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Five Minutes With... William Knight

Dec 3, 2020|

We recently launched our new Belong collection. Comprised of multiple collections, Belong was designed by Bisley’s experienced in-house team to create a sanctuary wherever you are, so that you can focus and stay on top of your workload in comfort. Created following the start of the pandemic, where working from home quickly became the norm, Belong is perfect for the office and for home. We spoke to Will Knight, designer of our Poise and Outline ranges about the collection.

How long have you worked for Bisley?
I have worked at Bisley for 9 years. I started as Graphics support, which was technically doing renders and line drawings for the Sales team. Before my time at Bisley, when I was 16, I worked at a wood processing plant called ‘Thought’, it was a bit like our wood plant with presses. I then studied Furniture and Product Design. Alongside my studies I worked for a residential company for a year and after I graduated, I started working for Bisley.

What do you enjoy most about working at Bisley?
There’s always different projects to work on, especially with my role at the moment. I might be doing presentations or I might be completing design work, supporting tenders, getting projects priced, or working with architects to do layouts.

What does your normal working day look like? How has it changed in 2020?
We would normally be in our office every day, catching up on what we are working on and various deadlines. We would usually be working on our accounts, although when larger projects come in that are too big for one person, we would split the workload between the team. Starting with getting prices, I normally specify the product and then go to the suppliers to get pricing and pull a presentation together.

At the moment, I work from home three days a week. I’m fairly self-sufficient so I don’t require a lot of direction. Once I get things to do, I get on with them. One of the things this pandemic has thrown up is us all not being in one place so like everyone else, there are a lot of Zoom calls! I will have a catch up generally as an overview to let people know what’s gone on, what’s come in and what’s gone out. A pattern I’ve noticed is that people are tied up to at least 1pm, so unless its urgent I tend to have a call early afternoon.

How do you think the pandemic has changed the way we think about the workplace?
The pandemic has forced us to think of the workplace in a completely new way. Rapid changes in legislation to deal with various health and safety concerns have forced us to consider the workplace as a more fluid and flexible entity. Going forward I believe we’ll see a lot of discussion around how to make the workplace more adaptable and reconfigurable to be able to cope with the growing health and climate issues of the 21st century.

Which products were you involved with in the Belong collection?
The Poise desk and associated pieces of furniture with that. Also the Outline desk and storage and other bits that go with it.

Can you give a quick summary of what the brief was?
We were asked to consider the ways people are working differently because of the pandemic. The brief was to look at our manufacturing capabilities, look at what the current demand is in terms of how people are working and where they are working, and then design products based around the two.

We do steel and we have our wood plant, so our aim was to combine those two aspects into products that people can use in their homes. That way, we get both parts of the factory working and we get products that are nicely designed, well made and that people will look to use within their homes in the short and long term. People will eventually filter back into the office, but these products stand on their own merit - for home or the office. This project was completed under a really tight timeframe. It has shown us that with the right people involved, design projects be completed really quickly if we all pull together and have a common purpose.

What have you found enjoyable/challenging about this process?
It has been good to collaborate with people in the business that I don’t normally work with. Chris Fowler, Chris Goddard and myself were meeting every 2 days, going backwards and forwards developing the designs and giving each other feedback on the direction we thought best. It was definitely enjoyable to work on the same project with other people within Bisley. And on that basis, I enjoyed being able to utilise the capabilities we have in the factory, and the great technical ability – there’s lots of great technical engineers that can turn our ideas into something that can be manufactured - I have loved seeing our ideas come to life! Bisley is set up to make certain types of product and the factory is geared towards mass producing filing cabinets and a lot of steel, in certain sizes, certain dimensions. It has been a challenge to try and find a happy medium towards producing a one off detailed steelwork. We had to change various design elements due to the components, which was tricky for our machinery, though of course we succeeded in the end!

Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
I really like the Hideaway Wall Desk, it’s a great product. I can see it being used in a lot of different scenarios in the home and of course I like my Poise desk as well!

Hideaway Wall Desk

Poise Desk

What do you think the future holds?
I think there will be a development in the way that workplaces are designed, that’s not necessarily just for the sake of the pandemic. It’s made a lot of businesses realise that their productivity has not been as impacted as they thought it would be by having their workforce rotating. And I think perhaps the benefit to some employees’ mental health of not having the long commute into the office makes them potentially happier and more productive. Equally, having a hub or place to collaborate will still be a vital part of our working lives. I think there will be a lot of research done to find a balance that brings out the best in people, while companies still need to maintain a physical presence. And I think a lot of architects - people who think about the theory behind the workplace, will have a lot of studies on how to blend the two without shutting down the city centres.

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