Fred Rigby's had a busy year. Since we last caught up, his studio has been packed up and transported from North London's Stoke Newington, where he'd been based since 2019, to a new space in London Fields, Hackney.
Housed over two floors, Fred's new, enlarged space dates back to the early 1900s and, rather aptly, originally held a cabinet maker within its walls. Today, thanks to Rigby's relentless imagination and tireless work ethic, his new workshop is producing a variety of furniture, as well as designing retail and domestic interiors and a soon-to-be-launched homeware collection.
On entering the new space, you're immediately greeted by Fred and his team, who all work at the front of the building. Behind them is the workshop, where his pieces are built, and new concept pieces are honed and refined, but it's the narrow wooden staircase that beckons any guest on entry. Facing the industrial doors you step through, the stairs ascend to a space that's split into two distinct halves – part loft apartment, part showroom. The high ceilings and large windows on the building's front allow light to cascade through and onto his pieces – an ideal showcase of his work in its natural environment.
"I wanted to create a space that felt like a home rather than a traditional showroom so our furniture looked as it would in a clients home", says Fred. "We also wanted to create an inviting space you could spend time in, as alongside showing our furniture we use the space for consultations on retail and domestic interior as well as bespoke furniture commissions".
Walking to the back of the room and through the bi-folding door that dissects the space, the ceiling lowers and the wall colours darken to create a kitchen that feels more like a library. "It's the heart of the home", Fred points out, "but I didn't want it to feel imposing. It's been created to be functional for guests, whilst remaining discrete and nestled away". The shelves filled with Feldspar cups and pieces from Kana London, it's here we brew a coffee and he talks us through his plans for the second half of the year and beyond:
"There's a lot going on, especially through the summer. We're launching a new collection at London Design Festival in September, and that's going to feature an installation and exhibition in our Studio home in London Fields. There's lot more beyond that, too!"
You can visit the new Fred Rigby studio by booking an appointment here.
We’re delighted to officially introduce MiiR and their range of products to the UK for the first time.
Several years ago, we brought you Fresh Pots, a limited run of vacuum-insulated filter coffee flasks that we produced in partnership with MiiR, a drinkware company based in Seattle. That project led to an ongoing conversation that took place over emails, video conferences and – when we were lucky to be in the same country – coffee, and which lasted the best part of three years.
During that time we got to know the brand, the business and the people behind it in more detail, and were continually inspired by their social and environmental mission. Aiming to empower people for a better future, MiiR’s focus is on creating beautiful, considered, design forward drinkware that has generosity at its core. Operating a product to project model, every product sold helps to fund trackable giving projects around the world and, to date, they’ve donated over £1,000,000 to 70 projects in 26 countries.
Driven by the belief that business and philanthropy can and should be intrinsically linked, MiiR’s sustainable giving projects centre around the provision of clean water, a healthy environment and strong communities. As well as funding trackable giving projects, MiiR are also a member of 1% for the Planet, which means they contribute at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental causes. This is supported by their Climate Neutral certification – a result of their comprehensive action to measure, offset and reduce carbon emissions – and their position as a Certified B Corporation.
As official UK distributor, MiiR’s extensive list of products are now available via our Online Shop and on a wholesale basis. From tumblers and water bottles to refillable growlers and camp cups for the road, MiiR's diverse product range of premium stainless steel drinkware brings together over 10 collections, comprising up to 12 colourways. Enlisting medical grade stainless steel and Thermo 3D™ Double Wall Vacuum Insulation Technology, they’re not only built to make a difference, but to last.
We’re also delighted to offer access to their bespoke customisation service, CustoMiiR. Every product in the MiiR range has the ability to act as a canvas, providing the backdrop for a diverse range of custom screen printed designs in up to five Pantone colours.
To celebrate our new look, we wanted to do something special and that we hadn't done before. Today, we’re incredibly pleased to be able to showcase the results.
Approaching East London-based Moss Ceramics earlier this year, we’ve since been working closely with founder and one-woman production team, Tsouni, to create a short run of handmade Workshop Coffee cups to add to our shelves.
After reviewing and considering numerous test and sample pieces, the final design is a beautiful, robust and understated handle-less tumbler. Its smooth, glossy white-glazed interior spills out onto the upper-half of the cups exterior before giving way to the contrast of an unglazed, sandy, textural lower-half. Combined, it creates a cup that sits snuggly in the hand and, with solid, thick walls and base, holds the heat well.
Each cup has been thrown by hand and subsequently offers its own nuances and idiosyncrasies, and means that every one of the 160 cups we’ve created is unique.
Having left the studio in Haggerston, 60 of the collection have been gifted to our staff, meaning there are just 100 left.
In April of this year, we were handed the keys to 3,500 square foot of expansive, empty space in and amongst the art galleries on the quiet, cobbled road of Vyner Street, East London. As with any major project, the work to get us to that point began long before, but in the seven months since, we've been hard at work. In every corner of the business, we've been making some exciting advancements, from our production department, to changes to our stores and the refinement of the Workshop Coffee brand itself.
First, the Workshop Coffee Roastery. Our new space affords us two important developments in our quality-driven approach: resource and time.
The installation of a brand new 25kg Probat has an immediate effect on our capacity, allowing us to roast larger batches whilst continuing to carefully monitor our output through the ever-reliable Cropster. We've also built a climate-controlled storage room that will allow us to dictate the temperature at which our coffee is stored, diminishing the impact of yet another difficult-to-control variable that has a considerable impact on taste and flavour. Meanwhile, our still new and somewhat unfamiliar ColourTrack laser analysis unit that sits across the room from our roaster provides us another window into better understanding the numerous elements and variables that help us roast the best coffee possible.
The benefits of all of this are already beginning to be seen in the area we are going to be spending even more time on than we currently do: the cupping table. With greater levels of capacity and resource come increased opportunities to cup, taste, evaluate and continue improving every coffee we roast in the space. A renewed focus on this crucial point in our feedback loop can only mean greater consistency in our roasting process and we're excited to showcase the results in the coming weeks and months.
Having had numerous discussions with our wholesale partners, our customers and members of our own team, we've also developed a new, bespoke coffee bag.
We've scrutinised everything, from their shape and height to the design of the label that adorns them, ensuring quality at every stage and level.
The custom-made, resealable bags -- available in all of our stores and online from today -- continue to allow for ongoing freshness and we've sought to unpack the details of each coffee into a clear and approachable grid system to ensure continued quality of information.
Most excitingly, we've also changed our bag size. A switch to our 250g bags has allowed us to create a product that, for 1- and 2-bag orders, is capable of fitting through almost every conveivable letterbox. That means that our online and subscription customers can now expect to arrive home to our freshly roasted coffee ready and waiting for them to enjoy.
As you'll have no doubt already noticed, in the process of improving our packaging we've also taken the opportunity to refine our brand. From today, a new bold and distinctive 'W' will feature on each and every one of our coffee bags. We've also been working over the weekend to bring that new look to our website and into our stores.
In short, a number of things have changed. Our new look will manifest itself in the bigger ways we've already outlined and in the countless details of our everyday operations: signage, aprons, takeaway cups, to name but a few. And, as is always the way with projects such as these, things will continue to adapt and iterate over time as we acquire feedback and learn lessons along the way.
However, fundamentally, nothing has changed. We continue to source, roast and brew the cleanest, sweetest, freshest coffee possible and these advances will allow us to do that better than we ever have.