Andy Russell is the CEO of Houseology Design Group, one of the premier design conglomerates in the UK. An expert in ergonomics and workspace design, Andy has over 15 years experience in the field and specialises in creating places of work that foster productivity, creativity and innovation.
With Houseology and Bureau+ recently becoming distribution partners of Tala, we decided to interview Andy to learn more about the origins of his expertise and how his industry is approaching sustainability.
Tell us about how you first entered the industry and your fascination with workspace design.
I entered the industry around 16 years ago through a friend at my rugby club who was leaving his job to travel the world. He asked me if I fancied taking his job and I thought ‘why not’? My first job in the industry was with an ergonomics company and at the time I don’t think I realised how important the 5 years I spent there would be.
How long have you worked for Bureau+ and Houseology? Describe a standout achievement during your time at the helm.
I have been in the role of CEO at Houseology Design Group for almost 3 years, prior to this, I founded Bureau in May 2016 and was subsequently bought out by the Group in November 2016.
As the driving force behind two major design-focused businesses with different customer profiles, what does your day-to-day look like?
Both businesses are different and have their own unique set of challenges, but importantly, also have significant synergies. My love is Product and People, so you can normally find me focused on one or the other. Just like any business, it’s the people who are in it that makes it tick – I just try to set the right strategy then get out the way.
People often say that ‘A project is only as good as the client that delivers the brief’. To what extent do you think this is true from your experience?
I think this is true to an extent; however, clients don’t know what they don’t know, and it’s our job to hold their hands on the search and discovery phase of a client brief. The earlier we are involved, the better – we like to work in support of the process and take ownership of the areas that we can add value.
The ergonomics and psychology that influence design is of great interest to you. Can you describe some of the trends and innovations that have inspired you in particular?
As we spend more and more time at our desks, movement is absolutely key in order to gain the most output throughout a day. Designers and manufacturers have been developing products that support the natural movements of the human body for years. It is only recently that these products have become available at a price point that allows entire offices to be completed to a standard that increases productivity and reduces musculoskeletal issues, whilst not impacting on design.
Products such as Humanscale’s QuickStand Lite are a perfect example of this.
Sustainability is very important to us at Tala. How is it approached within workspace design?
This has long been a hot topic within the workspace sector and many projects win awards (SKA, Breeam or LEED) for their sustainability and focus on their environmental impact, but I still feel we have a long way to go within product design. A key area that I think needs focus is the recycling / reuse of product.
Tell us about the most challenging project that you’ve worked on, that resulted in success?
We worked with a major financial institution to deliver a project in central London. The logistical challenges coupled with the fact that there were a total of 83 different suppliers on the project, made it a real challenge.
View a gallery of Bureau+‘s recent workspace projects below
Let’s play ‘Desert Island Interiors’. You’re forced to live in a hut on a remote tropical island and you can only take 3 pieces of furniture with you. What do you choose and why?
OFYR’s Steel Outdoor Fire Pit Bowl With Cooking Plate – Because a man’s gotta eat, and stay warm
Vondom’s Ulm Daybed – For designer comfort, with the added benefit of some shade
Maiori Design’s La Lampe Paris Outdoor Floor Lamp – To shed a little light on things when the sun goes down
What’s next for the Houseology Group? Are there any exciting projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?
We have some really exciting projects happening with a key focus on digitalisation of a very traditional space. Look out for launch dates!