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Stay at Home Series

7th May 2020

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Our next Stay at Home instalment features Alan Drumm, Director of Uncommon Projects. The award-winning design company specialises in designing, making and installing bespoke plywood furniture and kitchens. Alan imparts his wisdom on the importance of good home design, the versatility of plywood and how he’s making the most out of this time at home.

What are you enjoying the most about being at home?

I moved into a new apartment last year, so working from home has given me some time to settle in properly, hang pictures, sort everything out and just enjoy the space. I’m also enjoying being able to cook more frequently and trying new recipes. Thankfully, I replaced the kitchen when I moved in. It’s much smaller than the typical Uncommon Project but I love how it work. You learn a lot from living with your own designs!

How have you redesigned your home to suit working there all day?

I think if you have managed to create a great living space, then it should also translate into a space that’s easy to work comfortably in. I don’t have a dedicated space for a study in my apartment, so I’m currently working from my kitchen table. I brought my Aeron chair home from the studio so that I can sit comfortably. I’ve learned that it’s really important to tidy up properly after cooking and eating before sitting down to do some work. It creates a much-needed separation between the two functions. Taking regular breaks helps to keep things fresh and increases my productivity. Luckily, I have the most amazing views and a few minutes soaking those up those really helps!

What advice can you share with our readers about how they can transform their space for this period?

I think it’s really difficult to work in a cluttered environment. It’s the oldest tip in the book, but having great storage is key to a space in which you can live and work in comfortably. This is a great time to really think about how you live in and use your space. A lot of our projects blurred the boundary between the kitchen, living and study spaces. More and more frequently, the kitchen and living spaces we design incorporate a dedicated desk space or corner to sit comfortably with your laptop. Our plywood cabinetry system has the flexibility to deal with all this and everything is bespoke. Plywood has an appealing texture and character that makes it ideal to create warm and stimulating multifunctional interiors that complement modern life.

What is keeping you positive during this time?

I’m pretty lucky in that I have an optimistic outlook generally (some of my friends might be surprised to hear this!). When the Covid crisis first took hold, the business landscape was shifting on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis, I found that harder. I’m really enjoying looking at some of the more creative aspects of the business and doing all the things that we’d wanted to do for ages but had to put on hold because we were too busy.

Where are you getting your inspiration from at the moment?

Working from home means the distractions from the other parts of the business have somewhat lessened, leaving me more time to focus on all things creative. One of my favourite art and design magazines, Disegno have made their back catalogue free to download which is brilliant. We also have a big library of books that I might finally get read, I used to fear they would have to wait until retirement!

Which of those books have you finally managed to start reading?

I just bought ‘Broken Glass: Mies Van Der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece’ by Alex Beam. I read Mies’s biography by Franz Schulze almost 25 years ago when I was a first year architecture student, so there’s a feeling of nostalgia about reading this. I find anything to do with the client/designer relationship fascinating so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it.

Discover more about Uncommon Projects on Domus Guide here.