950, you realise that we are facing a crisis of our own making
So what can we do to help?
This is where rewilding comes in. In the simplest terms: We need to give the earth a rest periodically to allow it to replenish its nutrients. The soils nutrients are essentially the “fuel” for plants and crops to grow. This is mostly done by allowing an area to return to the wild and grow naturally. This not only allows the soil to replenish but also provides a natural environment for all sorts of insects and animals including Bee’s, which are so vital to our survival.
As Jeremy Clarkson (of all people) recently opined, that during the 80’s and 90’s driving down the motorway, the windscreen would inevitably be covered in splattered bugs and insects due to the sheer numbers of them. Now you are lucky (or unlucky for the bugs) if you see one bug on your windscreen. Whilst wasps, midges and flies don’t get the best rep for constantly swimming in your drink at the pub, they do also provide an invaluable service to the planet and our future on it.
Where can I go to see some rewilding projects and what effects can they have on local habitat’s?

River Otter, Devon
Beavers and otters, which are ‘keystone species’ that can positively impact biodiversity and water quality, were reintroduced to the UK in 2009 after an absence of around 500 years, in the Knapdale Forest, Argyll, and into an enclosed area of East Devon’s River Otter. Since then, more have appeared elsewhere on the river, altering the natural environment and providing new habitats for other species to thrive.

Blean Woods, Kent
Partnering with the Wildwood Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust will import and release European bison at a former pine wood plantation near Canterbury. Like beavers, this keystone species is an ecosystem engineer that helps rewild woodlands. The bison will be introduced to their new home in spring 2022, and after settling into a fenced area, the site will open to the public.
What effects can this have on the local environment?
For thousands of years upto the bronze age, Britain was covered in woodland (which was subsequently cleared for agriculture during the bronze and iron ages) and were inhabited by bears, wolves, bison, otters and beavers. Further back Britain was even connected to mainland Europe through the ‘doggerland’ passage in Norfolk, ironically allowing free movement of animals across Europe.
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So rewilding habitats with original animals can have some incredible effects on the local flora, fauna and environment as outlined by the famous Yellowstone Park Wolves Video.
Find out more about Garden Wildlife Week here – https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/garden-wildlife-week-2022/
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Written by Kerry Brown
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3rd May 2022

NATIONAL GARDENING WEEK: 3 GARDENS TO VISIT THIS SUMMER.

NATIONAL GARDENING WEEK: 3 GARDENS TO VISIT THIS SUMMER.

It’s National Gardening Week! And to celebrate, we’re sharing with you some of our favourite gardens in the U.K. that we think you should visit this summer!

 

National Gardening Week is held between 2nd and 8th of May and is run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to raise awareness of gardening and horticulture, and to encourage more people to take part in the healthy and productive outdoor activity of gardening.’

 

Kew Gardens (Kew, West London)
Kew is the jewel in the RHS’s crown and one of the most beloved gardens in the UK, and handily situated in West London for those not looking to trek too far out of the capital for a great attraction.

The botanical Gardens at Kew were founded in 1840 and house the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world, boasting more than 50,000 living species and a further 8.5 million preserved plant and fungal specimens. The picturesque UNESCO World Heritage site spans 330 acres taking in Kew House, The River Thames, a host of beautiful lakes, tree-top walkways, giant pergoda’s, japanese gardens and a variety of green houses containing some of the most rare and beautiful collections of plants in the world. David Attenborough uses these for a number of his nature shows.

 

 

 

 

Lost Gardens of Helligan (Nr Penzance, Cornwall)
“Anyone who has ever read the book or watched the movie: The Secret Garden will be able to relate to this story. In the early 19th Century: Heligan, a thousand acre estate near Mevagissey, Cornwall was at its zenith. A monumental 16th century gardenesque style walled garden and grounds. Sitting on the temperate peninsula fed by the warming Gulf Stream, which provides the perfect conditions for growing some of the many tropical plants brought back from abroad by traders and explorers during the last 400 years such as Dicksonia Antartica (tree ferns) from Tasmania, Gunnera Manicata from Northern Brazil which combine to form sprawling tropical rainforest like conditions within the borders of the UK.

With the outbreak of WW1, most of the local men went away to fight the war including the custodians and gardeners of the estate, with many sadly not coming home. The estate was left to disrepair until a chance encounter in 1990 when a secret gate was discovered with the message etched into the stone arch “Do not come here to sleep or slumber: August, 1914” signed by all the groundsmen. The grounds were left unattended to overgrow for nearly 80 years until a team of local volunteers led by the now world renowned Tim Smit (The Eden Project) prised their way in and spent the next decade cutting back, pruning and restoring the gardens to their original splendour.

The 80 years of un-capped growth has led to some enormous rhododendrons and camelia’s some of which are over 200 years old. They also fully restored the house walled veg and salad gardens which incorporates an ingenious 16th Century compost heating system which is piped into the large original greenhouses and cold frames to provide heat during the winter to some of the tropical fruits and veg again mostly brought back from the tropics centuries ago.

The lost gardens of Heligan is my favourite garden in the UK as it is local to where I am from, contains probably the best tropical collection in the UK and the fact it has been left to re-wild for 80 years provides a unique resonance to the incredible story behind the gardens and the sympathetic restoral project led by the dedicated volunteers. A true national treasure!”

Hever Castle (Near Sevenoaks, Kent):
A great day trip for all those looking for a day out of London. Hever Castle was built in 1270 and has had many owners since then including Ann Boleyn’s family and more recently the Waldorf Astor’s who have invested a huge amount of time and money restoring the castle and its outstanding gardens to the original splendour that their original designers intended.

The gardens encircle a huge and picturesque lake which faces the property and supplies many hidden creeks and tributaries which are a perfect place for a quiet picnic. The lake is headed by a grand pillared open atrium which in turn leads to some incredible rose gardens and alpine gardens which lead to the main house taking in a number of beautifully crafted bridges. If you have time afterwards do head to the Henry VIII pub about 100m away. It is an incredibly beautiful medieval pub that does fantastic food.

 

 

Images: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kew-gardens-plant-signs-will-acknowledge-links-to-slavery-wktdk5hfv

https://www.hevercastle.co.uk/visit/gardens/history-hever-gardens/

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29th Mar 2022

ARCHITECTURE OF THE WEEK: BATTERSEA POWER STATION.

ARCHITECTURE OF THE WEEK: BATTERSEA POWER STATION.

Battersea Power Station – The Latest Development and a Brief History

 

360-Degree Views of London In the “world’s most famous chimney!”

 

WilkinsonEyre revealed images of the glass lift that will give visitors 360-degree views of London from the top of the Battersea Power Station chimney. The attraction is set to open in September. The glass elevator will emerge through the chimney to a breathtaking 109 metres above the ground, where there will be unobstructed views of London for up to 30 guests at any one time.

 

History and fun facts of the Battersea Power Station

 

1930 

Built by the London Power Company one of the most notable Architects who worked on the Power Station was Giles Gilbert Scott, who is responsible for the design of the iconic red telephone boxes.

 

The original plan was to have the chimneys square rather than circular.

 

1940 

RAF pilots use the mist from the chimneys to guide them in the mist.

 

1944

The second stage of the Power station is generating electricity and 1600 homes in Pimlico are being heated

 

1950 

All four chimneys and the second stage of the power station is complete.

The main boiler room is big enough to fit St.Pauls Cathedral inside

 

1964 

On the day that BBC 2 was scheduled to launch, an electrical fault causes a power failure in London, so the launch was delayed until the following day.

 

1977

The Power Station is featured on the Pink Floyd Album Cover with a floating pig in between the southern chimneys

 

1980

The Power Station is awarded Grade II listed status

 

1983

The Power Station stops generating electricity

 

2012

Works begin to build new community of homes, shops, cafes, restaurants, cultural venues and open spaces for London.

 

The  Power Station is a real focal point for both the local community and visitors, there are places to eat, places to live and places to be entertained, over the years we’ve seen some of the top studios re-imagining both the power station and the surrounding areas, here’s a brief list of studios we’ve seen work from:

 

Rafael Viñoly Architects
Terry Farrell & Partners
Atelier Zündel Cristea
Gehry Partners
Foster + Partners
BIG
Michaelis Boyd
WilkinsonEyre

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8th Mar 2022

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY.

According to the latest AJ figures: Women account for 35% of designers (architects, landscape architects and urban designers) of all AJ100 studios. This number has increased by a percentage point every year for the last 4 years. This compares favourably with the US, where women only account for 22% of designers, whilst the numbers in construction roles are even lower at 14%.
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Although these numbers are trending in the right direction, there’s still much work to be done.  As we’ve seen with so many other sectors, the more diversity becomes inherent in design, the more interesting the design solutions become.
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So today on International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate two outstanding designers who have reached the absolute pinnacle of design and been an inspiration for generations of designers.
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Martha Schwartz:
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Martha is an award-winning, landscape architect, urbanist, climate activist, tenured professor and founder of Martha Schwartz + Partners.
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After graduating from University of Michigan and Harvard Graduate School of Design, she launched her career in 1979 with the famous Bagel Garden in Boston. In the 70’s, Landscape Architecture was very much seen as a male-dominated industry and as a result, the designs were all quite traditional and becoming somewhat stale. So, in 1980 she started her own studio: Martha Schwartz Partners. Here, she flipped the traditional principles of landscape architecture and urbanism and challenged the links between the arts, culture and landscapes. Her studio and designs have pushed the boundaries of what is possible ever since.
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Martha has also used her position as one of the most prominent landscape architects in the world to push climate change programmes and education. She was one of the foremost proponents of working groups on sustainable cities and climate change, and was also instrumental in positioning the landscape architecture foundation’s “new landscape declaration” in which they call for climate change to be at the forefront of the landscape industry. In nearly 50 years in the industry, Martha has not only changed the outlook of the industry but has also been at the forefront of education as a tenured professor inspiring generations of new designers at Harvard School of Design.
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Martha, thank you for your contribution to the landscape industry, the fight against climate change and for making our cities infinitely more interesting places to live in. Diversity in the workplace is so important for a whole variety of reasons, but as Martha has proved over and over; by looking at issues from  different perspectives, we design better solutions.
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Kelly Hoppen
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Interior Designer, Rockstar, TV Personality, Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Mum, and CBE, what doesn’t Kelly do? Most of us know her from her screen time on BBC’s Dragon Den, she is definitely one of my favourite dragons from the show!
Kelly is a pioneer in the Interiors Space; she and her team have designed luxurious opulent spaces for more than four decades. Kelly is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Taupe’ due to her signature style. Kelly is also known for ‘East Meets West’ design philosophy, which is also the title of her first book.
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She received much critical acclaim and recognition, since then she authored a further 8 books to date. Her work includes working with celebrities to design their homes including the Beckhams, she works across multiple sectors including commercial properties, private homes, super-yachts, private jets, and 5* hotels.
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One of the questions I ask the candidates I speak to is: what would be your dream studio to work at? Kelly Hoppen is definitely a popular answer.
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Kelly is a British Icon, and definitely should be celebrated, for her work and her contribution to not only the interior space but also as a Business Leader.
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Words by Kerry Brown & Nassar Suman
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9th Feb 2022

ARCHITECTURE OF THE WEEK: THE LANTERNEN.

ARCHITECTURE OF THE WEEK: THE LANTERNEN.

ARCHITECTURE OF THE WEEK: THE LANTERNEN.

As a big watersports fan myself, this project really resonated with me and the result is undeniably beautiful!

The design is by Snøhetta and Werk Arkitekter for a waterports centre on the coast of Esbjerg in Denmark and evokes the “geometry and craftsmanship of boats” and is made from wood.

The project was completed last year and hosts multiple water sports clubs, training facilities and a large workshop and social space.

The Lanternen translates literally to the Lantern and transmits light like a lantern, as the windows illuminate the building at night like a lighthouse. The round building is designed to be able to enter from any angle.

Lanternen was the winning entry of a competition for the facility, and was chosen by the jury for its ambition to “support the community” and combine “innovative architecture with high functionality”.

 

Written by Kerry Brown

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25th Jan 2022

BURNS NIGHT: RICH & KERRY’S FAVOURITE WHISKIES.

BURNS NIGHT: RICH & KERRY’S FAVOURITE WHISKIES.

What better way to toast the life and works of “Rabbie” Burns than to preview a couple of excellent and affordable scotches from our resident scotch experts. Although today marks Robert Burn’s birthday and most Scots celebrate on Burn’s night on 25th Jan with some haggis, neeps and tatties, you can, in principle, celebrate his life and works on any day of the year. So if you do miss it this year, dont feel too bad; feel safe in the knowledge that you can in fact celebrate his poetry whenever you feel like a wee dram…

Glenrothes – 10year old Speyside single malt

 

 

This is a milder and more subtle style of the Glenrothes blend, which is an ideal introduction to single malt for those keen to explore the world of whiskey. The excellent and complex whiskey offers aromas of vanilla, shortbread and a hint of citrus.

The distillery has been based in the town of Rothes in the heart of speyside since 1878 and unlike many distilleries such as the the Macallan estate and Aberlour also located nearby in Rothes, it does not have a gift shop or visitor centre but instead rely on their superb blends and word of mouth to spread the word of their prized single malt. The designer in me also just loves the bottle and it is probably one of the more aesthetically pleasing scotch bottles around.

This bottle comes in at a very reasonable £35 and is sold at most liquor/whiskey shops. For those of you with slightly deeper pockets, you might be interested in the Glenrothes “Last Drop” collection, botttled in 1968 which retails for the slightly less affordable price of around £8,000 for a bottle. The choice is yours!

“Slang var!”

 

Ardnamurchan – single malt

I can’t think of a more optimistic way to toast Rabbie Burns this year than a glass of the hard stuff from Scotland’s newest distillery, Ardnamurchan, perched way out on the furthest, most Westerly point of the mainland.

Founded in 2014 and with the first bottles released late 2020 we’re only just onto their 6th release. Affordable (unless you’re bold enough to bid £800 for the rare early bottles), historic and widely adored, it’s one of those very lightly peated whiskies that make a great first taster to convert the unconverted, yet is 46.8% and complex enough for a seasoned malt head to put a bottle away at a single session and still not be sure why they like it so much.

 

Fit for 2022, Ardnamurchan is also leading the way in traceability and sustainability: There’s an individual QR code on each bottle linked to a blockchain inventory and the distillery is up for an environmental award for its low-carbon, by-product recycling, renewable energy focused production.

 

Guilt-free single malt comin thro the rye.

 

“Slang var!”

 

4 more affordable whiskies for Burns Night:

Dalwhinnie 15

Kilkerran 12

Arran 10

Glen Grant 10

Written by Richard Maddox and Kerry Brown

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17th Jan 2022

WELCOME NASSAR TO THE BLACKSOFA TEAM!

WELCOME NASSAR TO THE BLACKSOFA TEAM!

We are SO excited to welcome Nassar Ahmed to the BlackSofa team!

Nassar will be looking after the interior design, furniture and the creative support side of things.

Please, get in contact today and let Nassar help you find your dream role!

 

Hey Nassar! What you do within BlackSofa?

Recruitment Consultant – with the focus on Furniture and Interior Design, (then eventually at some point also get involved with the Architectural Side).

 
What did you do previously?


I’ve worked in the Furniture Industry for about 7 years within various different roles everything from Customer Services, to Operations. I’ve worked in both retail furniture and commercial furniture companies, and have had the pleasure of working with some of the leading brands such as Hay, Vitra, Knoll, Kartell, Flos, Tom Dixon and Gubi, just to name a few. 

 

I particularly enjoyed working within Operations as it gave me the opportunity to constantly be on my toes, and understand the entire process. it also put me in a position where I was able to collaborate with lots of different teams. 

One of the coolest projects I have worked on was The Tottenham Football Stadium, although I’m not sure about the Team (As I am somewhat of an Arsenal Fan), they definitely have a great stadium!


What are you looking forward to with your new role at Black Sofa? 
 

Staying connected to the Furniture and Design Community and finding them their awesome new colleague. 

 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself/ some personal interests?

 

Fun Fact: I used to do Kendo (Japanese Fencing) 

Outside of work I love mechanical wristwatches, both old and new, when I was younger I used to love taking them apart, but not quite being able to put them back together 🙂

Oh lastly sometimes I wear 2 watches at the same time (not on the same wrist) – mostly crazy watch people, who call themselves enthusiasts do this!

 

Contact Nassar today! m: 07957340691 e: nsuman@blacksofalondon.com
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10th Jan 2022

PROJECTS BLACKSOFA ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2022

PROJECTS BLACKSOFA ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2022

PROJECTS BLACKSOFA ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2022

 

 

Mata Atlantica at Rosewood São Paulo in Cidade Matarazzo in São Paulo, Brazil by Jean Nouvel.

 

There have been a raft of great projects to come out of Brazil recently, and none have captured our imagination more than this one by French Pritzker prize winning architect Jean Nouvel. The brief was for the new Rosewood Hotel on one of Sao Paulo’s busiest street’s. The concept is a 93m mixed use tower proving luxury design can also incorporate sustainable principles. The building will be entirely powered by clean energy and will introduce 10,000 new tree’s to the area, many of which will be grown within the structure giving the impression that the local “Matarazzo park has invaded the tower.” says Nouvel.

 

 

 

 

 

Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi by Adjaye Associates.

 

This project was commissioned to celebrate the recent signing of the “document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and living together” by faith leader’s in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
Adjaye Associates beat off stiff competition to be chosen for the project. The complex combines a mosque, synagogue, church and secular meeting space which are brought together by a shared garden. “I’ve always seen these three religions as very different—it’s what we’re led to believe—but then you discover these incredible connections and overlaps that sit with these distinct differences,” says architect Sir David Adjaye.

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16th Dec 2021

BLACK SOFA’S BEST BUILDINGS OF 2021

BLACK SOFA’S BEST BUILDINGS OF 2021

Best buildings of 2021

Coming to the end of the year, we wanted to look back and reflect over a strange year and celebrate some of our favourite buildings of 2021. Using the RIBA national awards as a rough guide.

We will be picking out our favourite buildings from the 54 winners which we here at Blacksofa particularly enjoyed.

Marks Barfield Architects have designed a wonderfully imaginative, sustainable Mosque in Cambridge. The building was commissioned by the Cambridge mosque Trust who asked for the mosque to be respectful of the local surroundings but at the same time stand out, which Marks Barfield Architects have delivered to a tee

 

 

 

“It was a question of what a British mosque should be in the 21st century; it was very much about recognising that Islam is part of British culture now and has been for hundreds of years,” said Marks Barfield Architects co-founder Julia Barfield.

The building, which replaces the old mosque that had become too small for the congregation, was designed around the idea of a “calm oasis of contemplation” situated within a grove of trees and informed by the garden of paradise.

The studio embodied this vision in the very structure of the 2,340-square-metre mosque, using timber to create tree-like pillars that join to form an interwoven, octagonal canopy that holds up its roof.

“The fact that a mosque is a place of tranquility and calm reflection and the most natural area to do that is in nature, in a garden of trees.”

In keeping with its sustainable design and use of materials, the mosque is part-powered by solar power, which covers all of the hot water used, all of the cooling of the building and 13 per cent of the heating. It also harvests rainwater for flushing toilets and irrigation.

 

 

The mosque will be used by more than 60 different nationalities, and one of the main aims was to create the leading women friendly mosque in the country. So a temporary mashrabiya wall has been installed to erect or remove depending on circumstances “So if there are women coming from more traditional countries – there are people from 60 different countries visiting the mosque – we wanted it to also be comfortable for them.”

We will let you know our second pick soon, so stay tuned and let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

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22nd Nov 2021

KERRY’S WFH SET UP

KERRY’S WFH SET UP

Hey Kerry, What do you do with Black Sofa…?

I look after all landscape and urban design roles for our clients and candidates

Give me a list of your top 10 WFH vibe songs…

 

 

What does your WFH set up look like?

Set up in the study with a large cup of coffee listening to sports podcasts

 

What’s a classic Kerry WFH lunch?

I was in Greece over the summer so been playing around with a few simple Greek dishes: Grated tomato on toast with feta and avo on top is my current fave

 

What WFH rituals do you have?

Go for a run/paddle board with the dog at lunch

 

get in touch with Kerry on kbrown@blacksofalondon.com

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29th Oct 2021

SPOOKY ARCHITECTURE: EXETER CATHERDRAL

SPOOKY ARCHITECTURE: EXETER CATHERDRAL

Exeter Cathedral is an incredibly beautiful yet spooky place at night, and is certainly my favourite example of Norman decorated gothic architecture.

 

 

The lighting and alcoves in between the buttresses make for some creepy areas at night and acts as a beautiful meeting place for many Exeter locals to stop and enjoy lunch or meet friends. I remember meeting many friends here before mobile phones were a thing.
It took nearly 300 years to build and some of the intricate carvings inside under the gigantic arches give the place an incredible ambience which amplifies the acoustic properties of the building. If you are in the area it is definitely worth a tour inside to witness the incredible attention to detail first hand.
I know that lots of Devon locals will be meeting in the Cathedral grounds over the weekend to celebrate Halloween and play trick or treat or jump out from behind the buttresses watched over by uniquely terrifying looking gargoyles on unsuspecting passers by. The area is finished with some stunning landscaping and gardens and is surrounded by many incredibly old pubs and restaurants and has acted as a real hub for the city for centuries. A truly unique place and well worth a visit!

 

Kerry Brown.
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4th Oct 2021

WORLD ARCHITECTURE DAY: 5 Architectural Masterpieces to visit in London

WORLD ARCHITECTURE DAY: 5 Architectural Masterpieces to visit in London

WORLD ARCHITECTURE DAY: 5 Architectural Masterpieces to visit in London

 

We wanted to celebrate World Architecture day at Black Sofa by making a list of our 5 favourite buildings in London, we picked 3 modern masterpieces and a couple of old classics, one of which has recently been painstakingly restored to its former glory after decades of neglect.
I hope you enjoy it, and if you haven’t seen all of these, what better day to get out and see them in the flesh than a sunny, crisp autumn Monday. They truly are astounding and admired throughout the world. They make our great city what it is today!
Let me know in the comments your favourites and if you agree/disagree with any of these or if you would like to see a write up on any others in the future. Happy World Architecture Day!

Bloomberg Building
3 Queen Victoria Street, EC4N 8AR


Designed by Foster + Partners and completed in 2017, the Bloomberg building won the 2018 Stirling prize.

Encompassing an entire block of central London, the Bloomberg HQ is formed of two blocks connected by a bridge. Great slabs of Derbyshire sandstone and fins of hand-patinated Japanese bronze form the grand facade of the ten-storey building, which claims to be the “world’s most sustainable office”.

“From our first discussions to the final details of the project, Mike Bloomberg and I had a ‘meeting of minds’ on every aspect of the project – its sustainable focus, commitment to innovation and drive to create the best workplace for Bloomberg employees,” said Norman Foster.

“The RIBA Stirling Prize is a testament to the incredible collaborative spirit that has underpinned the entire project from start to finish.”

Another building I regularly walk past and am still in awe of the attention to detail and all round beauty of the structure. A modern classic!

 

The Gherkin 

30 St Marys Axe, EC3A 8EP
A reference to its rounded form resembling the divisive vegetable. Foster + Partners’ Stirling Prize–winning construction was built in 2004. Standing 41 stories high, the environmentally conscious building was commissioned by reinsurance provider Swiss Re.

The shape of the tower is influenced by the physical environment of the city. The smooth flow of wind around the building was one of the main considerations.

The tower is aerodynamically designed to reduce wind load on the structure, whilst the lower part tapers so that wind wraps around the tower.

The building has a steel frame and a glass facade with diamond-shaped panels. The swirling striped pattern visible on the exterior is the result of the building’s energy-saving system which allows the air to flow up through spiraling wells.

Lloyds Building
1 Lime Street, Whitechapel, EC3M 7HA

Richard Rogers’s (Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners) famous inside-out building is home to insurance company Lloyd’s of London. Taking cues from the Centre Pompidou, this three-tower Bowellist construction features external elevators and service functions, allowing for easy maintenance and flexible, open-plan interiors.
Lloyd’s Building was one of the most innovative buildings of its time in London. To this day, it is still seen as one of the most unique buildings in London by many architectural scholars. It comprises six towers, three of which are considered to be the “main” towers. The other three towers are considered service towers.

The design places the staircases, lifts, and service conduits on the outside of the building. This was intended to give the rectangular interior of the building a less cluttered feel. It also imparts an industrial and unique look to the outside of the building. There are a total of 12 glass lifts attached to the outside of the building.

The building is 289 feet tall and has a total of 14 floors. Construction began in 1978 and was completed 8 years later in 1986. It cost roughly 75 million GBP to complete the project.

I feel privileged to walk past this every day on my way to work, the design still stands the test of time and I still see new elements that I hadn’t noticed previously from different angles.
 

Royal Albert Hall

Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP

The Hall was designed by civil engineers Captain Francis Fowke and Major-General Henry Y. D. Scott of the Royal Engineers and built by Lucas Brothers. The designers were heavily influenced by ancient amphitheatres but had also been exposed to the ideas of Gottfried Semper while he was working at the South Kensington Museum. The recently opened Cirque d’Hiver in Paris was seen in the contemporary press as the design to outdo. The Hall was constructed mainly of Fareham Red brick, with terra cotta block decoration

The dome  was designed by Rowland Mason Ordish and is made of wrought iron and glazed. There was a trial assembly of the dome’s iron framework in Manchester; then it was taken apart again and transported to London by horse and cart. When the time came for the supporting structure to be removed from the dome after reassembly in situ, only volunteers remained on site in case the structure collapsed. It did drop – but only by 7.9 mm

The interior is one of the great triumphs of British architecture, projecting an acoustic sound that is unrivalled by most of its modern counterparts, and an elegance befitting the era, I would recommend anyone to go and watch a concert here if you get the chance, it is truly breathtaking

 
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Euston Rd, London N1C 4QP

The St. Pancras train station first opened in 1868 and was followed by the completion of the east and west wings of the neighboring Midland Grand Hotel in 1873 and 1876, respectively. A masterful example of Victorian-era Gothic Revival architecture, designed by George Gilbert Scott.
The hotel was shut down in 1935 and fell into disrepair until renovations began in the 1990s which were overseen by  The Manhattan Loft Company , RHWL (now Aedas) and Richard Griffiths Architects. Harry Handelsman (CEO of Manhattan Loft Co freely admits that costs spiralled during renovation but argued that the cost was worth it as it’s a one off. A famous story is recounted that when a fragment of rare wallpaper was found in one room, it was reinstated at a cost of £47,000 for the single room. He says that he “wanted to go the extra mile, even though it cost tens of millions”. He is confident that he will “recoup his investment, because it will be the most beautiful hotel in London” I don’t think he’s wrong in this assertion, a true jewel in the fabric of London.
The site is now open for business in the form of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel and stands imposingly over Euston Road and the surrounding stations, finally restored to its former glories after decades of neglect.

 

Kerry Brown.
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1st Oct 2021

PORTFOLIO ADVICE

PORTFOLIO ADVICE

What do clients look for in a portfolio?

Here at BlackSofa, we try to work on fewer jobs so that we can spend more time with our clients and candidates to provide them with a more personal and higher quality service. We pride ourselves on meeting ALL of our candidates on a personal level and take our time to look and talk through portfolios with candidates and spend as much time as it takes to understand you and your work, giving feedback and advice on what is a very personal subject, your portfolio (Your greatest hits album!)

We ask all candidates to present their portfolios to us, as:

a) This gives us a much clearer understanding of your work and allows us to help you find suitable studios to match your requirements and passions

b) It allows us to provide constructive feedback on your presentations and help improve presenting skills as most design interviews will involve presenting your portfolio. Presenting projects is also an important skill to have when presenting to clients or pitching for new business, and will become more prevalent as you rise through the ranks.

I specialise in landscape architecture, urban design and planning so my advice will be particularly aimed at those fields but the examples will be interchangeable and apply equally to other architecture and design specialisms.

 

What do you want to convey in your portfolio?

Designers are rightfully very proud and protective of their portfolios as it should encapsulate your career to date. A good portfolio should display as broad a range of experience, designs, sectors and software’s as possible, and should also demonstrate an evolution of your experience and career. I am often asked: “Should I include university work in my portfolio? and Should I include projects or graphics that were collaborative or outsourced?” The short answer to both questions is YES!

I still work with some leading directors in the industry who are still proud of projects they completed at university and include these in their portfolio today to show the evolution of their work. As with explaining any design process (which I will come to later) it is not about where you end up that clients want to see but how you got there, and showing the evolution of yourself through your work and projects is a useful way of explaining who you are through your experiences.

A portfolio should also mirror in some ways a development brochure/report i.e have a professional mixture of images, technical details, renders and text supporting and explaining your design process and concept, whilst simultaneously telling the story of the project. it should not be a selection of unrelated images! Though not all of the images or text on the page need to be your own.

Almost all professional projects are collaborative processes; this should not stop you including outsourced renders or other people’s contributions if they add to the overall aesthetic and objective. Just be honest when explaining your contribution to the interviewer, for example: “ I was responsible for the conceptual design with directorial supervision, the renders were outsourced and I led on the design code while my colleague led on the technical detailing”

An easy way to give the reader or interviewer a brief overview of each project, is having a corner box or header laying out the client, sub consultants, location, project brief i.e Residential masterplan for 250 units in Sevenoaks, Kent for Barrett homes (fictional example of course!). This sounds obvious but will save you time explaining to your interviewers the basic overview of every project, giving you more time to explain your design process and responsibilities on the project. It also adds to the impression of clarity and a professional layout.

 

Who is your audience?

The key to any interview is understanding your audience i.e the studio and role you are interviewing for. I will always give you a detailed briefing on any studio prior to interview, and provide links to the studios projects, who you will be meeting, and what they will look for from you. However personal research is also important to get a better understanding of the studio for yourself and to evaluate: What skill sets/experience are they looking for from you? What are their specialities/key project areas? It is often a good idea to have a few projects that you can interchange into your portfolio to demonstrate various skill sets, sector experience, project stages worked on and software used.

Interviews and portfolios rely on the interviewers or readers perceptions, so if you do not demonstrate various skill sets, stages, sectors etc how is the interviewer meant to know you have that experience? So always try and demonstrate a broad selection but also tailor your samples to the specific client/role. For instance if the job spec is looking for a senior landscape architect to lead on technical detailing and you know the studio predominantly works on residential projects using Revit. If you have experience in these areas, it stands to reason that your chances of securing the role increase exponentially if you include and highlight projects that demonstrate these skill sets.

Some candidate’s work on very similar projects due to the nature of the studio they work for. However if this is the case, for example an urban designer who has predominantly worked on greenfield residential masterplans. It is beneficial to include as much diversity as possible to showcase the range of your abilities. This might mean displaying any other projects in different sectors that you have worked on at previous studios such as health, residential, mixed use etc, different RIBA stages worked on (clients like to see experience in as many RIBA stages as possible) so it is always good to highlight this when you are presenting in an interview.

Another question I get asked a lot is by candidates working on predominantly international projects is “How do I make my portfolio more attractive to studios working on primarily or solely UK projects?” The answer to this is to highlight the UK projects you have worked on in your portfolio and spend more time presenting these in an interview to demonstrate you understand the differences between working on International projects vs UK projects. It is easy to get pigeon holed by employers as you could have an incredible portfolio of doing ground breaking projects that you would never get the scope to work on in the UK such as masterplanning a new city for 50,000 people in Africa or landscaping a Middle Eastern Princes palace. But the reality is that the scale, scope and differences in working on these projects have little relevance to most UK projects which are mostly on a completely different scale.

If you are looking for a new role and it is likely you will be interviewing at maybe a few studios, it is worthwhile practicing presenting your portfolio. As with anything in life, the more times you do it, the better you become at it. Not everyone is naturally comfortable or confident standing up and presenting to strangers in an interview, this is only natural and can be easily improved! I say to all candidates who are interviewing, ask your partner or house mate if you can pour them a drink and sit them down for 20 minutes whilst you present your portfolio to them, the more you do it the more comfortable you become doing it and start to build up a flow, you will find the words will come more easily when under pressure in an interview.

You will probably not have time to present your entire portfolio in depth at an interview so it is best to pick out maybe 3-4 projects which are the most relevant to that specific client as explained above, and present those projects in a good level of detail. Luckily the vast majority of candidates I work with are incredibly passionate about what they do and this really shines through when they present. This is one of the most attractive qualities to display for a candidate. However sometimes with incredible passion (which is definitely a good thing) it can be easy to “waffle” in these situations and end up not getting your point across concisely, so try and approach every project with a structure. For example for each project break it down into 4 stages:

  1. Brief overview of the project: Listing Client, collaborations with other studios/sub consultants, project brief and objective.
  2. Responsibilities: Discus the stage or stages your studio and you personally worked on and what your personal responsibilities were in each stage, highlighting particular images/reports in the portfolio that you were directly responsible for
  3. Explain your design process: outlining parameters and breaking the process down; explaining site constraints, influencing factors such as client demands to increase profits vs planning issues, how did you go about solving these issues?
  4. Current project update: for example: I/we completed conceptual design, then passed it on to XYZ who developed our concept in this way, the project is now in phase 2 of construction, was there anything you learned or would have done differently? (You may have to look this up if you were involved in an earlier stage and the project is still on-going, but it is nice to finish the story in any presentation, and shows you took an interest and pride in the wider project, not just your bit) 

 

What medium should I present my Portfolio on?

This is purely down to personal preference, and it essentially comes down to what you are most comfortable presenting. As long as you don’t walk in with some creased A4 pages hot off the office printer press you should be OK. But obviously the aim is to reflect professionalism, clarity and a high level of presentation. My personal preference is either:

  • A3 leather bound ring binder as it looks very smart (but remember to adjust printing for the middle section of double page spreads as they tend to get sucked into the bind and can be hard to see and can take time away from your presentation)
  • Presenting on an Ipad or projector as its easier to present without having to turn pages, so is easier to build up a flow presenting. Though please note if you want to present on a projector ask your recruiter to ensure they have that facility.

All the advice listed above is fairly obvious and is essentially just common sense, but I hope it may help in some small way.

 

Kerry Brown.

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10th Jun 2021

GROWING FOR WELLBEING WEEK – BLACKSOFA’S FAVOURITE GARDENS.

GROWING FOR WELLBEING WEEK – BLACKSOFA’S FAVOURITE GARDENS.

GROWING FOR WELLBEING WEEK – BLACKSOFA’S FAVOURITE GARDENS.

It’s Growing for Wellbeing Week!

“Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental ill health each year. There is strong evidence highlighting the health benefits of gardening and GYO in particular, including improved confidence, communication, concentration and ultimately self-belief.”

To celebrate this and encourage you to celebrate all things growing, we’re showing you two of Black Sofa’s favourite garden inspirations!

First up, we have the iconic Chatsworth House Estate & Gardens:

 

 

“My favourite garden in the UK sits on the edge of the Peak District. Designed by the famous landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and then later additions by Joseph Paxton (of Kew Gardens fame) it really is a pleasure to explore. Chatsworth house has many restaurants, pubs and a farm shop that are all supplied by the crops and produce from the gardens and surrounding 1,000 ache estate and is a must visit if you are ever in Derbyshire!” Thomas, BlackSofa MD

 

 

Next, we have the truly enchanting Lost Gardens of Heligan:

“Anyone who has ever read the book or watched the movie: The Secret Garden will be able to relate to this story. In the early 19th Century: Heligan, a thousand acre estate near Mevagissey, Cornwall was at its zenith. A monumental 16th century gardenesque style walled garden and grounds. Sitting on the temperate peninsula fed by the warming Gulf Stream, which provides the perfect conditions for growing some of the many tropical plants brought back from abroad by traders and explorers during the last 400 years such as Dicksonia Antartica (tree ferns) from Tasmania, Gunnera Manicata from Northern Brazil which combine to form sprawling tropical rainforest like conditions within the borders of the UK.

With the outbreak of WW1, most of the local men went away to fight the war including the custodians and gardeners of the estate, with many sadly not coming home. The estate was left to disrepair until a chance encounter in 1990 when a secret gate was discovered with the message etched into the stone arch “Do not come here to sleep or slumber: August, 1914” signed by all the groundsmen. The grounds were left unattended to overgrow for nearly 80 years until a team of local volunteers led by the now world renowned Tim Smit (The Eden Project) prised their way in and spent the next decade cutting back, pruning and restoring the gardens to their original splendour.

 

 

The 80 years of un-capped growth has led to some enormous rhododendrons and camelia’s some of which are over 200 years old. They also fully restored the house walled veg and salad gardens which incorporates an ingenious 16th Century compost heating system which is piped into the large original greenhouses and cold frames to provide heat during the winter to some of the tropical fruits and veg again mostly brought back from the tropics centuries ago.

The lost gardens of Heligan is my favourite garden in the UK as it is local to where I am from, contains probably the best tropical collection in the UK and the fact it has been left to re-wild for 80 years provides a unique resonance to the incredible story behind the gardens and the sympathetic restoral project led by the dedicated volunteers. A true national treasure!” – Kerry, BlackSofa Principal consultant.

To find out more about Growing For Wellbeing Week and how you can take part, visit

National Growing for Wellbeing Week

 

PHOTOS FROM

Chatsworth House Instagram.

Kerry Brown.

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25th May 2021

It’s English Tourism Week! Black Sofa’s Top Three Cities to Visit in England

It’s English Tourism Week! Black Sofa’s Top Three Cities to Visit in England

 

It’s English Tourism Week! And to celebrate this, Black Sofa’s MD, Thomas Potter, is sharing with you some of his best-loved cities in England!

To find out more about English Tourism Week 2021, please visit https://www.visitbritain.org/english-tourism-week .

First up we have….Bath! “Bath is one of my favourite cities in the UK. Massively developed in the regency period its grand neo-classical architecture is as impressive now as it was when it was built 250 years ago. Some of the great architects of the time came to work in Bath; John Wood the Elder, John Wood the Younger, Robert Adam and Thomas Baldwin all flocked to the city to be a part of the development. It also has some great restaurants and good old-fashioned pubs these days which add to it’s visiting appeal!”.

 

 

Secondly, we head up North, to visit York; “York is rich with English history and architecture having been a Roman settlement and a Viking stronghold- it has some of the finest medieval buildings in the UK (York Minster can be seen for miles). However, it’s the cobbled streets, ancient pubs, and old shop fronts that make me visit time and time again. A visit at Christmas is highly recommended where you feel you could be in a Dickens novel at times! It also has a big foodie scene at the moment (Skosh, Roots and nearby Black Swan I highly recommend) so there is a long weekend made in heaven to be had in York.”

 

 

And finally, we have Liverpool- “I moved to Liverpool straight after university for a couple of years and was immediately struck by the diversity in its architecture. The impressive waterfront has buildings of industrial grandeur when wealth poured into the city from overseas trade (which sadly included the slave trade) but also has many strikingly controversial developments such as the NML Museum of Liverpool and Liverpool One shopping centre. The further you sprawl into the city and up the hill towards the university you pass many impressive structures such as the two cathedrals separated by a single road (Hope Street) and there are many amazing pubs, bars, and restaurants all around not to mention some great residential roads around Sefton Park and Lark Lane. There’s plenty to do in Liverpool, with many museums, galleries, shops, restaurants and bars you are sure to have a great time!”

 

Image:  https://www.theculturemap.com/brutalist-architecture-in-england/liverpool-metropolitan-cathedral-brutalist-architecture/

Image: http://https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/gallery/bath-in-black-and-white-1988473

Image: https://www.templeseeker.com/historic-york-england-photos/

 

 

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19th May 2021

National Vegetarian Week: Our Three Favourite WFH Lunches.

National Vegetarian Week: Our Three Favourite WFH Lunches.

NATIONAL VEGETARIAN WEEK: OUR THREE FAVOURITE WFH LUNCHES.

In honour of National Vegetarian Week we are sharing with you three of our favourite veggie meals, that are perfect for those lunches while you work from home. I know, we are nice.

 

According to Medical News Today ( and they ought to know), being veggie can do wonders for you and your body. It can help with things like: weight, cholesterol, cancer, heart health, and diabetes.

 

Are you wanting to go veggie, but aren’t sure how to do it? Try these tops from BBC Good Food

 

“How to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet

  • Include protein sources such as eggs, dairy or fortified plant alternatives, soya, pulses, beans, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Include wholegrain versions of bread, rice or pasta.
  • Choose cold-pressed, unsaturated oils, where possible and nuts and seeds including flax, chia and walnuts, as well as omega-3 enriched eggs.
  • Include mineral-rich foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, leafy greens, fortified cereals and plant milks as well as wholegrains.”

First up on the recipe front is this Stir-fried Tofu Bento Box with Sesame Soba Noodles and Ginger-Carrot Broccoli. I know, I am also now very hungry. Super easy to make the night before and leave in the fridge, ready for a quick lunch in between meetings.

 

Stir-fried Tofu Bento Box with Sesame Soba Noodles and Ginger-Carrot Broccoli

 

Secondly, with have this great Vegan Falafel Buddha Bowl with Creamy Avocado Dressing. We know, the falafel is the most basic of veggie food (so much so that it should really should have it’s own food group for the new vegetarian), but in this fun buddha bowl? Amazing. And the dressing? Iconic. 10/10 would eat with a spoon.

 

Cauldron Vegan Falafel Buddha Bowl with Creamy Avocado Dressing

 

And finally, but by NO means least. We have the humble pasta dish.  You might be thinking, ‘wow, a pasta dish for vegetarians… groundbreaking.’, but let me throw you this culinary curveball. FAJITA. PASTA. I know. Don’t even talk to me right now, the tastebuds are vibing.

Vegetarian Fajita Pasta

 

Information from

 

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/vegetarian-diet-health-benefits-tips

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8749#benefits

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian

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1st Feb 2021

2021: The future of design in lockdown

2021: The future of design in lockdown

Whats new in 2021?

As part of our commitment to strive to continue adding value to our clients recruitment planning and processes in 2021 we are going to be providing more market insights to our clients. As part of this drive we have just finished compiling a new survey which we will be distributing next week: “2021: The future of design in lockdown”.

We surveyed over 200 architects, landscape architects and urban designers from around the UK on their views on the future of the industry in these strange times and how they think lockdown will affect the industry moving forward.

We asked designers their views on a number of topics including:

  • What employee’s want from their employers to help them work remotely effectively
  • What changes employee’s would like to see in post COVID work life
  • What are the most important motivating factors for candidates when considering an offer in the lockdown jobs market
  • The future recruitment trends and skill-sets they see being most valuable to employers in 2021.

If you would like copy, please get in touch with Kerry at kbrown@blacksofalondon.com

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19th Aug 2020

At last…

At last…

I have been lucky enough for work for a “modern” employer. For the last 10 years I have worked remotely with trust and respect – that the work will be done…and it is…even to the extent where the whole finance function is run remotely and (fingers crossed) efficiently.

Before this I worked part-time with younger children, well 4 days….and endured years of telling people – yes I do work part-time and no I am not lucky compared to you working full time. As I also received part-time pay. So hey I am no different than you!

I am hoping this sad pandemic will bring new working practises for other people too, especially the bigger corporates! Working remotely at the best of times…is refreshing, thought provoking, more balanced. I still need people to talk to – whether strictly business or a bit of a gossip / banter and get that in bundles with all the other teams in the company, sometimes on my terms, sometimes on theirs. But I am not stressed that the kids are home alone or the train is delayed. Yes I pay more for electricity but less for travel.

I have loved people telling me, what it has meant for them to work remotely and for some how the office is actually that much needed sanctuary. There has been a simplicity about this time, people have more energy and are kinder.

It has been easier dealing with the big suppliers – as you talk to one person who just really does want to help you, they are not watching the clock, thinking I have to leave in 10 mins to catch that train / bus / nursery. They have listened and actually sorted the issue first time.

So my message to the bigger companies is……Listen….

Written by Bev Heckels

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19th Jun 2020

A Human Touch

A Human Touch

Recently, I’ve read a few accounts concerning frustrations around receiving ‘automated responses’, in particular rejection emails for jobs applied for.

In these unprecedented times, many people who are not so lucky to be working deserve a dignified response with a human feel.  Rejection is painful enough, so let’s not under-estimate the impact this can have on morale.

That said, we also have to appreciate that, given the volume of applications for some companies, it’s not always possible to give personalised feedback.  However, we could do well to find a balance and where possible promote a mindful and individual approach.

Right now, it’s a complex picture out there, notwithstanding the uncertainty concerning how and when markets will recover.

A little empathy goes a long way, as does a personal human touch!

WRITTEN BY ALEX COLLINS

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19th Jun 2020

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

There is a racial problem within the inherited imperial system. The brutal murder of George Floyd was recorded and posted on social media. This moment seems to be the catalyst to spark a revolution with a purpose.

As a white male with a distant yet proud Black West African heritage (an ancestor captured as a slave and released to marry one of my forebears), I asked myself ‘what I could do to help?’.

Growing up in predominantly white Chelmsford, Essex, it was unusual to see many black people. I made friends with a black guy who fled with his family from Sudan to the UK in 1997. Omar Al Bashir’s brutal 30 year dictatorial regime was overthrown on 3rd June 2019, by the very type of direct action, protests and activism we are seeing today. The overthrow of the Sudanese regime is a potent example of how sustained political protest can make generation defining change. Incidentally, those protests in Sudan were led by women and young people – those who are often not heard by those in power.

For the purpose of this blog post I’m going to refer to the black guy as “Magic”, because to me, that’s what he was, a magic friend who understood me, behaved like me and emotionally evolved like me despite the fact we have different quantities of melanin in our skin.

I was invited around for dinner frequently and was ALWAYS welcomed with an open heart; the food was so different from what I was familiar with but I liked it, “I like it alot”, (to quote Lloyd Christmas).

I’d sit and chill with Magic’s Dad, the well educated accountant in his late 60’s, dressed in the relatively traditional Jellabiya, as we watch the PGA golf together and he asks “What’s the point of this?”, to which I just laughed as in ‘I don’t really get golf either, mate’. But then he persists “Can you explain it to me?”. And after I explained golf is about getting it in the hole with as fewer shots possible, he sat back with a sense of achievement. He paused for a moment, and then asked “What about Cricket?” ~ Cue both of us crease with laughter.

I will never be able to comprehend the systematic racial disparity that happens on a daily basis. I make mistakes, we all make mistakes, but we have to try to unlearn the inherited traditional systems and build new habits to sustain a new type of system that is always incrementally improving upon the last.

And that is why I feel compelled to say “BLACK LIVES MATTER”.

It is not saying that “Only Black Lives Matter.” We all know “All Lives Matter”. We just need everyone’s help with #blacklivesmatter because black lives are in danger.

Just as an example, I changed my profile picture to the black power fist sign, and within half a day I had to have awkward, emotionally draining conversations with some of my family and friends, to explain why. It begs the question, what must it be like for Magic every single day?!

Examples of racial micro-aggression Magic regularly experiences include; getting into a lift and a lady clutching her hand bag tighter as if she was about to be robbed; a person getting out of a lift as he gets in; and people crossing the street as he is walking towards them. I’ve witnessed first hand the gawking in Magic’s direction, as we would walk into various venues like a pub, sports facility or restaurant where we grew up in Chelmsford City centre.

To reference the great Ian Wright, Wright, Wright, (begrudgingly as a Chelsea fan) “We’ve got a generation of players and people now – not just black players – who won’t tolerate this anymore. My generation was the ‘turn the other cheek’ generation, the Martin Luther King generation. But now this is the ‘by all means necessary’ generation, the Malcolm X generation.”

The reason I am taking a stand to put some words out there is because I asked my friend, Magic, “What can I do to help?”. His response “Thanks man, quickest and most impactful thing to do is to call people out. And by listening.”

Here’s the crux of what I believe to be my responsibility…

  1. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
  2. Education is key. Accepting that I do not know everything and that I have in fact behaved inappropriately in the past, but I am willing to learn.
  3. Reach out to people and ask, “What can I do to help?”, and listen.
  4. Call out people and make them accountable. Be patient with them and confront the problem. Accept that they got it wrong and then forgive them when they change. Acknowledge their progress in influencing others to male positive change.

The point I’m trying to make is that Black Lives Matter and this is an attempt to spread that message. I would appreciate any help towards positive action and change.

Below are resources I found helpful for taking action. The document below has names and links to funding pages for organisations on the front line, petitions, books, articles and UK black-owned small business:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vQxdi_Wl-fF_Cthyr4H5E5q11qLGrZ3FhClem3sel-g/htmlview

Color of Change (https://colorofchange.org), NAACP (https://www.naacp.org) and Grass Roots Law Project (https://instagram.com/grassrootslaw) are doing some great work too.

WRITTEN BY DANNY STEWART

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5th Jun 2020

A challenging time for this year’s graduates ?

A challenging time for this year’s graduates ?

Never before has the immediate work future looked so unclear for this year’s graduates.  Indeed, the challenges afoot pose an overwhelming prospect for many.  How do we tackle an unknown employment landscape in a way that is constructive and offers hope?

Good question.

Qualities graduates may need in ample and equal supplies are resilience, determination, sure footedness and flexibility.  The ‘preferred choice’ role may not be immediately available, however considering second and even third choice positions can open up the prospect of paid work, whilst gaining invaluable industry experience.

Keeping an open mind, practising mindfulness and staying emotionally strong can also create a solid platform from which to search for that opportunity with your name on it.

Positivity is key.  If you don’t land the perfect role straight away, don’t worry, it’s not your fault.  Hang on in there. The market will rise again. Don’t lose hope.

Talk to us.

The RedSofa Team

WRITTEN BY ALEX COLLINS

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5th Jun 2020

Coronacoaster…

Coronacoaster…

Now it’s not ALL No-go
(By edict of Bo-Jo)
We’ve all got Fogo
Or maybe just Jomo
But anyway – you know.
It’s all so so-so
With nowhere to go-go
God – give us back Soho!
 
WRITTEN BY KATE KENTISH
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5th Jun 2020

myfitbit says …

myfitbit says …

have you gone to sleep

my gin bottle says…

empty

my weighing scales say…

no idea who this is

my mirror says…

hi bat wings, long time no see

my book shelf says…

what delight can I serve you with today

my mind says…

calm, content, rested

WRITTEN BY BEV HECKLES

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5th Jun 2020

Why we decided to send our children to school this week? 

Why we decided to send our children to school this week? 

The month of May brought about a big question for the parents of reception, year 1 and year 6 children. Do we or don’t we send our children back to school for the last half of summer term?
Like all self-respecting, cowardly St Albans mums, before I made my decision I went straight to the class WhatsApp group. What are the other mums doing? My twins are in different classes, so I was able to survey the mums of two classes… SHOCK, HORROR the ladies were torn. Everyone was ever so respectful (yawn!) of everyone’s personal choice, but there was a clear split. Why wasn’t everyone thinking the same as me? I wanted my kids out the door… picture an American Baseball umpire screaming, “You’re outta here!” to a caught-out batsman! That’s me.
The parents keeping their kids at home had valid reasons, mostly relating to the compromised health of other family members. Some mums didn’t want to send their reception child to school as they had another child at home, not yet invited back to school, and they didn’t want to upset the balance of the household. Some mums, mostly housewives, just felt it was not worthwhile for their 4 or 5 year old to risk their health for eight weeks of school. Fair enough.
My first, and maybe most selfish, reason to send my kids back to school is I love my job! Our family is a terrible stereotype I’m afraid. Hubby is the breadwinner with me a contributor, with a healthy, part-time salary. I adore my role as a head-hunter and I adore the creative industry I recruit for. I felt no compulsion to stay at home with my twins full time for more than the first 12 months of their lives. I have no regrets. My ambitions are certainly different now I’m a Mummy. I don’t wish to climb the corporate ladder, but I love the job and I value, beyond measure, the opportunity to wear the ‘worker’ hat that I wore before motherhood. Plus, the office banter is still as fun as it was when I left university for my first job all those moons ago! (I know only ar*eholes still say banter, but my vocabulary fails me…sorry!)
My second reason is the one I feel most passionately about and will lecture anyone standing still long enough on! It’s crucial for all the healthy and able adult population to do all in our combined power to resume business as usual. It is mine and my husband’s strong belief that with no household members to shield, we have a civic duty to rebuild our economy and country for the good of our children. I appreciate that if your partner is diabetic, or your child is asthmatic, then you may not be able to get back to work as soon as you would like. Everyone else needs to do all in their power to work and work hard!
The third reason is children deserve a ‘normal’ childhood. I want my children to have what I had. I want them running on the school field in their gingham summer dresses, making daisy chains in the sunshine and laughing with their friends. You don’t get these years back and I’m determined for them to have a normal childhood, uncorrupted by media driven hysteria.
So, in short, my two went back today.
WRITTEN BY AMANDA GOODHEW
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5th Jun 2020

Heightened anxieties in the workplace…

Heightened anxieties in the workplace…

…now there’s a prospect for all of us to consider.  It’s certainly a challenging time for employers and employees alike.  Whether operating at home or in the office, staying focused on the task at hand may seem daunting at times.  Noticing this with a measure of understanding can help.

Meeting clients online requires familiarisation with various technologies, whilst getting to grips with working in a disembodied way. But it also provides an opportunity to improve skills and become more agile online to help clients even more.

Many of us working from home might be feeling a sense of displacement, whilst others may be reluctant to venture into the office in person.  Whatever the situation, keeping connected to one another is key as is maintaining the healthiest of work relationships.

 

WRITTEN BY ALEX COLLINS

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2nd Apr 2020

The Art All Around Us

The Art All Around Us

Having recently joined Red Sofa London, I am getting to see more and more of Shoreditch each day I’m in the office. It was not an area I visited much in the past, usually gravitating around Covent Garden or South London but what an eye opener our neighbourhood really is.

One of the great aspects of Shoreditch’s ever changing landscape is the amazing collection of Street Art / Graffiti. Not only is it for the most part of very high quality – real art on the walls – but it changes on an almost daily basis.

From the photo-realistic (top of pic) to paid for advertising created by hand in a matter of a few days (middle right) to more intricate B&W art (bottom left) – examples of startling colour and intricate work are all around.

The Spenser Netflix Ad (middle right) is almost next door to the Red Sofa offices and was hand painted by two artists in late Feb/early March – I wish I had taken pics on the days before it was finished to really show it in progress. Also not sure it shows the scale of the thing – it’s huge!

I’ve posted photos of Graffiti before in the tunnel at Leake St SE1 (link below) but somehow the street art in Shoreditch is more exciting. You can turn a street corner to be confronted by a new piece of art on any given day. The walk past Shoreditch High St. station almost has a gallery feel to it – the Einstein-esque pic at the top was there before we adopted remote working – I don’t expect to see it again but am looking forward to seeing what will replace it.

Of course Street Art is not restricted to Shoreditch but it certainly has an abundance of it – you can even take a free tour of the ”best” spots (link below).

Keep your eyes open people, when you take your one walk for exercise a day, look out for what has been created wherever you are. There could be a masterpiece hidden just around the corner.

Here’s a list of links to a few Street Art related sites:

Shoreditch 10 best streets – Click here

2019 A year in street art London – Click here

Shoreditch street tour (closed at mo) – Click here

Visit London Street Art – Click here

graffiti_life – insta – Click here

Leake Street SE1 – Click here

WRITTEN BY MARTIN KING

 

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30th Mar 2020

Lockdown Time Put To Good Use…

Lockdown Time Put To Good Use…

So we’re all on lockdown and The Boredom Gremlin has been hitting us all over the head with his anxiety mallet for the last couple of weeks. No one knows what’s going on, how long we’ll be stuck cleaning out the same closet for the fourteenth time in two weeks or waiting until we can once again sample the sweet nectar of the local public house. Oh please lord, what I wouldn’t give to listen to the drunken ramblings of Dodgy Ken sat cracking-wise about how things were so much better in his day. Anything would be better than the constant hum of my own refrigerator slowly trying to drive me insane.

But fear not friends, this is time that can be put to good use. Sadly I can’t advise on the most recent mindfulness app or give you recipes to make your own soda bread. I can however point you in the direction of a few places you can look to drain a few hours practicing some new software and sharpening your creative skills so when the glorious day of release arrives you’ll be ready to tackle all the projects that come flooding in like a boss.

Most of these you will get an introductory course or two for free but will then have to pay a subscription fee which, understandably, may not be the most appealing thing right now given we don’t know how long this work drought will continue so there’s a smattering of freebies and video blogs you can learn along with thrown in there as well.

Let’s start with the most obvious ones. Adobe and LinkedIn both run various online training courses with an abundance of different software to spruce up on. If you have an Adobe CC license you can access all of their training courses for no extra charge.

LinkedIn Learning has a vast array of assets you can learn from and you get the first month for free.

https://www.linkedin.com/learning/

The Futur is a US based educational site for all things creative. They can teach you everything from software skills to tips on billing clients and how best to run your independent business. There’s a whole host of free tutorials and videos on the site and some more deep-dive courses that do cost, one-off fees rather than subscription though.

https://thefutur.com/

Bring Your Own Laptop is a site with all kinds of software training. Subscriptions can be paid for monthly or annually. They cover the whole Adobe Suite and also have some specialist courses in different fundamentals of digital design, UX and programming.

https://www.bringyourownlaptop.com/

Skillshare is an amazing platform, this one is not just for career advancement, this is a blast if you’re looking for something just to pass the time. You can learn anything from Photoshop to knitting and everything in between. Go on, why not knit yourself a scarf or a new housecoat, you’ve got the time.

https://www.skillshare.com/

Udemy comes highly recommended from multiple sources and is another amazing platform that offers education on all software, skillsets, and just general tips and tricks in managing a business. This is another that costs but they run various Flash Sales so if you keep a sharp eye you can land yourself a really good deal.

https://www.udemy.com/

Motion Design School is certainly worth your time if animation is something you’re looking to get in to or just fine tune those skills. Software tutorials as well as specialist courses on kinetic type, logo animation, creating AR. This list goes on. Not the cheapest courses in the world but there are some free introductory lessons and they do keep an updated “offers” page it’s worth keeping an eye on.

https://motiondesign.school/

Hello Luxx is another one in the animation space but these guys focus on 3D and visualization. A huge catalogue of facilities for you to choose from covering 3D texturing, compositing etc and covering all kinds of different software. They also do Friday Freebies with links to free video tutorials.

https://helloluxx.com/

Super Hi is a very handy place to start if you’re looking for some interesting courses, particularly on the coding side of things. They do offer various modules on design, branding, project management and so on but their digital courses seem to be something of a specialism. Some introductory packages and freebies but these will be longer term courses that come at a cost.

https://www.superhi.com/

Learn Squared have some exceptional courses to wet your whistle if you’re into illustration either with a pencil / pen or a Wacom tablet. They also offer courses on design and animation but the real selling point here appears to be the illustration aside of things. Until May 30th 2020 they’re offering the first class of each course for free and there’s over 300 to choose from.

https://www.learnsquared.com/

So there you have it, a few places to help you learn a little something and offer a little light in an otherwise dark time. This list was curated through recommendations from our expansive network of freelancers and creatives and we would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who offered up suggestions, your help is hugely appreciated.

Finally, before I dash off, if you get tired of self-improvement and just want ideas on how to kill a few hours from the comfort of your couch why not check some of these out… thanks Keith!

http://socratic.org – Learn chemistry and physics.

http://favoriteandforget.com – A curation of useful links.

http://duolingo.com – App which really makes studying new languages fun.

http://codecademy.com – Learn to code interactively, for free.

http://chesscademy.com – Free videos and interactive exercises helping you to learn playing chess well.

http://justinguitar.com – Over 850 completely free guitar lessons.

http://freerice.com – Learn vocabulary while you feed the hungry.

http://instructables.com – Makes, How To, and DIY

http://producthunt.com – An aggregator for creators.

You can have fun:

http://spruuce.com – Fun and interesting products and websites.

http://sporcle.com – Trivia quizzes.

http://www.snesfun.com/ – Play old Nintendo games.

http://www.getworkdonemusic.com/ – Pretty much in the title.

http://thenicestplaceontheinter.net/ – Really nice!

http://tastekid.com – Find movies to match your tastes.

http://lang-8.com – You correct entries written by foreigners learning English, and you can also write your own entries (it could be about anything) in a language you’re studying, and speakers of whatever language you’re learning correct it for you. You make tons of friends too

BY ALISTAIR KIRKBY

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30th Mar 2020

Bringing a bit of App-iness to social distancing.

Bringing a bit of App-iness to social distancing.

Here’s my top 3 app recommendations, to keep you from going a bit Jack Torrance over the coming weeks…

Houseparty

houseparty.com

Two weeks ago, nobody had ever heard of it, now I’m getting invites from my Mum’s 87 year old neighbour to join him and his family in a game of virtual Pictionary. Houseparty offers you a way to connect with a group of friends (or complete strangers, if that’s your thing), without actually having to be in a room with the grubby little beggers. Get the beers in, and self isolate in company, with a round or two of Chips and Guac.

Google Arts and Culture

artsandculture.google.com

It’s an absolute masterpiece of an App (pun fully intended). Take virtual tours of some of the most famous museums in the world. Create your own personal collection, and share with friends. You can even find your art doppelganger, with the Art Selfie feature – Mine’s Benet Mercadé’s “Waitress” (I shaved my beard in a moment of isolation madness, and am apparently very feminine now)

Disney+

www.disneyplus.com

This one is hardly going under the radar, but it still deserves a mention. Disney’s answer to Netflix; featuring titles from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic’s back catalogue, as well as some excellent originals like The Mandalorian and The World According to Jeff Goldblum. It’s already kept me and my boy occupied for a number of hours, since it’s launch on Tuesday. Worth every penny of the £5.99 monthly subscription.

So that’s it, 3 apps to keep you occupied until June, and not a fitness tracker or meditation mentor in sight. Enjoy, stay safe, and I’ll see you on the other side!

BY TOM EDWARDS

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27th Feb 2020

PAW PATROL

PAW PATROL

Who wouldn’t LOVE to bring their dog to work with them…?

Who wouldn’t like to be around dogs 24/7…?

Well…here at RedSofa London, we LOVE dogs and are fortunate that we can bring our dogs to work with us.

Here are a few that come and visit us at the RedSofa finance office in Rugby!!

They brighten up our day and we LOVE having them here….

First up is our DAISY!! Daisy spends every day at the finance office in rugby. Daisy is so chilled, LOVES her treat after a lunch time walk and loves getting muddy with any opportunity.

Next up is our two smaller dogs Medusa and Zeus that come to visit us once a week in Rugby! Don’t be fooled though by their size…these dogs have a big bark to them and are great protective dogs. They love sitting on our laps whilst we work, and they are like little hot water bottles which are great for us in the winter.

 

Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never owned a dog.”

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11th Oct 2019

Top Four Universities to Study Architecture in the UK

Top Four Universities to Study Architecture in the UK

It is always really difficult when deciding which university will provide the best education for you. I have found the top 4 universities in the UK for Architecture. This is according to the complete university guide’s Architecture League Table 2020.

 

1: Bath

The University of Bath has featured at the top of the Architecture UK university rankings a number of times. It is very competitive and certainly held in high regard. In a study to evaluate graduate destination and employers in 2017, leavers went on to secure roles with some of the notable firms such AHMM, Grimshaw and Purcell. Very impressive!

https://www.bath.ac.uk/departments/department-of-architecture-civil-engineering/

 

 

2: Cambridge

Their architecture department specializes in urban and contextual design, teaching, and sustainable building design research. It is no secret that The University of Cambridge is extremely well known and the conditions to securing a position are definitely no walk in the park. They are known to have some of the highest rates of employment across Architecture departments an impressive 98% of graduates securing employment/further study 6 months after graduating and even more impressive, a 85% of graduates going directly into employment.

https://www.arct.cam.ac.uk/

 

 

3: Sheffield

They provide undergraduate degrees in Architecture, and Architecture and Landscape. They also offer the chance to opt for the four-year MEng degree in Structural Engineering and Architecture. The University of Sheffield have excellent links with the architecture profession through their industry partnerships and their network of graduates. They often have guest lectures from Architects who lead some of the UK’s top practices. They also host a Summer Exhibition employer’s event; this allows final year students to meet architects who are actively looking to employ graduates.

https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/architecture

 

 

4: UCL

It is no surprise that every year, the world-renowned Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London are listed as one of the top universities in the UK for Architecture. I mean, they are situated amongst some of England’s most well known structures. So it is safe to say, there will be no lack of inspiration! Earlier this year, they launched a new 5 years integrated masters degree and have started to accept application as of this month! This is an accelerated model, compressing the part 1 and 2 route, along with a final year on placement into a 5-year consecutive course.

 

There you have it! The top four universities rated for 2019, if you are looking to have a career within Architecture, you can certainly add these to your lists!

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/

By Sonet Mudiliya

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17th Jul 2019

Four must see unusual buildings in Europe!

Four must see unusual buildings in Europe!

by Sonet Mudiliyar

 

I have been doing some research into some of the most unusual buildings in Europe which are all stunning buildings and unique in their own right.

So if you find yourself booking a trip to Poland, Belguim, Czech Republic or Spain – here’s something for you to do!

 

Sopot, Poland

Krzywy Domek is a building in Sopot, Poland. It is 43,000 sq ft, built in 2004 and designed by Szotyńscy & Zaleski. This building that looks like something straight out of a fairy tale houses restaurants, shops, and a radio station. If you find yourself in Sopot – be sure to check out this warped building.

 

Brussels,Belguim 

Atomuim is a landmark building in Brussels, Belguim. It is stands 102 m (335 ft) tall. Its nine 18 m (60 ft) diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected, so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It was designed by engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak. It contains a restaurant and also provides stunning panoramic views of Brussels. Be sure to check this landmark off your list when you visit!

 

Prague, Czech Republic 

The Dancing House is a nickname given to Nationale-Nederlanden building on the Rašín Embankment. The building was co designed by architect Vlado Milunić and architect Frank Gehry. The building was designed in 1992 and completed in 1996.The building consists of nine floors of predominately offices, a hotel and a restaurant. This is definitely a must see in Brussels.

 

Bilbao, Spain

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is of course situated in Bilbao, Spain. The 350,000 sq ft building was designed by architect Frank Gehry. When the musuem opened to the public in 1997, it was immediately hailed as one of the world’s most spectacular buildings in the style of Deconstructivism. It is a combination of interconnecting shapes of stone, glass and titanium. It is completely eye catching and happens to be right next to the water. If you are planning a boat tour, be sure to swing by and check this beauty out!

There you have it, these are in my opinion are some of the most bizarre yet intriguing buildings I have seen. Whether you can appreciate all of their architectural complexities or just simply find them an eye soar – either way it will capture your attention!

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28th May 2019

Interviewing!

Interviewing!

It is completely natural to feel anxious or nervous ahead of a big interview. Fear gets the better of most of us from time to time. You’re sat in front of your new potential boss and might be scared to say the wrong thing. So I have prepared 3 tips to help you during interviews.

 

1. Research is key. You need to do your research, this is your chance to shine! Now when I say research, I don’t mean the type of research you would do for a school project, where you would hit up Wikipedia and regurgitate it word for word. No no – this won’t do. I mean going on to the companies website and writing down 5 facts.

For me I find the best 5 facts are company name, year founded, directors, locations/countries of offices and lastly any noticeable awards/achievements. Of course this can vary with the type of company and industry. Once you have the 5 facts, then just spend time memorising them and then try to use them in the conversation naturally. Also use the facts to ask questions, if asked why did you choose to apply? (common question). You could say; I thought it was really impressive when I saw that the company was only founded in 2015 but it’s now the leading company in the industry. I can also see you have just opened two offices, one in USA and other in Canada – whats next? Don’t ever think you can skip this step, even if you have had a lot of interview practice and you are a very confident person. I can guarantee 9 times out of 10 companies would appreciate the homework because it goes a long way!

 

2. Slow and steady wins the race! Now I am not sure if you are like me and speak at the speed of light but slowing down will help a lot. It will make you seem more relaxed, more confident and actually allow you to get your message understood. My 3 top tips for slowing down are simple;

a) Controlling your breathing. Taking deep breaths before the interview and during the interview, and when listening to the interviewer speak. This will calm you down and have you thinking clearly.

b) Pausing before you speak, will help if you normally start speaking as soon someone stops. This can be an issue as you might not have given yourself enough time to think about the best answer. You might find yourself waffling on and then half way through you have completely gone off on a tangent – you find yourself asking, Sorry what was the question again. It is easy to avoid this,

it just takes practice! I would say waiting 3 seconds would help. 1, 2, 3 – Answer!

c) Having a drink of water? Seems random but actually making sure you are hydrated and drinking water helps more than you would think. You will be doing a lot of talking and putting that voice box to work, best to have the water to sip in between questions. It also helps to pace yourself when answering questions, if you have been listening for a while and it is your time to speak, taking a sip will give you time to think of an answer sometimes!

 

3. Keeping it professional! I know all interviews are different and have completely different styles but I would not suggest going straight into the interview talking about the latest episode of Game of thrones or talking about what a heavy night it was last night at the pub. Most would think this is common sense but when you are nervous, you sometimes cannot control it. Most structures for interviews will ask talk about them and what they do, talk about you (work history), talk about the role, talk about you in the role, answer any questions and then lastly get to know you as a person (hobbies). As you can tell it is most likely right at the end and once they have a good idea of your professional history and ambitions. My advice would be to remember no matter how friendly the conversation at the end is, they are not your friends so bare that in mind and remember it is still an interview.

I hope the tips above are helpful in securing your dream job. I guarantee if you follow these tips and be yourself, you will feel calmer and present your self in the best, most professional way.

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29th Mar 2019

What is the best bus route to see some of London’s best sights?

What is the best bus route to see some of London’s best sights?

I was recently discussing this subject in the office and was roundly and (probably rightly) accused of being a massive geek for doing so. The thing is though; I love taking a bus through town, much more so than the underground.

Yes, the underground is quicker. I’ll give you that. However if you are like me and hate the crowds, the feeling of being fired through a tunnel in a sardine can and the infuriating people who walk through tube stations on their phone getting in your way – the bus is better.

And the king of all bus routes is the number 11, Fulham Town Hall to Bank.

Why?  To start in some of the wealthiest areas of the capital with their amazing townhouses and gardens and to finish in the financial capital of the world with it’s skyscrapers, grand old banks and trading houses is a great watch from the top deck, all for £1.20 as well.

Some of the journey’s key sights to look out for on the way are:

  • Parliament Square (for Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben)

  • Whitehall (for 10 Downing St & Horse Guards Parade & St James’s Park)

  • Trafalgar Square (for the National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery)

  • The Strand (for Covent Garden)

  • Fleet St (for Temple Church)

  • St Paul’s Churchyard (for St Paul’s Cathedral, the Museum of London, the Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern)

So the next time you find yourself at a lose end hop on a number 11 bus, get one of the best seats right at the front on the top deck, put that great new album you’ve just discovered in your ears and enjoy the greatest London bus route!

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22nd Mar 2019

Local restaurant review #4 Cecconis

Local restaurant review #4 Cecconis

We recently visited Cecconis Shoreditch for a team lunch after it opened a few months back; we have heard nothing but recommendations and good reviews so we decided to check it out for ourselves.

Cecconis is nestled in the bohemian enclave of Redchurch Street in Shoreditch and as we stepped off Redchurch Street Into the spacious foyer area enclosed by a stunning Art Deco bar, the interior is simple but elegant and takes you right to the heart of Northern Italy.

We were greeted by the charming Maitre’D who showed us to our table and talked us through the specials. Our waitress was friendly, engaging and helpful and took her time to talk us through menu. We started with a selection of entres to share: The zuchini fritti with lemon aioli were incredibly light and crispy, the waitress recommended the Truffle Arancini which was superb, and the burrata with cherry tomatoes and basil was as juicy as they come and was complimented by the spicy tomato king prawns.

For mains my friends chose the black truffle wood fired pizza, which was exquisite and was more than enough for one, and could easily be shared. My other friend had the Atlantic Cod with cannellini beans, nduja and mussells. the fish was a little dry but still very palatable and the mussels were cooked to perfection; light and full of texture. I plumped for the Seabass with confit tomato and basil “guazetto” The seabass was cooked in its juices and was moist and full of flavour, I would highly recommend the black truffle pizza or the seabass. We had a bottle of the Soave Classico which really complimented the sea bass particularly well

After the mains we were all so full we decided against a dessert but were immediately harangued by our colleagues as we arrived back to the office for not sampling the “luxurious” desserts, which by all accounts are “superb” aswell. Atleast we shall have something to look forward to next time….

Cecconis

58-60 Redchurch St, Shoreditch, London E2 7DP

Lunch for 4 people (including drinks and tips) £95

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15th Mar 2019

Interior design Instagram profiles for inspiration!

Interior design Instagram profiles for inspiration!

We all have those moments where we want a change. Change can come in many forms but the biggest change after health or career – would of course be your home.

If we look into why; in the average week (Monday to Sunday), we have a total of 168 hours. When we break this down (on average), we spend 50 hours working (including commuting), 25 hours socialising (including weekends), 5 hours working out and rest is spend at home. That’s around 88 hours spent in your home, of course this includes on average 49 hours we sleep but this is still a large amount of time.

So this got me thinking.. What type of changes would we want in the home? Well before we get to thinking about revamping, de-cluttering or getting our fengshui on, we all need a little bit of inspiration first to warm up the engine.

I have searched Instagram and want to share three of my favourite Interior Design pages to get your creative juices flowing.

 

1.

Name: @Jungalow

Followers: 1.1M followers

Theme: Indoor plants inspiration and decoration

Summary: If you have green fingers and love plants both inside and outside – this is gram for you. Their images will have you running to nearest Homebase or B&Q.

Fun fact plants are not only good for environment but some have added health benefits main one being the ability to reduce everyday stresses/strains. So next time you have a stressful day, curl up next to a lavender plant!

 

2.

Name: @Inspire_me_home_decor

Followers: 5.5M followers

Theme: High End Home Decor Inspiration

Details of Founder: The Founder is @Farahjmerhi

Summary: They feature dream living spaces tailored to everyone. Whether you looking for Contemporary, Modern or Shabby Chic – they have it all. If you just want inspiration for a visually/aesthetically appealing space for killer gram pictures or a beautiful family home – check them out.

 

3.

Name: @ettoresottsass

Followers: 110k

Theme: Home and Art Inspiration (Bold colours)

 Details of Founder: @Raquelcayre

Summary: If you’re love bright colours and not afraid to show it – this gram is for you. Their use of pop colours combinations will not only inspire you to create beautiful spaces but will also have your rooms looking revitalised and full of energy.

So thats it, they are of some of my favourite pages for inspiration. As you can tell, these are of course aimed all you do-it-yourselfers. Next time I will share my top 5 Interior Design companies in the UK that create home spaces for you. Keep your eyes pealed!

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12th Mar 2019

Marmite Architecture

Marmite Architecture

Love and hatred needn’t be confined to a black sticky paste, it can be applied to buildings.

Love them or hate them, here is my top 5 of the UK’s Marmite gems.

 

  • 20 Ambleside Avenue property

This one has to be top of my list, with many mixed reviews, this low energy family home based in a conservation area in South London looks like a mini factory to me, with the red bricks and solar panels on the top, I certainly could not see myself living there, but there are a lot of lovers of this building out there and it definitely stands out a building you wont forget it you ever pass it.

https://www.bdonline.co.uk/carbuncle-cup/carbuncle-cup-20-ambleside-avenue-london-by-pace-jefford-moore-architects-/5095009.article

 

  • Unite Stratford City

Having lived in Stratford city myself, the Unite student accommodation building was not a development that I was fond off to begin with but the more I looked at it, it really grew on me. What do you think?

http://www.bdp.com/en/projects/p-z/unite-stratford-one/

 

  • The Renaissance Hotel

This hotel in Deansgate Manchester, I must say leaves a very sour taste in my mouth, this to me looks like an old run down block of apartments that needs to be demolished and re started, but in saying that many Architects still love this building and say if it was cleaned up it could go back to its former glory.

Could you picture a getaway in this Manchester Hotel?

https://www.google.com/search?q=renaissance+hotel+manchester+deansgate&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQ9Mi5pvDgAhUqShUIHSOsAd8Q_AUIDygC&biw=1440&bih=821#imgrc=Ray6RIUsHjBl9M:

 

  • Walkie Talkie building

This building certainly causes some controversy, with many people that love the building and others just think it’s outrageous. I personally think it’s very quirky and cool and creative, it looks to me like a bit like very large version of an actual walkie talkie.

https://www.google.com/search?q=walkie+talkie+building&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwir46SyqvDgAhWEr3EKHaiWAt4Q_AUIDigB&biw=1440&bih=821#imgrc=vUmoahgwPswy3M:

 

  • The Shard

Number 5 for me is The Shard building, also referred too as Shard of glass is the tallest building in United Kingdom and the tallest building in the European union. Having been to the restaurant (Aqua Shard) I must say I like the building, but this has caused some controversy with people saying its an imposing landmark. What are your thoughts?

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/jul/04/the-shard-skyline-landmark

 

So there you go, five monstrosities or 5 masterpieces, I make no apology for highlighting theses marmite structure’s as it is better to Architecture that is outstanding then buildings that are bland and safe.

What are your top 5 Marmite buildings?

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22nd Feb 2019

Concrete is cool – our favourites!

Concrete is cool – our favourites!

We recently posted a Guardian news article across our social media channels about “how concrete became the ultimate lifestyle concept.” It’s true – concrete has never
been cooler!

Therefore we have compiled a list of our favourite concrete builds.
The Barbican Estate, London – no list of concrete structures would be complete without the mammoth, brutalism beauty that is the Barbican Estate. Designed by
architecture firm Chamberlin, Powell and Bon the sprawling estate was built in an area that was devastated by WWII and is well worth it’s Grade II listed status.
https://thespaces.com/brutalist-beauty-the-barbican-estates-value-soars/

 

Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town – 100 years+ of concrete structures to choose from and this gem by Heatherwick Studio was only completed last year means it must be good to make our list. It is good. It’s incredible. A recent addition to Time Out’s top 50 experiences in the world as well as numerous architecture awards and accolades I
would go so far as saying it’s my favourite Heatherwick project to date.
http://www.heatherwick.com/project/zeitz-mocaa/

 

Boston City Hall, Boston – Opened in 1968 this brutalism gem has been heavily criticised over the years for it’s blunt and harsh exterior but I love it. Architects Gerhard Kallmann and Michael McKinnell were tasked to produce a City Hall that imposed and impressed and it certainly does that.
https://www.architectmagazine.com/design/buildings/architects-look-forward-and-back-at-boston-city-hall-and-plaza_o

 

Falling Water, Pennsylvania – possibly the most famous concrete building ever and certainly one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most loved buildings this beautiful structure is
on most architecture geeks must see before you die lists. Exquisite. Did you know Wright is rumoured to have sketched the design for this property in just two hours?
Wow!
https://mymodernmet.com/frank-lloyd-wright-fallingwater-house/

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24th Jan 2019

TOP 10 BRITISH RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE PROJECTS OF 2018 

TOP 10 BRITISH RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE PROJECTS OF 2018 

As we welcome 2019, Architecture Consultant Hannah has been looking at some of the new and exciting projects coming up this year and also reflecting on her favourite British architecture residential projects of 2018. 

 

For those looking to transform their homes and in need of some inspiration take a look now at Hannah’s top 10 projects of 2018.

 

– Lochside House 

https://www.haysomwardmiller.co.uk/photos-8/lochside_house.html

 

15 Clerkenwell Close (Mixed-use office and residential)

http://groupwork.uk.com/#

 

Weybridge property

http://www.hobandesign.co.uk/projects/weybridge

 

Cannon place

https://minaleandmann.com/residential-portfolio/cannon-place/

 

Manhatten loft gardens Stratford city

https://www.som.com/projects/manhattan_loft_gardens

 

– 3 Bedroom property in East London

http://www.martanowicka.com/

 

Glass box

https://www.guarnieri.co.uk/#/projects/victorian-remix/

 

Queens Gate sky home

https://risedesignstudio.co.uk/projects/index.php/queens-gate-sky-home/

 

Beaulieu Keep

https://www.tatehindle.co.uk/projects/beaulieu/

 

Old Shed New house

http://www.tonkinliu.co.uk/project/old-shed-new-house

 

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4th Jan 2019

New year, fresh start?

New year, fresh start?

2019 is upon us! We’ve all had our fill of partying over the festive break and I don’t know about you but I don’t want to see another cheese board until at least March…

The new year brings fresh hopes and dreams for the next 12 months. Grand plans to maybe change your lifestyle, book that holiday adventure you’ve always wanted to go on or even move home. We can’t directly help you with any of that but what we can do is help to change your career, the foundation for which everything else can follow.

I’m often asked by family friends when is the best time to look for a new job. The answer to that is easy, whenever you’re truly ready to commit to making that move. A lot of people like to flirt with change but when it comes to the crunch it’s “just not the right time.”

January is as close to the perfect time as ever. Christmas and new year are out of the way, everyone is taking a break from spending, the kids are back at school and the bleakness of winter keeps us all indoors. So take full advantage of the crappiest month of the year and make that change.

I’ll give you a tip – I like to ask candidates I work with to write down a list of everything they want from a new role; responsibilities, commute distance, salary, benefits, hours, social scene, everything! Then rank those in order from most important to least important. Be completely honest, there really is no point in fooling yourself. When you have a list take it with you when you meet your recruitment consultant for the first time. They will love your organisation and efficiency. Trust me!

All of our consultants have been doing their job for a long time. They know their markets and they have great relationships with their clients. Want to chat through your list with us? Give us a call.

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2nd Jan 2019

Commonly asked questions and advice for candidates: Portfolios and presenting your work

Commonly asked questions and advice for candidates: Portfolios and presenting your work

What do clients look for in a portfolio?

 

Here at BlackSofa, we try to work on fewer jobs so that we can spend more time with our clients and candidates to provide them with a more personal and higher quality service. We pride ourselves on meeting ALL of our candidates on a personal level and take our time to look and talk through portfolios with candidates and spend as much time as it takes to understand you and your work, giving feedback and advice on what is a very personal subject, your portfolio (Your greatest hits album!)

 

We ask all candidates to present their portfolios to us, as:

  1. a) This gives us a much clearer understanding of your work and allows us to help you find suitable studios to match your requirements and passions
  2. b) Allows us to provide constructive feedback on your presentations and help improve presenting skills as most design interviews will involve presenting your portfolio. Presenting projects is also an important skill to have when presenting to clients or pitching for new business, and will become more prevalent as you rise through the ranks.

 

I specialise in landscape architecture, urban design and planning so my advice will be particularly aimed at those fields but the examples will be interchangeable and apply equally to other architecture and design specialisms.

 

What do you want to convey in your portfolio?

 

Designers are rightfully very proud and protective of their portfolios as it should encapsulate your career to date. A good portfolio should display as broad a range of experience, designs, sectors and software’s as possible, and should also demonstrate an evolution of your experience and career. I am often asked: “Should I include university work in my portfolio? And Should I include projects or graphics that were collaborative or outsourced?” The short answer to both questions is YES!

 

I still work with some leading directors in the industry who are still proud of projects they completed at university and include these in their portfolio today to show the evolution of their work. As with explaining any design process (which I will come to later) it is not about where you end up that clients want to see but how you got there, and showing the evolution of yourself through your work and projects is a useful way of explaining who you are through your experiences.

 

A portfolio should also mirror in some ways a development brochure/report i.e have a professional mixture of images, technical details, renders and text supporting and explaining your design process and concept, whilst simultaneously telling the story of the project. it should not be a selection of unrelated images! Though not all of the images or text on the page need to be your own.

 

Almost all professional projects are collaborative processes; this should not stop you including outsourced renders or other people’s contributions. Just be honest when explaining your contribution to the interviewer, for example: “ I was responsible for the conceptual design with directorial supervision, the renders were outsourced and I led on the design code while my colleague led on the technical detailing”

 

An easy way to give the reader or interviewer a brief overview of each project, is having a corner box or header laying out the client, sub consultants, location, project brief i.e Residential masterplan for 250 units in Sevenoaks, Kent for Barrett homes (fictional example of course!). This sounds obvious but will save you time explaining to your interviewers the basic overview of every project, giving you more time to explain your design process and responsibilities on the project. It also adds to the impression of clarity and a professional layout.

 

Who is your audience?

 

The key to any interview is understanding your audience i.e the studio and role you are interviewing for. I will always give you a detailed briefing on any studio prior to interview, and provide links to the studios projects, who you will be meeting, and what they will look for from you. However personal research is also important to get a better understanding of the studio for yourself and to evaluate: What skill sets/experience are they looking for from you? What are their specialities/key project areas? It is often a good idea to have a few projects that you can interchange into your portfolio to demonstrate various skill sets, sector experience, project stages worked on and software used.

 

Interviews and portfolios rely on the interviewers or readers perceptions, so if you do not demonstrate various skill sets, stages, sectors etc how is the interviewer meant to know you have that experience? So always try and demonstrate a broad selection but also tailor your samples to the specific client/role. For instance if the job spec is looking for a senior landscape architect to lead on technical detailing and you know the studio predominantly works on residential projects using Revit. If you have experience in these areas, it stands to reason that your chances of securing the role increase exponentially if you include and highlight projects that demonstrate these skill sets.

 

Some candidate’s work on very similar projects due to the nature of the studio they work for. However if this is the case, for example an urban designer who has predominantly worked on greenfield residential masterplans. It is beneficial to include as much diversity as possible to showcase the range of your abilities, whether this is displaying any other sector projects you have worked on at previous studios such as health, residential, mixed use etc, different RIBA stages worked on (clients like to see experience in as many RIBA stages as possible) so it is always good to highlight this when you are presenting in an interview.

 

Another question I get asked a lot is by candidates working on predominantly international projects is “How do I make my portfolio more attractive to studios working on primarily or solely UK projects?” The answer to this is to highlight the UK projects you have worked on in your portfolio and spend more time presenting these in an interview to demonstrate you understand the differences between working on International projects vs UK projects it is easy to get pigeon holed by employers as you could have an incredible portfolio of doing ground breaking projects that you would never get the scope to work on in the UK such as masterplanning a new city for 50,000 people in Africa or landscaping a Middle Eastern Princes palace. But the reality is that the scale, scope and differences in working on these projects have little relevance to most UK projects which are on a completely different scale.

 

If you are looking for a new role and it is likely you will be interviewing at maybe a few studios, it is worthwhile practicing presenting your portfolio. As with anything in life, the more times you do it, the better you become at it. Not everyone is naturally comfortable or confident standing up and presenting to strangers in an interview, this is only natural and can be easily improved! I say to all candidates who are interviewing, ask your partner or house mate if you can pour them a drink and sit them down for 20 minutes whilst you present your portfolio to them, the more you do it the more comfortable you become doing it and start to build up a flow, you will find the words will come more easily when under pressure in an interview.

 

You will probably not have time to present your entire portfolio in depth at an interview so it is best to pick out maybe 3-4 projects which are the most relevant to that specific client as explained above, and present those projects in a good level of detail. Luckily the vast majority of candidates I work with are incredibly passionate about what they do and this really shines through when they present. This is one of the most attractive qualities to display for a candidate. However sometimes with incredible passion (which is definitely a good thing) it can be easy to “waffle” in these situations and end up not getting your point across concisely, so try and approach every project with a structure. For example for each project break it down into 4 stages:

 

  1. Brief overview of the project: Listing Client, collaborations with other studios/sub consultants, project brief and objective.
  2. Responsibilities: Discus the stage or stages your studio and you personally worked on and what your personal responsibilities were in each stage, highlighting particular images/reports in the portfolio that you were responsible for
  3. Explain your design process: outlining parameters and breaking the process down; explaining site constraints, influencing factors such as client demands to increase profits, how did you go about solvingthese issues?
  4. Current project update: for example: I/we completed conceptual design, then passed it on to XYZ who developed our concept in this way, the project is now in phase 2 of construction, was there anything you learned or would have done differently? (You may have to look this up if you were involved in an earlier stage and the project is still on-going, but it is nice to finish the story in any presentation, and shows you took an interest and pride in the wider project, not just your bit)

 

What medium should I present my Portfolio on?

 

This is purely down to personal preference, and it essentially comes down to what you are most comfortable presenting. As long as you don’t walk in with some creased A4 pages hot off the office printer press you should be OK. But obviously the aim is to reflect professionalism, clarity and a high level of presentation. My personal preference is either:

 

  • A3 leather bound ring binder as it looks very smart (but remember to adjust printing for the middle section of double page spreads as they tend to get sucked into the bind and can be hard to see and can take time away from your presentation)
  • Presenting on an Ipad or projector as its easier to present without having to turn pages, so is easier to build up a flow presenting. Though please note if you want to present on a projector ask your recruiter to ensure they have that facility.

 

All the advice listed above is fairly obvious and is essentially just common sense, but I hope it may help in some small way.

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7th Dec 2018

AJ Awards

AJ Awards

What a great evening at the AJ Architecture awards

 

A lovely venue with amazing food and surrounded by talented architects. What more can you ask for a Tuesday evening?

 

This week BlackSofa had the honour of attending the AJ Architecture awards at the stunning Roundhouse in Camden. In only the second year of this event it was and will continue to be a great success.

 

The evening kicked off with welcome drinks on the terraces above the main seating area giving us a chance to mingle with architectures great and good. Shortly afterwards we were seated with our hosts – the AJ and treated to a beautiful 3 course meal of artichoke crème brulee tart, confit duck leg and then a deconstructed banoffee pie – yum!

 

The award ceremony started at 9:30 with Sally Phillips being the special host and she certainly stole the show for me, with her humour and witty architecture comments, she certainly had a the audience laughing!

 

A huge congratulations to all the practices who were nominated and those that won an award, there were some truly amazing work out there.

 

Here’s to another year of the AJ Architecture Awards – cheers!

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30th Nov 2018

Local Restaurant Review #3 Cornerstone

Local Restaurant Review #3 Cornerstone

Last week, one of our favourite candidates agreed to join one of our best clients. A really perfect match of ideas, vision and ambition that we were quietly confident of as soon as we got the brief! After hands were shaken and contracts were signed we all wanted to celebrate and as we are all big foodies we decided to head over to Hackney and visit Tom Brown’s new restaurant – Cornerstone.

 

We had all read so much hype about the place in the press that expectations were becoming unfairly high on Team Tom Brown. Fair play to them though they really did smash their set menu out of the park!

 

We started with Oysters that were in a delicious, fresh green sauce that looked odd but tasted wonderful. It may sound strange to mention the butter that came with the bread whilst we waited for starters but that butter was out of this world tasty. I’d go back for the bread and butter alone.

 

What I would also go back for time and time again is the cured bream dish and smokehouse salmon – both a great testement to technique and timing to the chefs. As a northerner who has a special love for crumpets I’d been looking forward to the Potted Shrimp Crumpet, our final starter. It was tasty but the shrimp sauce made the crumpet kind of soggy which was a shame.

 

Onto mains – again we were wowed. Grey Mullet with spiced aubergine puree, basil and ginger. Cider Braised Cuttlefish with lentil, apple and spring onion dressing. Line caught Cod with Hollandaise. What could be better than any of that from a fish restaurant? The desserts were lovely too, the highlight from the selection being the Cornish Mille Feuille.

 

The wine list was excellent as well as reasonable and our waitress (who was on her first day) was extremely helpful and knowledgeable which really contributed to first class experience. We left to have a few beers at the local breweries of Hackney Wick feeling that those high expectations were met and more.

 

Cornerstone

3 Prince Edward Road, E9 5LX

Lunch for 3 people (including wine and tip) £225

BlackSofa Rating – 5/5 Gherkins

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1st Nov 2018

A SIGN OF OUR SUCCESS

A SIGN OF OUR SUCCESS

We’re just one year old.

We’ve passed the crawling stage, passed the walking stage and are now up and running, and running fast.

Thanks to our clients, supporters and everybody else we’re now seen as a very serious Architectural Recruitment Agency.

We look forward to building great businesses together.

Thanks again.

Thomas Potter, MD

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21st Sep 2018

YOU’RE GREAT, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW IT

YOU’RE GREAT, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW IT

Your workmates love you, honest (even if they don’t show it)

You’re highly trained; in fact your training lasted longer than a doctors. 

You might be a small cog, but the big wheel wouldn’t go round without you. Just think though, what it would be like to be a whopping big cog in a smaller wheel.

This September there are more jobs on offer than ever before.

Are you sitting down, salaries are rising! Our profession is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Yes, you are truly wonderful; if you don’t believe it contact BlackSofa and we’ll tell you to your face.

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19th Sep 2018

KERRY BROWN PRINCIPLE CONSULTANT BLACKSOFA

KERRY BROWN PRINCIPLE CONSULTANT BLACKSOFA

Kerry graduated in Real Estate Management (RICS) from Nottingham School of Architecture.
Finding himself in the turbulent world of the property crash of 2008 he took the brave decision to change careers into recruitment. Ten years later with extensive success and experience under his belt, he has joined BlackSofa as Principle Consultant to head up the Landscape and Urban team.
When not helping architectural and multi disciplinary practices find the best talent in the market he can usually be found out on the water, either surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding or sailing and when on dry land: rugby, cricket and renovating his old cottage fill up his spare time. His other out of office passion is walking his dog Scrumpy around and often in the lakes of Sevenoaks.
If you are an Urban Designer, Planner or Landscape Architect looking for a new role or some confidential career advice please get in touch. Kerry is the only specialist in this area of the market and is always happy to share his considerable experience and contacts to help talented candidates take the next step in their career.

0207 033 8821

07711 761 185

kbrown@blacksofalondon.com

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31st Jul 2018

Do you have the personality to become a great architect?

Do you have the personality to become a great architect?

Try this simple test to find out

Who would you wish to be mentored by:

  1. a) Richard Rogers
  2. b) Frank Gehry
  3. c) Eero Saarinen

 

If you don’t like a client they would: 

  1. a) Not suspect
  2. b) Half guess
  3. c) Know it

 

Do you willingly work evenings and weekends: 

  1. a) Yes
  2. b) Maybe
  3. c) **** NO!!

 

Can you draw a straight line without a ruler:

  1. a) Yes
  2. b) Sometimes
  3. c) No point to it

 

If you’re pricing a job would you:

  1. a) Cost everything including contingency
  2. b) Give a basic cost
  3. c) Give the lowest ex VAT cost to get the job

 

Being reactive to changing situations is:

  1. a) Easy
  2. b) Tricky
  3. c) Difficult

 

If it took 10 years to qualify rather than 7 would you:

  1. a) Still enthusiastically go ahead
  2. b) Have second thoughts
  3. c) Choose another career

 

How important are awards to you:

  1. a) Very
  2. b) Medium
  3. c) Not important

 

How far would you travel to see examples of fine architecture:

  1. a) As far as possible
  2. b) In the UK
  3. c) I’d view them online

 

When working to a tight deadline do you:

  1. a) Work smart and plan
  2. b) Work through the night
  3. c) Try and have deadline moved

 

What is your favourite building song:

  1. a) If I had a hammer
  2. b) If I were a carpenter
  3. c) We built this city

 

If you scored mostly ‘A’ Norman Foster watch out.

 

Mostly B – garage extensions and church halls are for you.

 

Mostly C – time to re-think that architecture career…

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1st May 2018

Local Restaurant Review – #2 Smoking Goat

Local Restaurant Review – #2 Smoking Goat

There was a lot of anticipation around this meal for both myself and the lovely Sarah who I dined with last week. We are both huge fans of the chef Ben Champan’s other restaurant in Soho, Kiln and were expecting great things from his latest venture.

I had recently helped Sarah find a fantastic new job at an architecture studio she had always wanted to work for so when she called wanting to celebrate the great news we only had one place in mind – Smoking Goat (what a name by the way?).

Unfortunately if you’re a veggie Smoking Goat is not the place for you. If you are a vegan you’d be totally fu**ed. There’s plenty of great veggie/vegan options in the area though (What the Pitta’s amazing vegan donner wrap immediately springs to mind) so don’t come here thinking they’ll be some choices – there isn’t. Champan is committed to UK sourced ingredients and what the Smoking Goat does really well is meat and fish. Sarah is a fully-fledged carnivore so we were ready!

We had hardly eaten that day so we ordered five dishes off the ‘Drinking Foods’ section of the menu and two large plates (I don’t like sharing mains). The Cured Monkfish was incredible as was the Northern Thai Beef Sausage and Cornish Octopus Skewers – we could eat those all day! The Chilli Fish Sauce Wings were a bit dry which was a shame but the Northern Duck Laab was insane and perfectly spiced so I shouldn’t really complain.

For a large plate Sarah had the D’tom Yam, Wild Mussels, Velvet and told me it was the best broth of flavoury goodness she had had for a long time (and she lives by all those great Thai/Vietmenese restaurants in Hoxton). I had the Barbecue Goat (I felt obliged to eat Goat at the Smoking Goat) and it was tasty and extremely succulent. A big shoulder of meat on a plate covered in spicy massaman rich sauce.

We were both full after our feast. Full and a bit pissed from the reasonably priced wine list so we didn’t get a dessert. We fist pumped and walked back to our respective offices with the promise to go back to the Smoking Goat another day and try everything else off the menu.

 

Smoking Goat
64 Shoreditch High Street

Lunch for 3 people (including wine and tip) £75

BlackSofa Rating – 4/5 Gherkins

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13th Mar 2018

The Interview

The Interview

Fenella Ryan, Studio Manager, HUT Architecture

 

Describe your studio in three words.

Modern

Multifaceted

Academic

 

What is your favourite studio project?

We usually have 1 or 2 architects per project so we can’t really have favouritism… It has to be democratic here. Maybe the actual HUT on a Roof project?

http://hutarchitecture.com/project/62

OR

The Pixel HUT project because it was something I was really involved in despite not being an architect

http://hutarchitecture.com/project/3640

 

If you could trade positions with anyone in the studio for a day who would it be and why?

Andy (Founder and Principle) probably! We all recently did a personality test here for fun and Andy and I were the only people in the studio who got diagnosed with a ‘Campaigner’ personality. So, I would like to switch with him for one day and hold the reigns of leading a company. Plus, I think it’s about time more women in architecture experience this and strive for the position.

 

What is your favourite London building?

The Barbican or the Brunswick Centre.

 

If you had to play one album in the office for a whole day on repeat what would it be?

Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory

 

Who in your studio is best on the dance floor?

Me of course.

 

Why do you like working for HUT?

HUT is a team of multi-talented young professionals. Most people here have their own projects on the side, which enriches the practice and broadens our experience, skill-set and personality. HUT director Andy supports and boosts people here in every way possible. The most important part is that we are a democratic group, we all make decisions together whether it’s in our team meetings or design reviews, plus we have a lot of fun together!

 

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15th Jan 2018

Our Favourite Architecture Studio Websites!

Our Favourite Architecture Studio Websites!

Our Favourite Architecture Studio Websites!

We like our new website, we like it a lot. In a world where precision, design, attractive shapes and lines are so important it’s somewhat surprising that architecture studios do not put more effort into the design of their own websites. It’s the first thing any prospective client or future colleague is going to look at and everyone knows how important first impressions are. Here’s just a few of some of our favourite sites:

Hawkins/Brown

6a

John Pawson

David Miller Architects

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

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15th Jan 2018

Shoreditch Lunchin’

Shoreditch Lunchin’

Shoreditch Lunchin’

You’re in our endz for half an hour and you’re ravenous. You’ve got a tenner in your pocket and you’d like change out of it for a swift drink after work later. Where do you go? Here are three options to help guide you.

Brick Lane – home to many a curry house Brick Lane also has some great cheap eat spots like both its famous bagel shops; Biegel Bake and Biegel Shop where you can grab a salt beef and pickle bagel for £3.50!

Spitalfields Market – where many a successful London restaurant has started as a pop up. There’s so many options covering goat curries, bao buns, tacos, naan wraps, vegan burgers, pasta, greek wraps and if you’re just wanting something sweet there’s a whole shop dedicated to desserts.

Boxpark – smack bang next to Shoreditch High Street Station and with an impressive array of outlets this popular lunchtime destination for locals can cover all tastes and desires. We love Voodoo Rays, The Athenian, Falafelicious and What the Pitta!

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12th Jan 2018

The Bounds Green Obelisk Fountain

The Bounds Green Obelisk Fountain

The Bounds Green Obelisk Fountain

If you’ve ever wondered about the “obelisk” on the Bounds Green Road, its history and the story of the person it commemorates are all recounted by Harringay Online.

The Obelisk is actually a drinking fountain and was erected in 1879. It was originally situated in the middle of the road, but has since been moved over to a a patch of grass opposite the Nightingale Gardens. It commemorates Mrs Catherine Smithies of Earlham Grove, Wood Green and founder of the Band of Mercy Movement. And the Band of Mercy was a predecessor of the RSPCA.

So there you go, another day and you’ve learn’t something new. Next time you drive past the monument you can wow your friends with your amazing knowledge of Obelisks!

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12th Jan 2018

We Love A Bit of Lego

We Love A Bit of Lego

We Love A Bit of Lego

We love a bit of lego here at Black Sofa London. On my first day in the office I (Hannah Hansa) was welcomed with a fantastic box of Architecture Lego; it included many of the iconic landmarks from the heart of London, including Big Ben, London eye, Tower Bridge and St Pauls cathedral.

It did take me 3 days to complete, but in my defence I’ve been very busy finding people jobs!

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12th Jan 2018

A Day In The Life!

A Day In The Life!

A Day In The Life!

Whether you’re an architecture student starting out on the journey of your career or a seasoned practice owner we want to hear from you! We want to hear from anyone in the industry about his or her daily experiences in this fascinating world that we all work in.

If you could write a short piece from the moment you wake up to the time you hit the hay we would very much like to publish your story on our blog (we can post anonymously if required!).

This is not just limited to technical architecture people – we want to hear from receptionists, HR Managers, anyone at all!

info@blacksofalondon.com

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12th Jan 2018

Best Architecture Documentaries To Watch From Archdaily!

Best Architecture Documentaries To Watch From Archdaily!

Best Architecture Documentaries To Watch From Archdaily!

1. Building Africa: Architecture of a Continent

This BBC film, which originally aired in 2005, is a journey from the “eerily beautiful” mud buildings of Mali to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s experiment in Modernism in the State of Eritrea. Narrated by British architect David Adjaye, the film poetically untangles the cultural and imperial influences which have shaped African architecture over centuries of vernacular, colonial and post-independence architecture. From Rwanda to Ghana and South Africa, Building Africa has increasing relevance even over a decade since it was first shown.

 

2. The Human Scale / Andreas Dalsgaard

This film sets out to “question our assumptions about Modernity” by exploring what happens when architects, urbanists and designers put people into the center of their equations. The Danish architect Jan Gehl has systematically studied human behavior in cities for four decades. Using his methods, thoughts and conclusions as a starting point the film takes the viewer to Melbourne, Dhaka, New York, Chongqing and Christchurch – all of which are now being inspired by Gehl’s work and by the progressive developments in Copenhagen as a result of it.

 

3. Block by Block: The Men Who Built India’s Tallest Building

This is a short documentary film about the life of a unique team of Indian construction workers who are building the nation’s tallest building: the Palais Royale in Mumbai. It asks what happens to construction workers when they migrate from other parts of the country to the major metropoli. How are they housed? What are their living conditions? How do they work together as a team? According to Landmarc Films, “the objective is to make others realize the grave atrocities and unfair [and] inhumane treatment of the people who build our homes so humbly, providing them with a benchmark to follow.”

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12th Jan 2018

The UK’s Ugliest Building?

The UK’s Ugliest Building?

The UK’s Ugliest Building?

Building Design magazine’s Carbuncle Cup is the Razzie of the architecture Industry, highlighting the worst British architecture completed in the last 12 months. The 2017 prize went to PLP Architecture and their building Nova Victoria.

It’s design of the office section of the development, sits on Victoria Street, Bressenden Place, and Buckingham Palace Road. It is combined with residential buildings by the practice Benson & Forsyth, which escaped the dubious accolade. While the developer Land Securities described it as “distinct” and “architecturally daring”, according to Building Design, the judges labelled the building as “crass” and a “hideous mess”. What do you think?

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12th Jan 2018

Our Favourite Architecture & Design Instagram Accounts!

Our Favourite Architecture & Design Instagram Accounts!

Our Favourite Architecture & Design Instagram Accounts!

 

  1. Piercy & Co – instagram.com/piercyco/

One of ‘thee’ places to work right now, Piercy & Co are as cool as their Instagram! We like how they mix things up with shots of the staff, the office, models and professional snaps.

 

  1. The Spaces – instagram.com/thespacesmag/

They won’t follow us back so they must be seriously cool. They’re always up to something are the team behind the Spaces Magazine and always snapping the current hot topic in the world of architecture, design and art.

 

  1. Instrmnt – instagram.com/instrmntlimited/

The product design company based in Glasgow have taken the watch market by storm and now have more beautifully made products to show us soon. They’re always in once cool city to the next and take some slick snaps a long the way to show us all.

 

  1. Cereal – instagram.com/cerealmag/

Technically these guys are more of a travel IG and have sweet FA to do with architecture and design but they do take beautiful photos and they like nice things which we do too.

 

  1. BlackSofa – instagram.com/blacksofalondon/

We have the best architecture recruitment website this world has ever seen. Check it out and follow us if you haven’t already. ‘Nuff said.

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10th Jan 2018

Architecture INK!

Architecture INK!

Do you love a building so much that you would get it tattooed onto you? Do you have such a connection with a building that you’ve had it permanently inked onto your skin for all of time? If you have we would love to hear your story!!

Please send pictures and any words you’d like to write to us and we will publish your story on our blog – info@blacksofalondon.com

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10th Jan 2018

Our Favourite London Buildings

Our Favourite London Buildings

Our Favourite London Buildings

 

Thomas (Director) – St Paul’s Cathedral by Sir Christopher Wren.
“It’s a staggeringly beautiful building from every angle. Its best angle though is from Southbank walking over Millennium Bridge. I used to walk to work every morning that way and would smile every time I started off a long the bridge. I also love seeing St Paul’s in old photos and paintings when she was more dominant in the London skyline, before the giant skyscrapers we have today.

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9th Jan 2018

Time To Escape! #1 Barcelona

Time To Escape! #1 Barcelona

Weekend destinations for architecture lovers #1 Barcelona

While Barcelona is one of the best places to visit in Europe for nightlife, it also offers unbeatable architecture. As the birthplace of Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona attracts flocks of travellers each year to embrace its stunning architecture. Be sure to book your tickets in advance to enjoy Sagrada Familia – as Barcelona’s architectural centerpiece; the unfinished Sagrada Familia was Gaudí’s interpretation of late Gothic architecture, Catalan Modernism, and Art Nouveau. Other treats in Barcelona include Park Güell and Casa Batlló.

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8th Jan 2018

Local Restaurant Review – #1 Lyle’s

Local Restaurant Review – #1 Lyle’s

To start our new restaurant review section of the blog we tootled off to the end of our road and into the tea building to meet our guests outside Lyle’s – a happy new candidate and client who themselves had only ever met during the interview process. The idea of the lunch was for us all to meet up a week before the candidate was due to start in her new role for everyone to get to know each other a bit better.

Aesthetically the restaurant is stunning. Simple, clean and stripped back. Their menu is similar and changeable every day I’m told. Nobody likes an over complicated menu and I for one never trust a menu that has too many options (how can you cook all those things 100% every time?). We had wonderful main courses of goose leg, seabass and speckled faced mutton which were all cooked perfectly with some suitable accompaniments.

I believe the chef’s at Lyle’s take dessert seriously as there were 5 options on the lunch menu and as much as I tried to persuade our guests that we should all try a different option alas we all ended up with Treacle Tart & Milk Ice Cream which was to be fair, wonderful.

The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and seemed to know the menu which is always a good sign. I struggle to find anything wrong with our experience, maybe some mains were a tad too expensive but that’s really all I can (ever so slightly) fault. As an experience and exercise to calm our candidates nerves before her first day in the office I think we succeeded there as well. Well I hope it was the experience. Maybe the bottle of wine helped too…

4/5 Gherkins

Lyle’s
Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street.
2 course lunch for 4 people (including wine and tip) £170.