Q&A with Stuff International Design Architectural Services’ Neil Whitehead by Chelsea Harbour News
Stuff Architectural Services is finding itself surprisingly active during this period of Lock-Down. As home owners are spending more time in their houses they are planning how they may be enlarged and redeveloped when life returns to normal. Stuff has vast experience in architectural design and handling planning applications. It has solved some really complex planning issues for its clients with great success. During this period many drawings and plans are being produced ready to be presented to the planners also working from home.
How Stuff can help:
Tell us what you want and we will advise on what we think will be technically possible to
achieve for the building and with the planners. Our knowledge, skills and contacts will help you minimise the costs and maximise the chances of obtaining planning permission.
We can create very quickly some outline design ideas for inspiration to fine-tune your ideas. We will then work with you to develop these and can undertake the following:
1. Planning application:
• Search and research
• Establish brief
• Prepare architectural and other documentation for planners plus reports on soil, floodplains, traffic, etc.
• Liaise with and meet the planners
• Establish guidelines
Produce full application documentation
• Project proposal
• Drawings and plans.
• Co-ordinate with other professional services as required.
2. Post approval:
• Produce outline production drawings.
• To include: all finishes, lighting, etc.
• Co-ordinate with structural engineers if required.
• Establish budget.
3. Tender process:
We have a network of contractors we can suggest and are very happy to work with your contacts.
4. Project management:
Deliver project on budget.
Complete details and snagging.
Please let us know if we can help you.
Stuff International through UCL Innovation & Enterprise is working with some highly innovative start-up companies advising them on brand positioning and on becoming global players.
Handled effectively Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analysis can improve products, increase margins and reducing staffing costs. In the last two months at UCL a range of fascinating businesses using AI have sprung up, including:
- Software that analyses a teacher’s photos of students’ work to indicate what learning issues students may have, opening up such reports to all students, not just an affluent few.
- A teaching programme showing in 3D the artefacts in museums world-wide using mobile phones in a low-cost VR headset.
- An app that with a tap transfers business cards instantly to another’s phone and stores it on-line, making business cards obsolete.
From seeing so many of these start-up companies within the London universities, it is clear that social enterprise increasingly will play an even greater role and in start-up businesses. There were some very compelling companies, one is recycling coffee into soap, another is developing high energy drinks that use nature to beat the sugar rush and obesity.
So what does Stuff International bring to the party?
Having spent many years raising the profile of some well-known global companies, such as BNP Paribas, Virgin, Ford, O2, we at Stuff have developed a methodology to help differentiate companies, creating clear messages to their customers. This process is becoming more complex with new on-line platforms being launched every day. When we meet a company we analyse these 5 areas and help them at each stage, including with investor presentations:
Learning from UCL Innovation & Enterprise “Hatchery”
Working with all these innovative companies there is clear patterns emerging:
- AI will work on doing the drudge work, freeing experts to focus on the main product.
- Virtual Reality makes for greater and better human engagement with 3D-moving subjects world-wide being “moved” directly into homes and offices, making them easier to understand and more interesting to relate to than those presented in 2D, printed or on video.
- Social enterprise supported by government funding will play an important part of our future.
- Analytics will enable more focused, targeted solutions, saving time and money.
- Maths and algorithms are the commodity of the future.
The future is bright.
Camden Coffee Co. is a craft coffee company expanding rapidly in and around the Camden area in London. The first café opened in December 2017 in Camden Market. Camden is famous for its pop and rock music heritage and is one of London’s most creative and on-trend areas. This was the inspiration for the new brand image that Stuff International created for the company – “Coffee stimulates creative thought”.
The creative brief was to capture the vernacular of the local architecture and link it with the craft coffee served by the baristas in the Camden café. To add to the creative spirit of the café, we encourage people to draw on their coffee cups and to display their inspired thoughts. The next café opens in Holborn, followed by others in and around Camden.
With the support of the Russian Government, the Chamber of Commerce in the Leningrad District, Neil Whitehead of Stuff International Design has been giving lectures to, advising and mentoring 50 SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) with Russian colleagues ISM (International Strategic Management) in St Petersburg. “We have been helping these entrepreneurs to develop their business strategies and supporting them to produce effective sales tools.”
Members of the SME programme (photo left): An evening in St Peterburg with the owners of SMEs (Neil is in the blue shirt centre right) after a day’s work relaxing and brainstorming together in the Chamber of Commerce
The main goal of the programme is to mentor the businesses over a nine month period in order to help them to generate more revenue. Neil and his colleagues meet the companies every two months; the programme started on 30 March 2015, with other meetings in May, July, September, November and December. In between these events, the mentoring continues via Skype, email and phone. As the programme evolves we introduce appropriate specialists to guide the businesses on their logistics, sales, methodology, business planning and management skills.
Neil works with the business owners to assess:
- Strategic positioning: Who are your customers? What is the uniqueness of your brand? What is your vision for their company - today and tomorrow?
- Product line logic: What potential is there for future product development and within existing product lines?
- Sales vision: Can we enable multi-product sales by widening the product range? Can we develop Solution Selling rather than Product Selling? Can we create compelling stories that enable customers to see the total potential to the product/s, rather than perhaps their most limited use? This approach supports the existing product and its brand, enabling sales growth and offers the opportunity to sell in additional products.
- Brand strategy: Creating a brand strategy – this might require adopting a new product or business name, modifying the logo, finding better brand solutions, improving sales materials to enable sales teams to be more effective and targeted.
Stuff International then provides art direction materials, so that the business owners can take their new vision to local agencies to produce the work.
Below are some examples of the work done and being done with Neil and the SMEs.
Cosmos is a security company, operating in the private home market, previously known under a family name, but it was agreed to change it to Cosmos as it was felt to reflect more effectively the quality services provided by the company. Having assessed the company and established a potential vision for it the with the owners, Stuff International summarised their conclusions in a draft of a sales tool, or hand-drawn “scamp” that could be developed into a brochure or used as a guideline for creating other sales tools or redesigning their website, which can be done by local agencies.
The scamp shows how Cosmos could highlight its range of three security solutions for homes and how diagrams can help customers see more clearly the range of products and their use, leaving the company to add their words.
3D Photography Business
Neil assessed the company’s main 3D product, which requires special glasses in order to view the images.
He worked with the company to enable it to think more broadly in order to improve potential sales. They came up with ideas such as using their technology to do more types of 3D printing, perhaps producing sculpture for events, so that they could provide unique 3D solutions for promotions and so be different to all other event organisers.
The owner of Noble Fish is based in the countryside outside St Peterburg and supplies fresh Sturgeon and Salmon (sometimes live) to local restaurants. Neil worked with the owner to develop a new name and logo for the company. Inspiration came from the story that she had a cat who used to go to waterfront to try to catch the Sturgeon and Salmon
The name came from her supplying the King of Fish – Noble Fish.
To encapsulate the new name and brand identity, Stuff International put together a draft sales document aimed at focusing on the hotel and restaurant market. The products were divided into fresh fish (Salmon and Sturgeon) and caviar. They assessed delivery methods, prices, price lists and packaging and how to seek out new customers in the region. They also discussed creating a range of prepared food and perhaps opening a combined restaurant and fishmonger.
Two young business owners have developed seasoning for direct application to plated food. They currently have three recipes for meat, fish and all food. They have just started selling into Spar and other retailers are lining up. Neil worked with them to assess their business strategy and branding.
Stuff International Design has been asked to design some buildings for the planned new financial district in Qingdao and is seeking to attract global financial institutions to locate here. Qingdao is a stunning second tier City with a population of 7 million, bordering the Yellow Sea, with the biggest container port in the world, with beautiful parks and beaches. We believe the buildings we have designed are iconic, symbolising the rising of a new, successful financial centre, not just in Qingdao, but within the whole China.
To make it a vibrant new centre of the City, Stuff International is offering visitors, workers and residents in this area facilities where they can work, rest and play. Besides its financial offices and facilities, we have designed a spherical museum to display a large Ming collection from a private owner (part of our team). We have also linked these buildings creatively with the local metro, roads and infrastructure, offering shops, service outlets, restaurants, bars and other community facilities. Stuff International has partnered with Mike Dethick Partners.
Designed by Stuff International, this iconic 43 storey tower being built in Yekaterinburg is steadily rising from the ground. It is due to be completed in 2017 and is a mixed used development including commercial, residential and retail. It will have an entertainment area with a bar, restaurant, seating zones, play area and gym. There will also be a stunning roof top bar overlooking city.
On 27 July Just Falafel opened its latest outlet in Croydon, Greater London, designed by Stuff International.
Just 3 months earlier, in April, its Baker Street branch opened, opposite the Central London tube station, also designed by by Stuff International. Baker Street was the fourth Just Falafel to be opened in Central London and since then this tiny unit has won two awards as its top performer.
Stuff is very pleased with customers’ response to the new outlets, which have drawn good crowds. Healthy non-meat snacks are increasingly popular in the UK and worldwide and Just Falafel is seeking to expand rapidly in the UK.
Stuff International is the architect and an investor behind a 5,000 square feet first floor development in Barnes, London. Planning permission has been obtained to change its use from office space to residential.
Stuff International will transform the first floor of the Old Sorting Office into 6 luxury flats, located in the centre of Barnes and overlooking the famous pond.
In June Gourmet Hotdog appointed Stuff International Design Limited to undertake their rebranding and to redesign their packaging, menus, website and do their advertising and messaging. The new "Empire Dogs" branding was launched at the Olympia Speciality Fine Food Fair in September, drawing a huge amount of interest.
Television presenter and food expert Gregg Wallace is also involved, helping to change public perception of the humble hotdog, advising on the recipes, taste and packaging. Created by serial restaurateur Mark Yates (founder of Livebait and The Real Greek), the company has branches in Canary Wharf, Stansted Airport, Clapham Junction and Charing Cross and is planning to expand rapidly.
Each hotdog is hand-made, steamed and smoked in their own kitchens in London Bridge. They have less than 7% of saturated fats and are less than 350 calories per dog (including the bun) - so appeal to health aware consumers, as well as those seeking a wholesome snack.
Stuff International focused on the company’s South London roots around the docks and the quality, provenance and taste created by using British meat and spices sourced from the around the globe.
The dogs include: The Duke of Cajun - Red Tractor Farm assured British chicken; The Earl of Frankfurt - outdoor reared British pork; The Baron of Pamplona - Red Tractor Farm assured British Beef.
Neil Whitehead, founder of Stuff International said:
"We are very excited about how much attention and sales have been attracted by the new brand and packaging we created for Empire Dogs. To have a food product that is so low in fat, sodium and calories that tastes great has been a dream to work with and yet a challenge for us to develop an effective brand positioning and so we are pleased with customers' very positive reactions."
The new brand and packaging has already resulted in a huge increase in interest and orders from supermarkets and particularly from those servicing airlines, trains, service stations and convenience stores. With new flavours planned, the brand has strong growth prospects.
13 March 2013
Mark Downie has been appointed a partner by Stuff International Design Ltd, to set up and run its Middle East and Africa Office in Dubai. The new venture is based on the growing financial strength of these regions, with many businesses creating local brands that are now fit for international expansion.
Just Falafel, a business created in Dubai, is one of the brands Stuff International Design is assisting in its expansion in the UK. Its fast food offer is based on traditional regional non-meat street food.
Mark’s expertise in is New Product Development, Marketing Promotion and Management Consultancy. His experience includes working with Unilever, Beecham Products International based in the Chairman’s Strategic Development Group overseeing several product categories globally, and for various clients in FMCG and consumer durables in Europe, the Middle East, USA and Russia. He is also a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold many companies, was born in Scotland and is a graduate of Edinburgh University in Psychology and International Business.
Stuff International Design’s founder, Neil Whitehead, said:
“Dubai, the Middle East and Africa are very exciting markets for us. We are seeing the development of products and brands that are now well placed, with our assistance, to be expanded and introduced to new markets globally. So we are very pleased to have Mark Downie on board, who has lived and worked in Dubai for many years, and we are already assessing many opportunities for future projects.”
12 March 2013
Stuff International Design Ltd has formally appointed Ruslan Mizerkevich as Project Manager of Stuff International Ukraine. Having worked with Stuff International for a number of years on a variety of large scale developments and their fund raising, with more opportunities in the Ukraine arising, it was felt important to formalise the relationship.
Ruslan is based in Donetsk and brings his project management, tenacity and language skills to the team. Euroinvest Group Ltd is Ruslan's own investment development, construction and sales company in the Ukraine. With Ruslan, Stuff International Design, as an international concept architect can deliver all concepts, approvals and construction for developments in Ukraine.
Stuff International Design’s founder, Neil Whitehead, said:
“The Ukrainian market's growth and demand for international design is looking promising for us and so we are pleased that Ruslan is formally joining us as a partner. Our goal is to build a better quality of life for all in Ukraine and we can showcase our experience in Russia, where we have just completed our 50th project.”
6 March 2013
At London South Bank University’s Launch of the “Enterprise Network”, Neil Whitehead was the keynote speaker as LSBU’s Entrepreneur in Residence and Founder and Director of Stuff International Design Ltd. Held at the Keyworth Centre, Southwark Campus in London, it was an opportunity to meet like-minded business people, student and graduate entrepreneurs; exchange best practices, network and gain insight into what support is available to businesses.
Winner: Charlotte Beck, CEO of Saint ClinX Alternative School Provision, with Neil Whitehead (right) with Dragon's Den's Richard Farleigh (second from left)
10 February 2013
Today construction began of Galaxy, a retail development whose concept was designed by Stuff International Design Ltd. The development is to be over three floors with a footplate of 60,000 square metres. Stuff also undertook all the branding and way-finding concepts, reflecting the brand name. It is due to be completed this year.
2 February 2013
Pizza Hut Delivery has today opened its 25th outlet designed by Stuff International Design Ltd.
Stuff developed a new modular stand-alone system to enable franchisees to improve the look of their units. These also have made a positive impact on the high street, while optimising the unit's space and minimising expenditure, with the modular format ensuring very rapid installation.
This modular design has appealed to many franchisees and so seen the designs rolled out across the UK – with today's announcement of the opening of its 25th unit. Franchisees have found that with the new concept, sales have improved, in spite of the difficult economic environment.
12 January 2013
Declared "the Best Small Shopping Centre in Russia in 2008", Raduga, in Chelyabinsk, welcomed its millionth visitor on 12 January 2013. Its award winning design was created by Stuff international Design Ltd.
When opened on 5 November 2007 it already had 98% occupancy and it attracts a wide audience of customers seeking its wide rage of retail and food offers.
4 January 2013
Sipes, Egypt's second largest paint manufacturer, has today launched its exciting new product packaging designed by Stuff International Design Ltd.
Stuff International Design Ltd has unparalleled experience in the European paint manufacturing and retail market, especially in Egypt where it has worked with all the key operators. Working with Sipes required a significant understanding of its business, its positioning, knowledge of its products, the sales and market of each, leading to the science of their line logic. The result has been the development of this new packaging, the first of which was launched today.
2 January 2013
Stuff International Design Ltd today celebrated its 50th project in its 12th city in Russia. Since the company was founded in 2005, eight years ago, Stuff International has been commissioned to create master visions and design these projects, many of which have been mixed used and retail developments. Stuff brings an international flavour to Russian developments and a vast amount of experience in how to maximise their commercial potential.
1 January 2013
Stuff International Design Ltd has designed a 43 story mixed use building and today the foundation stone was laid as building began. Stuff International Design Ltd was commissioned by Atomstroy, one of the largest developer construction companies in the Russian Urals, to undertake a master plan and concept design for a 43 storey mixed used development and it will be the second tallest building in Yekaterinburg.
The aim was to create an iconic building that would be a new focus in this growing city. The plan for this complex building blends and mixes the commercial office space with residential, leisure, retail and hotel use. Stuff had to comply with traffic requirements for the city and also planned the parking for both the commercial and retail elements. Completion is due in 2015 and Stuff International Design Ltd is overseeing its design development during this process.
10 December 2012
The new town of Copatyka is being designed for Atomstroy by Stuff International Design Ltd. Today the ground works began for the infrastructure of this exciting development, which will soon be inhabited by a population of some 17,000 people, including homes, offices and leisure on the 70 hectare site.
Inspired by the world’s new towns, including Milton Keynes and Welwyn Garden City, it is located in the most beautiful area, an hour’s drive from the centre of Yekaterinburg. Atomstry, one of the largest developer construction companies in the Russian Urals, will move its Head Office here.
Stuff has organised all aspects of the site, from roads and parking, to housing, commercial, offices, retail and leisure. The aim is to create a real community that will be able to enjoy its beautiful surroundings, so Stuff International has planned the orientation of the development to afford attractive views and integrate it with the natural environment.
Stuff has created a unique design and range of buildings that incorporate a flavour of the vernacular and work with the extreme weather conditions of the region.
The building of this town will be phased over the next 10 years.
5 December 2012
GLC Paints today launched into the Egyptian paint market its new brand identity, designed by Stuff International Design Ltd. It is the start of a process which will see this new look implemented across all items ranging from the paint and other product packaging (from January 2013), to letterheads.
GLC Paints is a family German-Lebanese paint manufacturing and sales company and is the third largest in the Egyptian market. Stuff International Design Ltd was commissioned to create a new brand identity and product line logic for their products.
Once their new factory is completed in April 2013, the new product ranges will be launched and the aim is for this redesign to take them into second position in the market.
22 November 2012
Just Falafal today appointed Stuff International Design Ltd to adapt and redesign its Master Concept and to develop the new format across a number of different locations in the UK.
Just Falafel is a master franchise originating from the United Emirates. It is a new vegetarian fast food concept, with an image that is fresh and bold. Its parent company, The Veg Zone Limited, is looking to expand the franchise across the UK and Europe.
The first project is to adapted the design of the Baker Street outlet, with a small footprint, that requires a skillful planning configuration in order to maximise its operational efficiency and is due to open in March 2013.
After having successfully taken part in a number of development and design conferences over the past year, Stuff International Design Ltd is looking forward to the next opportunity to share its experience with an Eastern European audience. This time – at Mall Expo exhibition to take place in Kiev, Ukraine. The event, dedicated to commercial, retail and entertaining centres, is comprised of a number of conferences. Neil Whitehead will introduce the topic 'One-Stop Shop or Employing Specialists' at a conference 'Retailtainment in Ukraine: Development of the Successful Concept of the Commercial
Within our established tradition, the Stuff team does not miss a chance to visit key events of the Russian real estate and development community. PROestate forum, which will gather representatives of more than 3,000 companies from over 30 countries of the world, is a true red-letter-day in our calendar. This year Neil will take part in a panel discussion ‘Design in Architecture’ as one of the key speakers.
More about the event:
In cooperation with our long-term partner APN (Australian Property Network), Stuff has undertaken a short but productive trip to Madrid, Spain, to audit two shopping centres for potential refurbishment and rebranding.
But it wasn't just the Spanish sun that got the team excited about these projects. The potential redesign of existing buildings and the possibility of breathing new life into them by means of renewed branding and signage – that is what th Stuff team is really looking forward to.
On 21 June the winners of Commercial Real Estate Federal Awards were announced. The gala dinner, held on the beach in Sochi, was the climax of a several day Summit, announcing the best real estate buildings put in operation in 2007 in different parts of Russia.
Among the winners of the prestigious ‘Golden Brick’ awards was the RADUGA shopping center in Chelyabinsk, which was chosen the best small sized shopping centre in Russia. The centre was brought to life by developer OOO Center-M and designed by Stuff International Design Ltd.
The Stuff team is proud of this remarkable achievement and sends it sincere congratulations to the RADUGA team on the victory!
Stuff International Design Ltd has developed designs and brand packages (logos, identity, directional signage) for two stores in the Moscow region for TeliaSonera, the Scandinavian telecommunications company.
Although both stores are different in terms of positioning and target audience, both comprise retail and office space with entertainment offers and are set to become favourite destinations for their local communities.
Neil Whitehead, spoke about issues of design, marketing and commercial success at the V annual conference in Yekaterinburg, ‘Shopping Centres and Contemporary Trading Formats’. The event included visit to major shopping centres in the area, workshops and talks, including the mayor of Yekaterinburg.
Stuff International Design Ltd took part in a series of workshops "Profitability Increase of Commercial Real Estate Objects with the Use of Marketing Tools", launched by Infor-Media Russia, a leading B2B-conference organiser. Neil Whitehead, Stuff’s Founder, was one of the key speakers, delivering a talk on the topic ‘Methodology of achieving a unique position in the market for architectural and design solution that brings commercial success’.
A unique russian fast-food chain 'City' has opened a new restaurant at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. Comprising stylish interiors designed by Stuff International Design Ltd and great food offers, the cafe is sure to be a success among Russian and international travellers.
In Russia, Stuff International Design took part in the seminar held in Nizhniy Novgorod Chamber of Commerce and Industry: 'What makes a successful commercial development'. The seminar was attended by representatives of local development companies, architectural bureau's and design studios. Following the presentation, Neil Whitehead, Stuff International Design Ltd's founder was interviewed by 'Clear Design' magazine.
A new project “Samolet” ("Aircraft" in Russian) will have a great impact on the economics of the city.
On the 14th of April a new Shopping Centre with 20,000 m2 foot area will be launched in Ulyanovsk. “Samolet” is a new project of a commercial property development company DARS.
We interviewed Sergey Sedov, the Managing Director of DARS before the Shopping Centre was opened.
How did you come up with the idea for such a massive shopping centre?
“Samolet” has become a next step in our expansion. Business either moves forward or stops its development and stagnates. We wanted to develop and achieved it. And the timeline for the project is really impressive: a three-storey 20 000 m2 conventional build was erected within one year and six months.
Do you think there is a need for shopping centres of such a scale in the city? People might question the necessity of having so many of them in Ulyanovsk.
Serious marketing research comes before any serious business project. By the analysis of economical situation, sociological researches, having considered other important factors we can make a conclusion on weather a project is going to be successful. We have undertaken such a research and decided that our city needs such a Shopping Centre. City development is logical and natural and that’s how all modern cities look now. We should all be really happy about it!
What should we be happy about? There just will be more overpriced boutiques that are not affordable to most of the people.
That is an absolutely wrong attitude. Let’s start from the prices. It is commonly known that competition results in price decreasing and quality of service improvement. It also busts local business development which improves and becomes more effective.
Such projects also have a great social impact. The building was erected within one year and a half, which means that we secured builders jobs for two seasons. Secondly, we created 1500 retail vacancies. Thirdly, we will host companies, which entered the local market only because of the existence of big scale shopping centre. Launching “Samolet” will also revive advertising market. Additionally, we are planning to improve adjoining territories with the help of our landscape designers. But the most important fact is that now in Ulyanovsk we will not just have a place where you can come and buy some goods but also a place to enjoy. We are going to introduce food court and kids play zone “Star Galaxy” for the first time in Ulyanovsk! Food court – is an open space with different food offering concepts such as “Sbarro”, “Grill master” etc. We will move forward from common plastic and metal seating and will have cosy leather banquette seating.
“Star Galaxy” is definitely something special! Interactive games, festive events, space attractions – one can’t describe it by words, you need to see it by yourself!
And a last question, quite traditional – your plans for the future?
I live on the right side of the river, so I’m a little jealous that this Shopping Centre will be on the other side. The only thing that comforts me is that DARS is planning another massive project on the left river bank. These are our nearest future plans.
10 April 2007
Translated from Russian