This month, our Q+A concentrates on Will Chelsom of Chelsom Limited. Our Managing Director, Kate Martin, has been specifying lighting by Chelsom ever since she became involved in hospitality design. We learn more about how this family business keeps broadening their ranges to keep designers coming back for more!
How would you sum up your company in three words?
Design. Expertise. Flexible.
How long has the company been established and how long have you been working for them?
My grandfather set up the company in 1947 and I joined in 2006.
What is the best thing about being a family-run business?
When it works, a family business becomes more than just the immediate family members. We have an extended family in everyone that works at Chelsom, some for as long as 35 years. I feel that the passion I have for our business is reflected in all of my colleagues and that is what makes us strong. Working with my father is also great fun!
What is your role at the company?
I am the Managing Director.
What is the best part of the job?
The best thing is that every day is different. I work across so many interesting functions including design, manufacturing, sales and project management, all of which I love. The most fulfilling thing is working tirelessly as a team to deliver an exciting prestigious project.
Do you have a best-selling product?
Probably our LED Dock reading lights. We have sold tens of thousands of units of this product and it is our bestseller in America by a long way.
Where have you been most proud of seeing your brand in-situ?
Recently we supplied custom and standard products to all areas for the Mandarin Oriental London refurbishment. To me it has always been one of London’s stand out hotels and as a global brand, Mandarin Oriental has always been one that excites me. It was very cool to be a part of that project. Next step is doing the Penthouse there which will probably be one of the finest guest rooms out there!
What has the most influence over your product design?
I am forever interested by interior design. My wife is an interior designer and it is something that we both enjoy. Whenever travelling I look for inspiration and ideas and I guess influences largely come from the tastes and styles of the interior designers we work with on a daily basis. Ultimately, we specialise in one area which is the Hospitality sector (Cruise included) so we design products that designers and operators can use in these applications.
Do you have a favourite new product this year?
We have just launched Edition 26 which is our latest catalogue and has tonnes of awesome new looks going on. Hard to pick a favourite but I do like the Halo collection. Simple brushed brass rings loop round LED filament lamps and they are incredibly versatile. There is a massive range but there is plenty of scope to create custom pieces from this range.
How do you promote your brand to make sure it stays in the mind of your buyers/consumers?
We have a super strong sales team in UK, Middle East, Russia and USA so I guess they are the foot soldiers who do a terrific job. We also have a really strong website; top end catalogue and we use a lot of digital channels to stay in touch with the market. We limit advertising to key industry titles such as Sleeper.
Are there brands in the industry that you admire, what makes them great?
I admire Morgan Furniture for being all about design. They are truly original in their approach and the brand represents great quality in my mind.
The design calendar seems to grow every year. Do you have a favourite interiors/design exhibition?
To visit I love Maison Objet in Paris. To exhibit at I enjoy BDNY in New York.
How much travel is involved with your job, do you have a favourite country to visit? Why do you enjoy it?
I don’t travel as much as I used to although I am regularly with our teams in China. I also travel to USA quite a bit and have the odd dip into Europe. Italy is probably a firm favourite.
How do you see your company evolving over the next few years? Do you have any plans you can share with us?
That would be telling….. No, I think our plan is to stick to what we know and strive to keep doing it better and better. I never want to diversify, and I want to continue to be seen as one of the best decorative lighting suppliers to the global contract market. We continue to work on respected projects around the world and I hope that continues
You were awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade last year. It’s an incredible achievement, what effect has it had on the business?
Thank you! We certainly were very honoured to receive this. I think one of the biggest effects on the business has been to our employees. We have a very hardworking team at Chelsom and they were all very proud to be part of this great award. Of course, it is awesome that we can ‘wear’ the Queen’s Award emblem on all of our communications and I think a lot of the client base recognises that it is a reward for great effort.
From the Mandarin Oriental to The Ned, you’ve been involved in some high-profile hotel interior design projects. Do you have a favourite London hotel? What makes it stand-out from the crowd?
So as not to have to choose between the two you mention (!) I am a big fan of Firmdale Hotels. The interiors are some of the best in the World and the vibe as soon as you walk in to the lobby knocks you for six. Ham Yard Hotel is the best!
The new collection, Edition 26 has just launched. What are you most excited to show your customers?
All of it! There is now a real ‘Chelsom’ language to our designs and it runs through all of the new designs. Bold brass metalwork, textured glass, bold designs for public areas and refined collections for bedrooms. It has it all…… I hope!
Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Will! It’s been great learning more about Chelsom.
For more information on Chelsom please visit their website www.chelsom.co.uk