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Meet the technicians and artisans who transform furniture at our award-winning Renew Centre

Crown Workspace’s hub for office furniture repair and refurbishment is the only one in the country using inhouse experts!

Our award-winning Crown Workspace Renew Centre is where office furniture is skilfully transformed by repair and refurbishment experts, returning items to ‘good as new’ condition and helping the UK’s race for net zero in the process.

In a world in which sustainability and the circular economy are becoming increasingly important, it’s no surprise that the Renew Centre’s profile and reputation is growing by the day.

In fact, we are the ONLY company providing this kind of service onsite using inhouse experts – so no wonder clients, journalists, academics and designers regularly tour the state-of-the-art facility in north London to find out how it works.

If you’ve never visited, it’s a place where office chairs, desks, cabinets, acoustic screens, notice boards and even IT are all lovingly and expertly restored, refurbished or repurposed by our team of artisans and technicians.

So, who are the people behind the scenes? And what skills are required?

The Renew Centre is home to a growing team with a wide variety of expertise including upholstery, metal spraying, CNC operation, carpentry, CAD design and planning, and furniture fitting.

Here you can meet some of the specialists whose skills, often learned and honed over many years, transform office furniture and save it from being thrown away:

The chair workshop supervisor: Alistair Neaves

Office chairs are a big part of what our Renew Centre is about – there were 11,071 of them remanufactured or refurbished there in 2020 alone.

In fact, Crown Workspace is an Authorised Refurbishment Partner for Herman Miller furniture in the UK and Ireland – one of the most famous high-end office furniture brands.

Alistair knows everything there is to know about chairs, he’s helped refurbish thousands of them since joining the business in 2016.

Now a supervisor of the chair workshop, he oversees two technicians.

He said: “I’ve learned so much about chairs over the years and there are a lot of techniques involved. Jobs can range from big orders for 300 chairs for a company like the BBC or Sky to just one or two ordered on the website for a home office.

“Sometimes we refurbish chairs sent in by the client, other times we’ll take them from our stock. But the end goal is always to make them feel like new by the end of the process. We really pride ourselves on that.

The upholsterer: Stuart Corby

Stuart is an expert in sewing and upholstery, having worked with furniture since 1976, and is a bit of a creative!

“We sometimes make items from scratch and that’s always exciting,” he said. “The guys will come up with ideas and I’ll help build a prototype and upholster it.

“We had one order from a big television company that wanted a specific piece of furniture designed and they liked it so much they ordered more. That was a good feeling.

“When you refurbish furniture there’s a buzz, too, because it would probably have been thrown away if it hadn’t come to the Renew Centre. So, everybody is a winner, including the environment.

“One example is a hospital in London which had six Boss leather settees which were in a bad way and were going to be disposed of.

“We refurbished them in a more durable material and were able to save them. Doing a job like this gives you a sense that you are making a difference.”

The furniture re-sprayer: Nick Holloway

Refurbishing office furniture isn’t only about cleaning (although for some items that alone can achieve excellent results). Often, items which are in a bad way will need repairing and then specialist re-spraying. That’s where Nick comes in.

He’s an expert furniture sprayer who helps transform old furniture by re-spraying them with paint, varnish or wax.

“It’s a skill which took a long time to learn,” he said.

“People probably think you just spray away but there’s a real skill to it and sometimes you have to spray incredibly fast. If you’re spraying an item with yellow paint, for instance, it will separate if you aren’t quick enough – and you’ll end up with one chair that’s bright yellow and another that’s a lot darker.

“The spray station is really popular when clients come to tour the facility. You can really see the transformation in action. And one of my favourite things is to see the faces of clients when you show them the refurbished furniture for the first time.”

The CNC programmer and operator: Norbert Losionek

There is some seriously high-tech machinery at the Renew Centre thanks to our recent investment, and especially the two top-of-the-range CNC machines which allow furniture to remanufactured or redesigned.

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control and these complex machines are controlled by a computer – which is where Norbert comes in.

He said: “We use the machine to cut pieces of wood for desks or cupboards. So, I’ll take the technical drawings and then programme the machine to cut the shapes correctly.

“Sometimes I might also be involved in the design process. It’s a great feeling when a client wants you to make something different from old furniture, because you’re doing something good for them and for the environment, too.”

All these skills are key to the success of the Renew Centre, but sustainability is what underpins it all. Keeping materials in use for longer helps businesses move towards a circular office model – which is why Crown Workspace also helps our clients re-sell or donate refurbished furniture.

As Stuart Corby concluded: “That’s what makes the Renew Centre so special. You see furniture arrive in a terrible state, then you see it refurbished looking like new and can be proud of your work. At the end of it all, you’ve helped a business save money, helped reduce their carbon footprint and played a part in the fight against climate change, too. That’s why we love working here.”

Find out more about the services that we can provide here!

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Following our article where we introduced the technicians and artisans who transform furniture at our award-winning Renew Centre, it’s time to take a deeper dive into those experts, and discover what they do on a day-to-day basis at Crown Workspace.

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