The magnanimous Bridget Graham, a like-minded PR has handed me the golden ticket – to continue her great strides with the extraordinary Fine Cell Work.
This week’s blog is a hybrid. Part me but mostly by Helen Smith, the production manager at Fine Cell Work. The following sums up how this pioneering charity can create collections and commissions for the world of interiors. It is the third year that Fine Cell Work has been the formal charity partner of Decorex and here is the reasons why.
'Fine Cell Work have been lucky enough to be the charity partner of Decorex International, the leading trade show for the luxury interior design industry. It’s a huge accolade for us as it’s a reflection of how highly regarded our work is by our design peers in the industry. Decorex allows us to showcase our work to the world’s leading interior designers and it has led us to many superb industry leads and commissions from top designers and luxury hotel groups.
The latest of these is from AB Hotels, a family-owned chain of luxury hotels, whose purchasing manager Nicholas Smith approached us in January about a huge commission for 141 cushions as part of the refurbishment of suites and bedrooms at Sopwell House, a country house near St. Albans, Hertfordshire, that was once the home of the Battenburg/Mountbatten family.
Delivering such a large commission to meet a deadline of only four months away is always a challenge but it’s something that we’re always up for. It requires a huge amount of coordination between the design and production team here in Victoria and the volunteers and various prison teams of stitchers around the country. With the Sopwell House commission, two prison workshops in HMP Gartree and HMP Littlehey were entrusted with the project and together we went up the learning curve to work with velvet and leather, new materials in our work that required special industrial sewing machines. The cushions required both piping and a zip along the bottom; this was a new specification for the workshop, so these were new sewing techniques for the men to add to their skills-base, - and in due course to their c.v.s when they finally leave prison and are applying for jobs.
There were nine separate designs in total, using a variety of fabrics and techniques unfamiliar to our men in the workshop, making it an excellent opportunity to learn new skills. Most of the cushions were produced in velvet, and some of them had leather corners, so our men had to learn how to use these two very different materials together, creating a neat and attractive effect. Others used more familiar types of furnishing fabric, but were ‘box’ cushions, meaning they had a gusset down the sides. Again, this was a new technique for the men to learn, and they thoroughly enjoyed engaging with it, and did a fantastic job. AB Hotels were delighted when we delivered all 141 cushions on time.
It’s always enormously rewarding for the prison stitching teams to receive the feedback that we pass on to them. They have also seen images of the cushions in situ at Sopwell House, real recognition of the beautiful work that they create out of ugly circumstances. I can’t thank them enough for what they did to make this job happen, and I’d also like to say a special thank you to Wendy and Katheryn our Workshop and Production Coordinator respectively for managing the project so well.
Decorex 2015 has chosen Fine Cell Work again as their charity partner this year and we will be showing our latest designs there as well as taking part in the lecture series.’
Production Manager, Fine Cell Work