BoConcept is a Danish brand that was established in 1952 by two craftsmen from a small city in Denmark - Herning. They saw a gap in the market for customisable, functional and design-conscious furniture to fulfil the needs of modern living. A small family business at first, BoConcept has grown over the years and resulted in 251 franchise showrooms around the globe. We caught up with Ania Porada, Business and Design Manager at their flagship store on Westbourne Grove to find out a little more about our innovative Danish-inspired neighbours…
What was the overall idea behind BoConcept?
The idea behind the firm was to offer customisable and coordinated collections of furniture and accessories, affordable to the urban-minded shopper. The idea is to help design a perfect living space, which not only looks good but most importantly makes it feel like a home.
What is your role at BoConcept?
My role at BoConcept is Business and Design Manager and so I'm responsible for trade clients, as well as relations with local companies. I am currently developing the business-to-business side of our franchises, whilst also being involved with the showroom and space planning. However and above all, I am an interior designer and essentially 'pioneer' of the free interior design service we provide for our customers.
What is the best thing about working for BoConcept?
I’ve loved the brand ever since I can remember. I like the customization and coordinated look and the fact that it can so easily be a one-stop solution for people leading a busy lifestyle. The free interior design service is an exclusive opportunity to work with professional interior designers, who are always happy to go the extra mile and give a piece of advice, not only about BoConcept products but also about colours and textures, accessories and smart space planning. We always love to invite our customers to visit our showroom, to experience the exceptional customer service and to get to know the team and our beautiful products. The most rewarding thing us knowing that you've helped a customer realise their dreams.
Tell us more about the team at BoConcept...
Our entire team of design consultants is amazing. All of my colleagues are incredibly dedicated to their job and are always aiming for the highest customer satisfaction. Claire Rossall, one of our recently joined members of staff, definitely deserves a mention. She is a fantastic interior designer, who is responsible for showroom designing and space planning and is also the newly appointed visual merchandiser for BoConcept.
How does BoConcept source their products?
The brand is Danish and has a fully integrated design team, who develop the collections together with recognised designers. Inspiration comes from classic Scandinavian style; mixed and adopted to have a more contemporary feel and feel inspired by the many vibrant cities that BoConcept is based in around the world. Last year, for the first time in BoConcept history, we collaborated with one of the most famous and respected worldwide designers, Karim Rashid, which resulted in The Ottawa Dining Collection. The series was extremely successful and even won a Red Dot Design Award this year in Milan.
How would you describe the company ethos?
Following one simple rule, to ensure that every customer receives a friendly and unique shopping experience, in addition to a great design service and seamless delivery. We aim to be the number one brand in worldwide urban interiors.
What makes you stand out from competitors?
I truly believe that the BoConcept brand is different from what anyone else involved in the furniture business on Westbourne Grove is offering. Because of that, I would prefer to say that we complement each other in a way rather than being in any type of competition. I would definitely love to see more design-orientated shops arriving in the area, to target a similar audience to us.
What first attracted you to the Bayswater area?
When we first decided to open our flagship store in Bayswater four years ago, we saw great potential. Not only due to the fact that it's so close to Notting Hill, but also because the area was up-and-coming and evolving with all kinds of similar design-orientated retailers, art galleries and sophisticated bars and restaurants. We strongly believed that this was the right place to be and still do, with the hope that it will encourage others to open their business here. The area is literally buzzing at the moment with so many fantastic development plans for the future - let's hope it will make it the one of London's number one destinations in the future.
What do you particularly love about the neighbourhood?
For me, Bayswater can be descirbed in three words - vibrant, trendy and opportunistic. With the versatility of the architecture and the surrounding 'modern city' atmosphere, there's always something going on with lots of places to shop or visit.
Do you feel a part of the community?
I believe we do, yes. However, I think there is a still lot to achieve in this department. Working in such a busy and time-conscious environment, it's unfortunately not always easy to maintain active and healthy relations with your neighbours. As a design-orientated establishment, we would particularly like to develop this area, where local businesses will get together on a regular basis to discuss current situations in the market and what we could all do to improve the local business and how we can help each other.
What are the pros and cons of having a business in the heart of W2?
W2 is one of the strongest postcodes in London. It attracts wealth from all nationalities and provides a constant footfall. It is an extremely desirable area, while being particularly cosmopolitan and vibrant. There is also a lot of property development which makes it the perfect spot for us to be.
BoConcept is one of those brands that seems to promote a minimalistic-stylish living ethos, do you agree?
Absolutely - what I personally love about BoConcept is its versatility. Yes, design can be often be described as modern, contemporary or minimal, however I wouldn't say that we promote 'clinical' living. We want and love for our clients to feel 'at home', however way they want to furnish or style it, whether it be a clean and minimalistic look or one that is more homely and cosy. With those foundations, once you add our wide range of colours, textures, sizes and functions to the equation, everybody can find something they like.
Does your own home reflect this?
My home is an eclectic mixture of different styles. I love beautiful interiors, but primarily value comfort and functionality. I like to come back from work and be able to feel relaxed in a casual atmosphere. My favourite piece in my living room is a BoConcept corner sofa - it's one of the most comfortable pieces ever and of course incredibly stylish at the same time.
What would you say is your favourite piece at BoConcept at the moment?
I love anything from the Ottawa collection, that was designed in collaboration with Karim Rashid. At the top of my wish list has to be the sideboard that won the Designer Red Dot Award this year - it has the most beautiful design ever, with some very cool quirky details.
Do you have certain favourites/best sellers for different seasons, summer/winter? At the moment, the Ottawa collection is one of our most successful. However, in terms of the continual best sellers it's always going to be a classic BoConcept sofa. Though there are different designs available, we usually try promote the new arrivals twice a year, during spring and autumn when we launch our new collection or best-selling ranges.
What exciting projects are you currently working on? Are there special things coming out for the summer?
I recently completed a project in Kensington. It was an amazing duplex apartment, largely designed by myself using BoConcept furniture and accessories for styling. At present, I am busy working on three apartments and re-developing for another for one of my regular customers. We also have lots of smaller projects, where customers want to give their existing interiors the BoConcept twist.
Do you live locally yourself?
Yes, I am lucky to live just around the corner on Artesian Road.
What other cities do you love for interior design?
I love travelling and wherever I go I’ll always find something interesting to bring back home to London. The markets of Marrakech are awesome for small furniture pieces and ethnic accessories - all very inspirational and exceptionally good value for money. I recently returned from South Africa, which affirmed once more that Cape Town is and will be one of my favourite cities. Whenever I'm there, I always head straight to Long Street which is in the heart of the town and has some absolutely amazing art spaces and galleries. The new-wave modern art happening over there at the moment is particularly interesting, as well as their beautiful craftsmanship of traditional pieces.
What can you not live without?
Lot's of things! Definitely the usual but undeniable goods, like love, family and friends - without them nothing really makes sense. But on a more casual note, I cannot live without a new pair of shoes once in a while!
What is your favourite hang-out for a drink after work/at the weekend?
For a drink, I love Westbourne House. It's just opposite BoConcept and so all very convenient and the outdoor space there is great during summer. I'm also loving The Rum Kitchen at the moment - it's has that cool laidback feel, yet still incredibly stylish. The food and music is awesome. For more intimate evenings, I would definitely recommend Montgomery Place on Kensington Park Road; small and cosy, yet so much atmosphere.
What are you currently reading?
I've got a lot of catching up to do in this department! I’m currently reading The Host by Stephanie Meyers. Fantasy literature is my favourite.