What makes a space great to work in? Is it peace and quiet? Is it wifi? Is it the right amount of tables and chairs? Well, yes to all of the above. But, at Breather we believe great design is the key ingredient to a perfect workspace. Which is why we partner with top design houses like Modus to make thoughtful and inspiring work environments accessible to everyone.
In between collaborating on pop-up spaces at designjunction 2017 and Le Book’s Connections London, we got to know our Modus partners a little better when we interviewed Co-founder and Managing Director Jon Powell.
Tell us about why you started Modus?
It was by chance that both Ed (Co-founder) and I were working in the furniture industry. At the time I think we thought it would be fairly easy to run our own company — we both had a great entrepreneurial spirit and we were young and naïve! We started importing furniture, but then, after meeting Simon Pengelly, we changed direction and began working with British designers and sourcing out the manufacturing to British firms. It was important to us that our products had design integrity and a quality of which we could be proud of. We wanted to create a British brand that could hold its head up.
A few years on and we had branched out to international designers and some European manufacturers. But several years later we had grown large enough to bring the manufacturing in house — that’s how we like it — so we can oversee every step of the process. When we started there were very few, if any, other UK contemporary furniture brands out there, but now there are a fair few and it’s great to see British brands thriving alongside the European giants.
Tell us about the furniture in the ModusxBreather space! Who designed what?
The Edge collection is a new portfolio of ranges by PearsonLloyd. We have been quietly working away on this collection for the past few years. When we launched the Edge table system we knew we were onto something, it's beautifully simple yet highly crafted and it all hinges around an aluminium knuckle. The knuckle won't be what draws people to this collection though, it's the light and domestic aesthetic that makes Edge so easy on the eye — but the knuckle is integral to every piece and lends the entire portfolio a kind of crafted engineering.
We are thrilled at the result of our long collaboration with Tom and Luke (of PearsonLloyd). Edge is the perfect solution for the modern workspace and a great option for this space that Breather has created. Visitors can take a break, recharge and try out the new seating and meeting tables and see for themselves what the collection is all about.
What is the design and manufacturing process like?
We draw up a brief and approach the designer that we think is best suited to the brief. We have pretty close relationships with most of the designers we work with, some of them we have been working with for over 16 years, and we like to think we are good fun to work with. It’s a long process, especially for the more complex ranges like Edge, but our Product Development team work very closely with the designer until everyone is happy with the result. Frequently, new products will be launched at key events in the design calendar so there’s often a tight deadline to work to, but if the product is not right we have to wait until it’s ready.
We have enormous flexibility in terms of what we are able to manufacture but every piece has to satisfy our key demands: quality of design, quality of manufacture, longevity and sustainability. We work with young, up and coming designers and we work with old hands who have spent decades designing. Our Production team are very skilled at what they do, each piece is crafted with great care and pride which is a joy to watch.
Favourite aspect of designjunction?
I love the fact that there is such diversity, you can see a real mix of established brands alongside the latest cutting-edge talent — that’s what makes designjunction so stimulating.
Modus is about sustainability, tell us about the philosophy behind that.
We try to take a long term approach, to think about the impact we as manufacturers are having in terms of emissions, waste, use of resources and the lives of others. It is vital that the products we make are adding value to people’s lives without damaging the world we live in. Quality and durability are paramount and we would like to think that the pieces we make have a timeless appeal that might make them future classics. The fact that we always work with designers to create every new product means that there is a design integrity to every single piece, in a throw away world we want to craft lasting products that will be cherished and to build a creative legacy for future generations.
What’s the one office staple the team at Modus can’t live without?
Probably good coffee and a sense of humour. You’ve got to have a sense of humour. Oh and cake...