Distinctively British Furniture
With a history going back almost 80 years, a mix of traditional skills, advanced manufacturing technology and the latest materials, Knightsbridge Furniture in Bradford employs over 100 people, with some going back several generations.
Staff at SDC were pleased to be invited recently to visit Knightsbridge, one of the UK’s foremost designers and manufacturers of contract furniture. They are based in an old building on Thornton Road in Bradford, just a five minute walk from SDC’s Perkin House head office. The visit was organised by Bradford Textile Society and included a tour of every stage of the production process from the stacks of newly arrived timber through to the showroom of finished products.
Knightsbridge Furniture was established in 1939 and specialised in seating for the retail market. It later became involved in the contract side and this is now its sole market. It specialises in products for health care both in the private and NHS sectors, providing seating and other furniture, specially designed to meet both the rigorous standards of fire retardancy and the need for high hygiene standards. A growing market is that of care homes and mental hospitals, some of which are extremely challenging environments. This means the furniture has to meet rigorous safety requirements and although functional, it does not look institutional. As a colour organisation, we were particularly pleased to see how integral colour was to the overall design.
Knightsbridge carries no stock and was very busy with orders. All designs are manufactured combining traditional woodworking skills, but with the latest production techniques and where possible using locally produced fabrics. They work with a range of UK manufacturers to source the textiles they use, including Camira, another Yorkshire-based organisation that has close links with SDC. They also have a repair and refurbishment service, giving extra life to a range of products.
We were pleased to hear about the apprentice scheme which is in place, with four new apprentices aged between 16 and 18, which is training the next generation of skilled furniture makers. All the apprentices were taking on a series of roles and learning different skills.
It was a really enjoyable visit to a neighbour of the SDC, and a great Bradford success story. Our thanks go to all the staff at Knightsbridge Furniture for their hospitality and to Bradford Textile Society, in particular Bill Skidmore, for organising the visit.
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