How I grow business – recession to pandemic 6 – The International Design & Architecture Awards

Woven Wood Wallcovering Collection

In that year, I entered the  Woven Wood Wallcovering collection into The International Design & Architecture Awards.  I was so excited to learn it was shortlisted.  I was, in fact, told there was a one in two chance of winning in the wallpaper category.  The award ceremony was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  Not able to afford a pair of tickets, I went on my own but made a big effort, wearing a beautiful Celine dress with a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes which I put on after I got off at Hyde Park Corner tube station.  I was nervous on my own.  I did not get the award.  However, it opened my eyes to see where I should belong.  Designers from Katharine Pooley and Shalini Misra were seated at the same table.  The winners that year were Candy and Candy, Casa Forma, Honky, Hill House Interiors, Yoo etc.  I had no idea I would visit most of them in the following years. 

 

Woven Wood Wallcovering Collection
Woven Wood Wallcovering Collection

 

An architect from Candy and Candy who seemed extremely at ease in black polo neck jumper and jacket at the black-tie do sat next to me at the table.  His name was Charlie and he said he was sitting in for someone but he managed not make it sound at all like an excuse for his polo neck.  He was very friendly and made me feel as though I fitted into the world of luxurious interiors.  I was busy chatting to people but remembered to take advantage of the seating plan before the party was ending.  I asked Charlie, “Are you interested in seeing some products of mine?” 

It was one of the hardest working two weeks running up to the presentation at Candy and Candy.  It was by far the biggest opportunity to present Biden’s products in the short history of the company and yet it was unfortunate that there was no dry run at other smaller studios.  In desperation, I turned to a tutor I respect most at KLC,  Julia Begbie.  We went through everything including brand identity.  One great piece of information helped me with the visuals of my presentation.  She had heard that every single piece of samples is presented on a tray lined with black cloth, possibly velvet at Candy and Candy.  I created nearly ninety pages of Powerpoint slide show using the theme colour of our website and black.  I cut a black cloth which I used for the ceiling of a Decorex stand and wrapped every sample. 

I drove to the gated entrance of Rutland Garden, where Candy and Candy’s office used to be.  I met with seven designers at Candy and Candy, including Charlie, in their meeting room in a half basement.  I connected my laptop to a large screen and started the presentation with a trembling voice.  I was extremely nervous so I don’t remember anything.  However, the presentation was no doubt a milestone for my business and it is still a vital part of the business as it evolved over years.  Designers at prestigious studios even in Chelsea don’t come to the design centre.  I have to go visit them with my samples or put them in a cab. 

I made my last appearance at Decorex 2012 and launched the Textured Washi Paper collection.  It was the last Decorex in Chelsea as it sadly moved to another venue forever.  I had washi paper mounted on acrylic boards and backlit with LED tapes.  Danillo, my handyman, was taking a long time to make holes discreetly to connect the LED for each panel.  When we thought we finished at the end of the long day, it started smoking.  We went back on the following day, which was in fact my birthday, and continued working.  I was literally in tears until it was ready for the show.

 

My last Decorex 2012
My last Decorex 2012

 

The collection turned out to be our best-seller to this date.  I wanted to propose that washi paper can be laminated with glass or resin to be a part of the architecture.  It was my interpretation of the “Interior Architecture” movement along with the Fine Ornamental Woodwork collection which followed and also became another bestseller.  Back then, boundaries of interiors and architecture were quickly blurring; interiors started to involve not only decoration but construction works.  Design studios were hiring architects while architectural offices were busy setting up an interior division within the organisations.  It was a steep learning curve because I started dealing with structural engineers due to the sheer weight of glass panels.  Glass lamination is very technical and can be very risky as it can ruin our beautiful washi paper with discolouring and bubbles.  Glass specialist companies came and went probably because of it.  I have been working with the fourth glass lamination company since then.

 

Kuniko Thompson

Kuniko Thompson

Founder of Biden Designs established in 2008. She is passionate about creating beautiful interiors working with designers, architects and Japanese craftsmen.

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