Innermost isn’t like most design companies, with a self-described ‘anarchic’ approach to lighting and furniture that focuses on ‘raw, talented designers’. Intrigued, we had a chat with co-founder Russell Cameron to find out more.
Innermost began, like most good ideas, over a beer.
‘Steve and I spent one or three nights in the pub together and an idea started to form,’ Russell Cameron tells Portico Places. ‘We discussed our hopes and ambitions, and realised we had a shared vision of what we wanted to achieve.’
This was 1999, and for the past decade both men had worked for aseries of top design firms. They met at a young company called Design &Production, where they created products for clients as diverse as Knoll International, Boots and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
But for them it wasn’t enough.
'We were looking for new challenges,’ Russell recalls. ‘We wanted more freedom to explore our ideas and run the business how we wanted.’
It wasn’t easy at first, he concedes. ‘The biggest challenge was trying to establish our products with limited funds. The industry is dominated by long established corporations with far larger budgets, and we were small-fry.’
Yet it wasn’t long before they made their mark. Combining their expertise of design and manufacturing, they quickly picked up John Lewis as one of their first customers.
Now, nearly two decades later, they own a showroom in London’s Oxo Tower and sell their furniture and lighting to around 50 countries.
The ethos of Innermost is simple: the creation of cutting-edge, quality goods that last. Unlike many big brands, the company doesn’t import cheap materials, but instead partners with premium suppliers across the world.
‘This is what sets us apart,’ Russell says. ‘Our biggest market is Britain, but we source supplies from the place best suited to the product. Sowe buy fabric from UK mills, glass from artisans in the Czech Republic and cork from Spain.’
Linking all Innermost products is one key concept: innovation. ‘We always want to rebel from the norm and defy expectation. We’re particularly interested in the use of light, and how illumination can be used as a raw material.’
Both Russell, 46, and Steve, 48, believe strongly in having a hands-on approach to the business. As well as designing many of their products themselves, they oversee the production, testing, marketing, distribution and customer service.
They’re so confident in the quality of their products, they offer a three-year warranty as standard.
‘This in-house management of the entire process allows us to guarantee the highest standards, as well as giving us flexibility when it comes to bespoke products,’ Russell explains. ‘We’re passionate about every detail along the way.’
They also care about ethical and environmental issues, he stresses. Innermost pays ‘above and beyond’ the market rate, while maintaining a ‘compliant and responsible’ supply chain.
New aims for 2018 include reducing plastic packaging and promoting Bluetooth LED lighting that could save customers around £240 per year.
‘The next major change is connectivity,’ Russell says. ‘We want to produce versatile and functional lighting that’s affordable for everyone.’
But that’s just the start, he adds. ‘There’s so much more to explore, in terms of tech and design developments! We may need a few more trips to the pub, however…’
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