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Lora Learns…Sewing

Lora Learns…Sewing

The second in our series of stories celebrating the skills of the Connection team and learning more about all the people and processes involved in producing our furniture. This week, Product Marketing Manager, Lora, joins our Sewing Department for the morning.

Beth is our Sewing and Cutting Team Leader, and she talked to Lora about her job, showing her how the cut fabric pieces (see previous post) are sewn together to make a bespoke chair cover. Lora had never even used a sewing machine before Beth showed her how to thread the machine with matching thread and sew accurate seams. As well as being a skilled craftsperson, Beth’s a great teacher!

Lora: How long have you been one of the team at Connection?

Beth: I have been part of the Connection team, on & off, since 2015 (I had some time away travelling).

L: Tell me about your role…

B: As Sewing & Cutting Team Leader, I manage the workload in each department, organising what orders we need to push through & make sure everyone is ok. I also still cut and sew myself.

L: What is a typical day for you?

B: I’m responsible for making sure both the Sewing and Cutting departments are running smoothly. I also work closely with our upholstery department, checking that any new fabrics have been tested on a chair before completing an order. I need to make sure the upholstery teams have everything they need to proceed with making the products. At the end of the day, I also complete all the production lists for the cutting and sewing rooms.

L: How did you learn your skill?

B: I have always had a love for sewing, ever since I was little. I happened to stumble across an apprenticeship at a company called Craftwork in Leeds, where I learnt Traditional Upholstery Sewing and completed Level 3 Soft Furnishings BTEC. I then found Connection, as it’s close to home, and fell further in love with sewing here as we sew a complete glove to fit our upholstered products. My colleagues, Joyce, Val & Sam all helped me get to Level 3 in Sewing here at Connection.

L: How has your job changed over the past few years?

B: I used to be a sewing machinist, then there was an increased demand for cutting and Donna taught me to cut by hand and to use the machines. I also got the chance to become Sewing & Cutting Team Leader, so I have had lots of opportunity come my way while I have been working here.

L: What's your favourite Connection product to work with?

B: Mae high & low back chairs, I love the hard work & time spent on a Mae chair as the detail you put into it all shows at the end.

L: What is the most difficult material to work with?

B: Some fabrics fray a lot, and disappear in front of your eyes, and others love to move, even while you’re sewing them.

L: Which is the easiest?

B: Wool based felt fabrics are by far the easiest fabric to work with and the most enjoyable. It seems to do everything you want it to and always fits lovely. Vinyls are also some of my favourites to work with.

L: What do like most about your job?

B: I love the variety of work and that no day is ever the same no matter what I sew or cut, it’s all ultra-modern and upbeat. I love it!

L: If you could swap roles with anyone in the company, who would you swap with?

B: I would have to say Ronnie, one of our installation experts, because he gets to put the products up in their new home and to see where they will live for the rest of their life. He also sees what our products give to different spaces. And he must be proud of the end results.

L: Tell me something about yourself that may surprise even your colleagues!

B: If I hadn’t done my sewing apprenticeship, I would have been an Air Hostess for long haul as I’d already gone through a few interviews with Virgin Atlantic & Emirates!

The Mae chair is Beth's favourite to sew - it has lots of seams

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Lora Learns…Cutting

Lora Learns…Cutting

Do you know how many specialist skills are involved in producing a single piece of upholstered furniture? Since our Product Marketing Manager Lora, joined us earlier this year she has been keen to find out more about all the different people and processes involved in our business. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing Lora’s experiences as she works alongside our Connection colleagues as they share their expertise and skills with her. This week Lora Learns…Cutting!

We’re very fortunate to have such an experienced and skilled team at our Huddersfield manufacturing site. Donna, our Cutting Manager, took time out of her busy schedule to talk to Lora about her job and show her the ins and outs of her experience of cutting fabrics.

Lora: Hi Donna! How long have you been one of the team at Connection?

Donna: 21 happy years!

L: Tell me about your role…

D: My role is right at the beginning of the manufacturing process. Once the fabric arrives for the products that have been ordered, it’s my responsibility to make sure all the teams for the next process - either sewing or upholstery - have the fabric pieces to proceed with making the furniture.

L: What is a typical day for you?

D: I get in to work at 7 o’clock in the morning. The first thing I do when I arrive is switch on my brilliant Gerber cutting machine. Then I go through the jobs list, print out the order information and put it in date order. Next, I find the fabrics for each job and load the cutting information into the cutting machine’s computer. Then I feed the fabric for the first job into the machine, and I’m ready to start cutting at the push of a button. When the machine has finished cutting, all the fabric pieces for each product are then put together with the accompanying paperwork & taken put in date order, ready for the next stage.

L: How did you learn your skill?

D: Many years ago, I started helping a friend out with domestic upholstery, and found I really enjoyed it. Soon after that, I got a job in a manufacturing company and carried on, learning on the job, cutting leathers and fabrics by hand with scissors.

L: How has your job changed over the past few years?

D: It’s completely changed! In the early days, everything was cut by hand, whatever the size and material. It was very hard on my hands. Then, about 15 years ago, Connection bought our first cutting machine, the Gerber digital cutting machine, and that changed my life. It didn’t just help my hands; it saves so much time. For instance, a large Hive unit that would have taken me about 4 weeks to cut all the pieces by hand will now be finished in about 5 hours.

L: What's your favourite Connection product to work with?

D: I like cutting the big things like Hive or Flock – it’s satisfying to see all the large pieces coming off the cutting machine.

L: What is the most difficult material to work with?

D: Thin fabrics often don’t behave as I’d like, they can move about. We also have to be careful with leather as it’s expensive and if anything goes wrong you have to order a whole new hide.

L: Which is the easiest?

D: Wool felt fabrics that are quite thick, the cutter goes through them easily and doesn’t drag.

L: What do like most about your job?

D: I love my job. I’m in charge of my workflow and always like to get ahead to make sure the next people in the chain have plenty of fabrics lined up to sew or upholster with – if they’re sat twiddling their thumbs, it’s down to me.

L: If you could swap roles with anyone in the company, who would you swap with?

D: I really wouldn’t, my job’s the best job in the company!

L: Tell me something about yourself that may surprise even your colleagues!

D: There isn’t anything really, I like knitting, reading and spending time with my kids and grandkids. Oh, I do have a tattoo!

L: Thank you so much, Donna! Yours is such a crucial job, I really enjoyed finding out more about what’s involved.

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A Nomadic Approach To Working

A Nomadic Approach To Working

Globally employers continue to wrestle with the problem of talent acquisition and retention. The phrase “digital nomad”, describing a workforce who operate remotely without a fixed office base, has been around for a number of years now and whilst it initially emerged as a micro trend, it looks set to stay. In order to create desirable workplaces and encourage both current and future employees back into the office, we consider why employers and designers must take learnings from this nomadic movement.

Worldwide, the millennial generation continue to enforce change and create new rules which employers are struggling to understand; 80% of key employee decision makers remain from older generations. Conversely Millennials are now also influencing what their older colleagues want from their employment, which further compounds the problem. Many employers find themselves with more generations in their teams than ever before and are challenged to understand how to balance wellbeing, motivation and consistent performance in this growing workplace diversity. 

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Clerkenwell Design Week 2019: Our Recap

Clerkenwell Design Week 2019: Our Recap

Can you believe it’s already been a week since 2019’s Clerkenwell Design Week kicked off? The event, which was celebrating its 10th birthday, seems to get bigger and bigger every year! It was our busiest year yet, and we were delighted to see so many of you in our Great Sutton Street showroom. Now that we’ve all had time to relax over the bank holiday weekend, let’s look back at some of the week’s key take-aways…

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Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and helping raise over £30,000 for charity

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and helping raise over £30,000 for charity

In January this year, Connection board director, Annabelle Hill, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and helped raise over £30,000 for charity. This is her story of the challenge.

There is a lot of talk about Kilimanjaro: The Return, where celebrities were raising money for Comic Relief.  Having just completed this myself, I can tell you, it is hard.

In September 2017, whilst at a fundraising lunch for Variety, the children's charity, I was invited to join 3 other girls to trek Kilimanjaro to raise more money for them. Variety is close to our family heart, as we have an autistic child, Nathan, aged 16, whose school, Castle Hill, in Huddersfield, benefit from two of their Sunshine coaches. Without these, there would not be the trips out into the community which immensely help the quality of life of the children at this special needs school.

Our group of 4 became 9 and together we are proud to have raised over £30,000 for charity. We set off as part of a group of 27 with two tour leaders from Action Challenge, and a GP. On day one, our group was hit with a diarrhoea and vomiting bug, on day two, altitude sickness kicked in for some and by day three for most. No matter how fit you are, altitude sickness is really not pleasant. 

We were told repeatedly by our team leader, Collette, how awful summit night is...she was so right. We set off at 4,800m, I was wearing 8 layers on my top half, 4 pairs of gloves and feeling like a sumo wrestler. For me, it became more a mental battle than a physical one, I knew I was having delirious thoughts due to the lack of oxygen and honestly, if someone said I could get cheat my way to the top at that point, I was on that bus. What kept me going was knowing the sun would rise and after the freezing conditions, it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  Reaching Stella Point at 5756m and be told we still had another hour to walk to get to Uhuru Peak at 5895m felt like cruelty. It took our group 9 hours to climb one mile upwards and some did not make it to the top.

Yorkshire Fundraising group

But it was so worth it ... it's one of the hardest, most amazing things to do and you really do feel on top of the world.  Despite all the not so nice things (toilet dignity you completely lose on day 1), would I do it again? Absolutely.

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Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2019: Our Recap

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2019: Our Recap

Running as part of Stockholm Design Week, the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair is now in its 68th year. The world’s leading event for Scandinavian design features the latest innovations in design for both commercial and residential interiors. On show are a variety of new products, materials, trends and ideas. The fair now spreads over four huge halls, so there is a lot to digest. Here we have picked our five key themes that we saw throughout the stands…


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Workplace Trend Predictions for 2019

Workplace Trend Predictions for 2019

Looking back at 2018, unquestionably it was a year of hesitation and ambiguity in anticipation of Brexit, and those feelings are certainly carrying forward into the first few months of this year. However, once the dust has settled, we’re expecting the latter part of 2019 to be about regrouping and renewed focus and energy. Following this reflection on the wider environment, here are our predictions for the 2019 workplace…
 

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The development of the Hygge Rocking

The development of the Hygge Rocking

“Workplaces need both dynamism and calm for free thinking, so the evolution of Hygge with a rocker furthers the range, in the hope that it will add some tranquillity and free thinking space in the modern workplace.” David Fox, designer of the Hygge range.

Recognising the latest workplace ‘resimercial’ trend for more laid-back office environments which draw inspiration from domestic settings, David Fox developed the distinctive Hygge family of chairs. The elegant contours of the oak veneer back envelop the user, creating an inviting space to retreat to in the midst of a busy office. Using high quality materials, solid oak frame and oak veneer back with a beautiful natural grain, the Hygge family are statement pieces that add style to any contemporary workplace.

David has developed this concept further by designing the rocker base version, a beautiful addition to the Hygge range. Striking, comfortable and providing a degree of visual and acoustic privacy, Hygge Rocking is bound to be a future classic.

Click for more about the Hygge Rocking

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New RIBA accredited CPD seminar

New RIBA accredited CPD seminar

Our latest RIBA accredited CPD “Learning is a Social Process” seminar is now available.

Collaborating with leading Learning Space consultant, James Rutherford, we explore pedagogically-informed learning spaces, aiming to enhance the experience and output of students, whilst balancing the needs of space, facilities and technology all within the perimeters of teaching environments.

We discuss how and why we believe learning is a social process, addressing the relationship between learning styles in education and how we see this correlate to create effective informal learning through interior and space design.

We look at understanding current and future students’ learning needs and how forthcoming design trends and technology are helping to influence these environments.

Finally, we’ll show some design trends for interiors that are emerging and consider their translation and psychological impact in education design, demonstrating how through smart furniture design and careful choice of material and colours can affect and improve learning and teaching performance.

You can find out more about this CPD or our other Connection CPDs by clicking here or by contacting us to arrange a seminar for you, your colleagues or workplace. 

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5 ways to combat distraction in open plan offices

5 ways to combat distraction in open plan offices

Recent research indicates that open-plan offices can decrease employee productivity, health and happiness. Ambient noise and other distractions present in open office environments have been shown to reduce productivity.

A recent study by Harvard Business School suggests that open-plan offices actually lead to a 72% drop in face-to-face interaction between employees, with more email use and less productivity. According to another piece of research, conducted by Ipsos and Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures team, office workers are losing a total of 86 minutes every day to distractions.

So what can we do?

By using good, thoughtful design, the majority of open offices can be adapted to create a flexible, attractive and more productive environment without needing a complete redesign:


1. Create comfortable and versatile breakout spaces, with sofas and coffee tables, for checking emails, taking a break and socialising


2. Encourage employees to leave their desks by providing a variety of areas for different tasks and interactions, designing your space to encourage ‘collisions’ between colleagues


3. Provide private or partially private spaces for meetings away from the desks, such as pods or prefabricated ‘rooms’ within the space


4. Use screens and high-backed furniture such as booths, to provide spaces with visual and acoustic privacy for focused work, meetings and phone calls workers may not wish to share with the whole office


5. Collaboration tables allow co-workers to spread their work out, move around, work together and be creative

These simple inclusions will go a long way to ensuring a productive and happy workplace, whilst retaining and building on the open-plan ethos of communication and collaboration.

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17th Sep, 2019

Multi-use Platforms is perfect for libraries & learning. connection.uk.com/products/all-p… #librarydesign #interiordesigntwitter.com/i/web/status/1…

16th Sep, 2019

We love the flexibility of Platforms two-tiered seating, designed for learning & collaborative working.… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

13th Sep, 2019

Love the shafts of sunlight highlighting this Dixi low back chair. Oak base version, upholstered in… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

12th Sep, 2019

The 2nd ‘Lora Learns’ blog is here! This week, Lora uses a sewing machine for the first time, finds out whose job B… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

11th Sep, 2019

Find out more about fantastic flexible Nomad: connection.uk.com/products/new-p… twitter.com/dgoffice/statu…

11th Sep, 2019

Last week we hosted a fantastic mosaic workshop in our London showroom. Thank you to everyone from @BNPPRE_UKtwitter.com/i/web/status/1…

10th Sep, 2019

Higher education institutions need to provide a variety of settings for focused study. At Cardiff University, Cubbi… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

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