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Mitchell Evans Spotlight

Mitchell Evans Architects

February 25, 2022

Mitchell Evans Spotlight

Founded 30 years ago in Surrey, Mitchell Evans is a medium sized architectural practice, specialising in managing a diverse range of architectural projects including design, planning permissions and Listed building  consents, through to working drawing packages for contractor procurement and construction.

Toby Howell joined the company 20 years ago as a graduate and together with business partner Darren Grist, now heads up the company’s three offices in Godalming, Isle of Wight and Wales.

Here Toby talks about the history of the business, what architectural trends are emerging and offers some tips if you’re planning an extension to your home.

How has the Mitchell Evans brand grown over the past three decades?

Our main office is in Godalming, where our founder, David Mitchell, started the company in 1991. I joined 10 years later, after graduating from university and took over the company with my former partner Ian when David retired in 2017/18. Darren joined the company in 2016 as a project architect and is now my business partner. My brother Tim joined the company a few years back. We were brought up on the Isle of Wight and he wanted to return there so we decided to open an office on the island, which has been a great success. The model worked so well there that when a member of our team was making a move to Wales, we decided to open an office there too. We however collectively work as a team across the offices with Island and Wales members coming to our Godalming office on a
weekly basis.

Who are your clients and what sort of projects do you work on?

Ninety per cent of our clients are individuals who want us to help them realise their dreams, whether that’s creating a high-end contemporary home or making a more traditional property better fit their current lifestyle. I think one of the reasons people come to us is that we work on all different styles of architecture. Here in Surrey there’s a lot of historical architecture and some people want to keep that character as much as possible while adapting it to suit their current needs. Others want a more contemporary look, driven by programmes like Grand Designs, and are much bolder with their ideas. However, we are happy to work in any style and our design process will explore a number of options for our clients.

How has the pandemic changed the way people view their homes?

In our opinion, and from what we have experienced it’s led to a mass exodus of Londoners who no longer want a two or three-bedroom house in the city but somewhere larger where they can work from home and have lots of outdoor space. However, they don’t want to compromise on style – they often want to  recreate what they had in London out here in the country.

What trends have you seen emerging in domestic architectural design in recent years?

The way people live has completely changed over the past few years, for example very rarely do we see people wanting a formal dining room anymore. Family life is much more sociable than it once was and so people want open plan kitchen family room living. The shift to working from home has also driven a desire for his and hers offices but one of the biggest trends is undoubtedly how people are incorporating outdoor living into their homes. We get a lot of requests for outdoor kitchens, swimming pools and outdoor entertaining space that is connecting, seamlessly, with the interior of the home.

What key things should people consider before embarking on an extension or renovation?

Ask us to check the local planning laws: Each borough will have different planning policies so just because you might have seen something done elsewhere in Surrey, doesn’t automatically mean it will be possible in your part of the county. Also houses in the countryside and greenbelt land can only be extended so much so it depends on the planning history of the property and how much it may have been extended in the past. I have on occasion had to shatter people’s initial dreams with that news. However, there’s a lot you can alter internally in a property to achieve what you’re looking for so don’t be disheartened if your initial ideas aren’t possible.

Live in a property before you make any big structural changes: Many people we work with who have moved to their new home, want their property changed to a new specification before they move in (depends on the condition of the house) but sometimes it’s worth living in a home and experiencing day-to-day life their first before you start knocking down walls. You may find you don’t live in the house the way you thought you might and this will change priorities for any building work.

Don’t rush the design process: Take your time with the design. It’s so easy to get excited about getting the build underway but you need a solid foundation. It’s important to get the design right first to avoid what could be expensive changes further down the line.

What local companies do you work with and would recommend?

Find out more:

You can find out more about Mitchell Evans and their services at mitchellevans.co.uk or by following them on Instagram @mitchell_evans_architecture.

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Mark Hardy Spotlight

mark hardy

February 25, 2022

Mark Hardy Spotlight

Here at Grantley, we’re particularly proud of the way we showcase our clients’ homes. This month we speak with one of the people behind our marketing photos and videos, award-winning architectural and interiors photographer and videographer, Mark Hardy.

How did you become a photographer?
It wasn’t always my plan. I went to ACM (The Academy of Contemporary Music) in Guildford to study music production initially. I loved music but I found I preferred designing graphics and websites for various music groups there. So, I went to Winchester School of Art to do an art foundation course specialising in graphics. While I was there, one of my tutors saw a photo I had taken for a project and basically told me that I should do photography. I didn’t have (and couldn’t afford) any equipment though, so he gave me some film, photography paper each week and use of the dark room 24 hours a day for the year and I just went for it. I ended up getting a distinction. I later studied for a degree in photography as a mature student at Portsmouth University.

Why did you decide to specialise in interiors and architectural photography?
Quite by accident in all honesty. I was doing portrait and wedding photography when a photographer in Guildford appointed me to do some work for his estate agent clients photographing some houses for sale from 1 bedroom flats to the exclusive St George’s Hill estate in Weybridge, which really threw me in the deep end. I later helped set up an agency specialising in property photography but now work on my own doing both interior and architectural photography and videography.

What’s your USP?
I used to work for a portrait photography company. Studio portraits can become quite monotonous so there was a lot of pressure to ensure that every single shoot was different. It was pretty hardcore, but it did force me to be creative and think outside the box, which is something I am known for now. The style of wedding photography I did was also less portraiture and more lifestyle-focused in order to tell the story of the day. This translates well to selling houses, as you’re building a storyboard of the lifestyle that each home represents. My signature technique is giving the appearance of something moving in what is actually a still photo. I like experimenting with movement in photography and the possibilities with advances in digital of bringing an image to life, for example steam rising out of a coffee cup. It’s always important to keep on challenging myself – I’d much rather innovate than imitate.

Have you always done video too?
No, but because I studied at ACM and part of my course was music production, I had a lot of the sound engineering skills that are helpful when producing and editing video. I also did some work experience with a BBC South cameraman while studying and he taught me a lot.Video wasn’t as big a decade ago but over the past five or so years it’s being used more and more and in the right way rather than just for the sake of it.

Have you photographed any particular houses of note or celebrity houses?
Lots but I can’t really name them! One of the challenges of my job is to really understand the lives of the people who live at the property that I’m photographing (perhaps they are an artist or a songwriter for example) and how their house might lend itself to that particular lifestyle. Depicting that in photos or video is what helps potential buyers picture themselves there too. But at the end of the day, it’s about the house, not the person who lives there. One of the reasons I like working with Grantley so much is that their houses are really quite unique, they usually have lots of history and therefore plenty of stories to tell!

Who do you gain inspiration from or think might be inspirational to our clients and readers?
For kitchen inspiration, I tend to turn to Instagram as there are so many great accounts to draw from. Oliver Pohlmann, Ar Her Kuo, Barry Grossman and Oliver Purvis are other architectural photographers I particularly admire.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Mark and view more of his work at markhardycreative.com or by following him on Instagram @markhardycreative.

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Photographers Eddie Judd & Vicki Knights

Local inspiration - Photographers

February 25, 2022

Local Inspiration - Photographers Eddie Judd & Vicki Knights

This month we shine the light on Surrey photographers Eddie Judd and Vicki Knights, who run the award-winning podcast Shoot Edit Chat Repeat.

How did the two of you meet?

EJ: We’re both photographers with over 20 years’ experience between us, and we both live in Surrey. We met chatting on Twitter, where there used to be a big photographer community, and then became great friends - bonding over f-stops, running our businesses and bringing up toddlers!

How did you get into photography?

EJ: Ever since I was about 10 years old, I wanted to be a photographer, but people kept trying to put me off, so I basically did it to prove them wrong! I trained to degree level and then started as a picture researcher on magazines, before becoming a picture editor on a magazine – all the while doing my own photography on the side. When I had children, I needed a job that would fit in around the family so I built my photography businesses around that, initially photographing families and doing lots of weddings but I moved away from larger weddings because I wasn’t able to really engage with people. Now my business has a firm focus on personal brand photography.

VK: I set up my family photography business in 2008 after having my first son, prior to that,
I’d had a career in working in the advertising/marketing/sales industry. Before long, I began tutoring family photographers as well as other parents on how to take better photos of their children. I’ve taught hundreds of people over the years and now run retreats, workshops and online courses.

What are your USPs?

EJ: Personal branding photography is at the core of my businesses. I love getting to know a person and their business and helping to find a setting and style that will suit their brand. It’s not just about shooting a headshot, it’s about capturing the whole ethos and personality of a person and their brand.

VK: I am also a family and personal branding photographer but mentoring is a key part of my businesses. I have trained in NLP and success coaching, and run regular business Visibility Retreats for big-hearted entrepreneurs, who want to develop their own personal brand and build confidence in their business. Why did you start the Shoot Edit Chat Repeat podcast?

EJ: Vicki loves listening to podcasts and I remember recording my own pretend radio shows when I was at school (they were terrible!) – back when you’d record on a double tape deck (those were the days!). Although podcasts had been around for some time, we felt there was a real gap in the market for a business podcast for photographers. The idea worked and we managed to land sponsors right from the beginning.

VK: The idea was to speak to really interesting people, not just photographers, but people that both photographers and others could learn from. Creatives tend to have a habit of underselling themselves and it’s a tough market out there so we wanted to help them with tips on how to grow their businesses. The podcast has now had over 200k downloads and is listened to in over 70 countries!

What are your top personal branding tips for independent businesses?

Find a photographer that you feel a connection with – you need to feel comfortable and relaxed when doing a personal branding shoot.

Don’t worry about what you look like or where to position yourself or your hands, that’s the photographer’s job.

You want to feel as confident as possible so invest in getting your hair and make-up done before the shoot and a stylist if you can afford to – we work with some great local businesses.

- Location is really important and often the most difficult thing to get right. You can suggest places that are important to you and your business but your photographer should have experience with different locations too and should get to know your businesses and what would work. For example we use the home of a lovely interior designer in Weybridge if you want a homely environment but would rather not have photos taken in your own home. Or alternatively we also regularly use a hotel in Guildford for colourful and eye-catching portraits.

Be honest with your photographer. The more they know about you and what you like/don’t like, the better they will be able to capture you in the best way. And remember, people buy people!

Find out more:

Find out more about Eddie’s photography services at eddiejuddphotography.com and Vicki’s at vickiknights.co.uk.

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Inspired Textiles: House Alice

house-alice

February 25, 2022

Inspired Textiles: House Alice

Christmas is fast approaching, and local businesses are going to need our support more than ever this year. Christmas shopping just wouldn't be the same without the small local businesses who pour their heart into their work and create truly unique gifts and experiences. We sat down for a chat with Alice Witheridge, an experienced textile designer, who launched her own range of products this year through her business House Alice. House Alice sells lampshades, wallpapers, notebooks, sweatshirts and more, all with Alice's original designs that are created by hand. 

How did you get involved with textile design? 

Since an early age, I have been influenced and inspired by colour and pattern. As a child, I was always making things, building things, and experimenting with different art mediums. Textiles were something I was particularly drawn to; I love the fact that you can apply art to a functional piece of fabric. I studied Textiles and Art Printing for two of my A-Levels. After leaving university with a degree in Fashion Design, I began my career as a Design Assistant for Jigsaw. From this, I moved to work for Helena Gavshon Studio, a leading London design studio. I worked part-time in-house as a Studio Coordinator which involved travelling around the world, selling, sourcing, curating client collections and working with designers on briefs. I also freelanced designed for Helena alongside this role. After having my daughter in 2014, I went fully freelance for Helena, who is still my agent today and took on other clients. This year saw me start my own extra products-based online business House Alice. 

What brought you to set up your own business?

Having designed so many prints over the years for other peoples brands, I really wanted to be able to put my name to some physical products. I love freelancing for other people and watching what they do with the designs I create, and I will continue to do this, but I wanted a little something just for me, to be able to design a product from start to finish. 

I missed designing for a product and seeing the end design, so founding House Alice was the natural next step for me. As for taking the plunge in 2020 of all years, Covid 19 has had a huge impact on projecting forward online retailers. Companies that have an online presence are going from strength to strength, and so this to me felt like a platform I wanted to get involved with. 

Where do you source your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from a love of ethnic prints, patterns and colour; I take my influence from all around the world. I'm the daughter of hippies, so I've been heavily influenced by other cultures and travel, and this has always come through in my work. I spent a year at age three living in India, and I think all the colour and pattern there must have seeped into my bones early on! My work is a mixture of classic and trend-led prints, so my designs will evolve over time by exploring some new cultures while still having that classic grounding. I believe that art is just so important for the home, it's uplifting at this time, it really raises spirits, and so I will continue to create for years to come! 

What is your process? Do you have a studio? 

My studio is in Worplesdon; it's a lovely countryside studio in my garden. Everything starts from hand; I mainly use watercolour and a variety of techniques that lead to an assortment of styles. I experiment with traditional textiles like Shibori, batik, tie-dye, silk painting and anything I can learn to do! Once I have a hand-made piece, I scan it in and use Photoshop to finish off the designs, by putting them into repeat and tweaking elements. I then get my prints digitally printed. 

You're a Surrey-based designer, where do you recommend people visit?

I'm always inspired by Watts Gallery, I love the shop and the exhibitions they hold, I always come away inspired to create something, and there are some lovely walks in the vicinity. They also make the absolute best French Toast! Other than that there's One 40 in Cranleigh, it's an independent shop with a real collection of women's wear and stationery. I feel the High Street lacks these destination stores; they're a real hub of the community. If we are to bring back people to the high street, we need to be able to make them not so formulaic; independent shops spark curiosity, and a reason to leave the house! I also am slightly addicted to any garden centre, Secrets is a great place to spend an afternoon, and meander around the shop there as well. 

Where can we find your work?

I work a lot with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.I'm going to be featured on kissedbybetty.com soon, and I plan to start approaching local businesses. For now, if you're looking for Christmas present ideas, then the best place to purchase my work is on my website www.housealice.com and House Alice on Etsy.

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Jan Erika Design

Local inspiration - Jan Erika

February 25, 2022

Local Inspiration

As we enter a second lockdown, it is important that we show our support for local businesses who have been forced to cease trading. It's the small local businesses, the pubs, restaurants and the independents, that add character to our towns and who need our support now more than ever before.

Over the following months, we're going to be showcasing some of the fantastic local businesses that call Surrey home, and we hope you will lend them your support. 

 

Jan Erika Design

A former professional cellist, Jan Erika changed careers to become an artist and now creates bespoke multi-media artworks from Tannery Studios on the outskirts of Ripley.

Creatives are often noted for having more than one string to their bow but for Jan Erika the meaning of that phrase is quite literal.

Jan originally trained as a classical cellist, but after hanging up her cello bow to have children, she decided to follow a different creative path.

Proving that art isn’t just about that which can be hung on the wall, she is now stamping her mark on pretty much any surface you can think of.

From huge murals to gin bottles, jackets, tabletops and rugs – there’s not much this Surrey artist won’t work with.

Music is still a major form of inspiration for Jan, who has worked with the likes of Paul Weller, and she’ll usually crank up the music when she’s painting. We chatted to her to find out more…

G: How did you become an artist? 

J: I did art at A-Level and got into Art School but decided to do a degree in classical music so until two years ago, I’d not painted in 20 years! At 38 and after having my two boys, I started painting again and realised that was my true calling.

G: You’re based in Ripley – what is your studio like?

J: Tannery Studios is a gorgeous brand-new development right on the canal. It’s a lovely bright workspace with views of the canal behind me. I’m one of several studios there and have just done a spectacular 50ft mural on one of the huge walls in my signature style based on the canal and village life in Ripley.

G: Where do you find inspiration?

J: From what’s around me really and music. I might play the same song 35 times over when I’m painting a particular piece as that song will get me in a certain mood or will make me think about a certain thing. Whether I’m painting a floral piece or an abstract piece, the song will trigger a mood and I’ll paint to it.

G: Tell us a bit about your collaborations.

J: Locally, I have a collaboration with The Gin Kitchen in Dorking where we work on the shop floor in Fortnum & Mason and I paint bespoke art requests onto their gin bottles. I do a few pre-painted to sell but the rest are done on the day. Stephenson Wright is another local company I’ve partnered with – my first collaboration actually – painting tabletops and stools for their interior design showroom in East Horsley.

I also have a range of hand-painted water bottles online with English Heritage, which are based on the gardens at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.

Further afield I’ve painted a range of tableware for US company Juliska and I’m also launching a range of rugs with Matthew Wailes, a luxury rug producer based in Chelsea, on November 1. There will be five of my creations in the collection.

G: Do you have any favourite projects/collaborations you’ve worked on? 

J: I loved working in the USA with Juliska and my most recent work in Tannery Studios was definitely the most satisfying.

G: Why is art so important in the home?

J: Art is really key to a home. It can bring joy, colour, warmth, character, it can set a certain mood. Remember art doesn’t have to just be something you hang on a wall, as many of the projects I work on prove, it can be implemented into many aspects of your life.

G: What are your favourite places in Surrey to relax and or gain inspiration?

J: In Surrey, we're massively spoilt by fantastic places to walk, breathe and be inspired. St Martha's, Newlands Corner and Leith Hill are amongst my favourites.

G: What other local businesses do you love? 

J: Apart from the incredible Tannery Studios l really admire the love and atmosphere at Nest Café in Ripley and the work of my talented interior design friends Stephenson Wright, who have a studio at The Old Post Office in East Horsley.

Where you'll find Jan Erika

Tannery Studios, Tannery Lane,
Send, Woking GU23 7EF.

Find out more:

 Visit www.janerikadesign.com and follow @janerikadesign on Instagram.