Why is it important to support the next generation of designers?

With the financial pressures of the last few years meaning that some businesses are prepared to take fewer risks when recruiting, it is fortunate to see that J Rotherham stone masons are very much intent on looking towards the future.

The company is running a competition between now and December that will see young British designers collaborate with its production team to launch a brand new range of innovative stone fireplaces.

This is a move that does not necessarily mirror the sentiment of the industry as a whole. Popular fireplace designs are often based on Tudor or Georgian-period decor, creating a look that many consider to be timeless. However, J Rotherham is on a quest to come up with something fresh and exciting.

Not only this, but the firm is relying on the next generation to help make this happen. Commercial Director Matt Rotherham provided an insight into why this demographic should be held in such high regard.

Time to move on?

The risk with having an industry that is based around design, but is fixated on past styles, is that it can simply become a revolving door of the exact same product. This is fine in the short-term if it proves to be commercially viable, but eventually it could stagnate.

Matt cites innovations in features like “lighting and patterning” could be one way in which young talent could provide fresh impetus, adding that research and design are central to the process.

He said: “We appreciate that in order for us to make this transition and be at the cutting edge, we have to invest in the future.”

Making the best of technology

The company believes the best way to plan new ranges is to take advantage of recent developments in technology as much as possible. But there is no point in employing this technology without the expertise in place to utilise it.

Welcoming and encouraging the generation who have grown up with these advances is in everyone’s interests – and this is another objective of the competition.

Matt continues: “We’re in a different world now where the expertise in terms of new technology are being led from the bottom up. In terms of things like Facebook and Twitter, it is younger generations that cotton onto this first.

“We want to create a range that brings all this together and really falls in line with current design trends.”

A shift towards the bespoke

One of the trends that has been most prevalent in recent years in the fireplace market is customers’ desire for personalised and bespoke products. With these kinds of intricacies at the top of a lot of young homeowners’ priority lists, manufacturers can no longer simply sit back and rely on the same old designs.

It is also hoped that the collaboration between J Rotherham and this young design talent will help create a range that is in touch with the modern love for personalisation, while still offering a level of value that is spawned from efficient and organised production.

“We are now getting to the stage where there is a new generation of buyers who want to personalise their home more”, Matt continues. “As a company, we’ve got to move forward to meet that demand, which requires a fresh impetus. We want a design touch, as well as just saying ‘we can make this efficiently’.”

Experiencing the best of both worlds

In essence, the thinking behind the competition is to bring together two viewpoints that should be very much treated as ingredients that can work together, rather two seperate ways of thinking.

Having become established in the early 1900s, J Rotherham has a century’s worth of experience on how to be successful in the fireplace industry. Together with top class designers who are at the height of their game, the whole industry could be transformed.