Donna and I headed to London to interview Harry Dwyer of Aircraft Workshop and TV’s Supersized Salvage programme. If any of you caught the show, you will remember it being an epic journey to upcycle an Airbus A320 and to see if upcycling is the answer to Britain’s waste problem. Kevin McCloud fronted the show and challenged three designers; Max McMurdo, Harry Dwyer and Paul Firbank to create exciting, practical pieces that as a collection would use the entire of the airplane. If you missed it, it is still available to watch online on the channel’s internet player.
Getting the opportunity to meet Harry was not the only reason we travelled from Harrogate to London and back in a day. The other reason was because we needed to pick up our rather impulsive Grand Designs Live purchase aka 2 airplane chairs, the design of which featured on the show. Of course what we really wanted to purchase was the incredible rocking chair version but alas that had been sold within minutes of the GD Live event starting. If you’ve read our Grand Designs blog or seen photos on twitter, you may remember, images like these showing our chairs being constructed on stage by Harry Dwyer and Charlie Waller:
After a straight forward journey down, we arrived at the offices and were instantly amazed by the fantastic set up. There could be no better location for designers of reused salvage than on the banks of the Thames in East London. Their offices are located in a reused London 2012 Olympics media centre which was originally repurposed from shipping containers. A credit to the London 2012 legacy and an all-round fantastic example of upcycling not once but twice! What’s more is that these bright, wonderfully pleasant and practical premises overlook the O2 Arena aka the old Millennium Dome and sit opposite an onsite diner which is the actual diner featured in the Gwyneth Paltrow film, Sliding Doors! How’s that for reuse?!
Full of industrial charm, you can see that inspiration for Aircraft Workshop can flow here in these great surroundings. Even on the entrance is an upcycled art piece featuring an iconic taxi cab with the license plate ‘London’ and a tall bare tree coming up through the middle.
This meant that we would need to travel to collect them and collect them we did. Luckily they are very easy to fit into any car (not just a Land Rover) as they neatly fold down.
Once the chairs were nicely put away, we all headed to the original Sliding Doors film diner, Fatboy’s for a cuppa where we began our interview.
Donna: Tell us why you want to join Remade? What about it appealed to you?
Harry: For me it’s about 2 things. One being meeting more contacts and being part of an upcycling community and the other about generating constant website traffic. It’s hard to keep on top of SEO, Google Adwords, social media, etc. as well as everything else. It would be much better to have that constant stream of traffic (that you do not have to work for) that you get from being on a marketplace as they do it for you. I think this is important moving forward as the TV show (Supersized Salvage) traffic does mellow a little more every month that passes. Hopefully our future TV appearances will also reignite interest and bring new visitors to our website. It’s all about exploring options to make our new business grow.
Michelle: What was it like meeting and working with Kevin McCloud?
Harry: It was great. He is such a great person. Interesting and funny and as enthusiastic as you might expect. It all happened so fast in the lead up to the show that it was all a bit surreal.
Donna: Tell me about Aircraft Workshop the business
Harry: Well it was all set up on the back of the show. A fairly new business really. It’s good that I am part of our family business too. We all decided to move from Devon to London and give things a real go. It’s great having lots of good people around.
Michelle: What’s next for you and the company?
Harry: Well, at the beginning of November I will be heading out to do a salvage and upcycling based show in New York. Should be in America for about a month or so filming which is really exciting. Other than that, there’ll be the new set up of our Remade in Britain shop where I can’t wait to list our new Airplane Magazine Rack.
The more observant of you will notice that Harry takes a break from squaring up (paying the bill), to give us a playful thumbs up through the window. That’s clear positivity for the Remade in Britain adventure captured on film.
I have to say we were thoroughly impressed with Harry, the airplane chairs and the premises. Harry was a fantastic, welcoming host, the airplane chairs are so cool, incredibly comfy, maybe surprisingly so, and the location was just a terrific place to be based for the industry they are in. There is nothing better for a brand or company like theirs than who believe in reuse and saving items from landfill, than to work in an area full of upcycled and repurposed. Not just funky installations, offices, diners and benches but even the O2 itself, which was once saved from demolition and repurposed from one entertainment venue into another.
Harry and Donna sit in front of the upcycled shipping container offices that have full wall to wall, top to bottom glass windows to look out to the water and O2 Arena.
I join in for the last photo of the day before we make our long journey back after a worthwhile day. Harry shows us how to recline and get the most out of the funky upcycled airplane seat chairs.
With a great day behind us we travelled the 6 and a half hour journey back (thanks, traffic!) with our neatly folded airplane chairs in the back of the car, pleased that we were armed and ready for some exciting PR shots and a funkier looking office!