You might imagine designers hunched over pads of paper, feverishly coming up with sketches and technical drawings for their next interior design, bespoke furniture commission, or other creative work. However, we believe that in order to come up with innovative and original ideas, it’s important to get out and about a bit.

We are constantly on the move to seek out new things as part of our research for projects. We visit all sorts of places – sometimes time and time again – read a bit, watch television of interest, as well as keep up with the latest art, movie, and music trends. We continually search for inspiration, enjoy furthering our general knowledge, and like to be informed about what’s going on in the world.

Here’s what we’ve been up to recently.


April 14 Blog PicsWe enjoyed a visit to the British Museum and the National Gallery, but unfortunately missed out on seeing two of Vincent van Gogh’s four famous sunflower paintings. The queues for these were long, and waiting the length of time we would have had to would have been like watching paint dry, which we do enough of on site.

The British Museum was founded in 1753, and was the first national public museum in the world. If you want to visit, admission is free and always has been. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, states on the British Museum’s website that “Parliament set up the British Museum to allow all ‘studious and curious persons’ both ‘native and foreign born’ to construct their own history of the world and to find their place in it.” We wonder whether there’s as eclectic a mix of people visiting nowadays?

The National Gallery opened in 1838 in Trafalgar Square. There had been discussions as to where it would be best to construct the building, and it was finally decided that Trafalgar Square was the most suitable place because it was in the centre of London, and therefore accessible to all. Again, it would be interesting to see who the main demographic is now.


Driving is a necessary evil for those at Made In Place – it’s an effective mode of transport for those of us outside of major towns and cities but we’d cycle everywhere if we could.

As well as visiting the National Gallery and British Museum, we encountered the former Renault Distribution Centre in Swindon on our travels by car. This building was determined as Grade II listed just last year. British architect Norman Foster was given the following brief when approached by Renault in 1980: “becoming recognisable within your market, you must also become recognisable in the environment”. We like to try and follow suit – unless of course the brief is to blend in to the surroundings.

One has to make the most of time spent on the road, so during this trip we also visited the ruins of Tintern Abbey in Wales, which was built 400 years ago – you probably couldn’t have seen two such contrasting buildings in one journey if you’d tried.

This road trip ended up in Hereford and a bit of a site survey. Next month we expect our road trips to take in Manchester, Strasbourg, and Glasgow, amongst other places.


Fire AlarmAs usual we’ve been reading those books inextricably linked to design:

  • The Passivhaus Handbook
  • The UK Building Regulations (parts B, K, L, and M mostly), as well as means of escape from fire in shops and offices (BS5588 / BS9999).
  • And the ever-faithful SPONS Price Books

We had a small chuckle the other day whilst out and about. A fire alarm bell, which could have been placed on a wall further from the fire escape door, had been fitted so close that a section of the frame had been cut away in order to attach it. Attention to detail was perhaps lacking – still the architrave was nicely cut in.


The books we’ve read, or we’re still reading, include Rivers of London and Moon Over Sohoby Ben Aaronovitch, as well as Auld Hands: The men who made Belfast’s shipyards great by Tom Thompson (a former shipyard worker). Thompson’s book is about the Harland & Wolff shipbuilding company in Belfast, and it’s very interesting to say the least.


In addition to reading we’ve been doing some film-watching. We thought Gravity was good, despite having an obvious storyline. It kept us enthralled and we think the amazing cinematography, as well as the hyperrealism achieved by CGI visual effects played a big part in that – very clever. The team behind it certainly deserved all of those Oscars.

Other films we watched include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Lake House.


DockyardThere have been a few things on television we’ve enjoyed too. The BBC documentary Dreaming the Impossible: Unbuilt Britain has been very interesting. It’s all about the grandest buildings which were designed but never came to be. We have a few of those, sometimes known as ‘blue sky’ projects!

Brits Who Built the Modern World, a programme about five famous and influential architects, has been an equally good watch.

We also enjoyed a rerun of the spy thriller Page Eight starring the brilliant Bill Nighy as Johnny Worricker – an amusing and interesting character. The second and third parts of the trilogy , Turks & Caicos, and Salting the Battlefield did not disappoint.