As part of my new module this semester (Design Enterprise) I was put in a group with other students from my discipline. We had to research a company relative to interior design, interview them and do a presentation on them halfway through the semester.
We spent a bit of time researching which companies we would like to try and contact and settled on Rural Design Architects who are based on the Isle of Skye
One of my classmates, Tracy Smith, and I made the journey to Skye on the 6th of February. The whole journey was a disaster! It started with my car breaking down before we had even left Dundee and having to wait over two hours for the RAC to arrive! When we actually set off we realised that it was going to be 4 hours of driving on twisty wee B roads until we got to the ferry at Mallaig!
Only thing was, because we had to wait two hours for the RAC to arrive we missed the ferry in Mallaig by 7 MINUTES! So we had to double back and add another 2.5 hours driving on to the journey! We were knackered by the time we arrived at the hostel.
The next day we got up super early and drove to Portree to the Rural Design Architects studios. We met with the company director – Alan Dickson, and sat and chatted to him for over an hour about his businesses Rural Design Architects and RHouse prefabs.
His whole ethos for his business is about balancing his home and work life – everyone in the practice works 9-5, Monday – Friday and the only time they get overtime is when there are deadlines due. He doesn’t advertise and doesn’t chase clients, they come to him and this means he has more creative control over the projects. To be honest he’s a bit of a rockstar. The only way that he can manage to sustain a business like is is because he had already made a name for himself in large companies such as being a director of RMJM in Edinburgh. Knowing the business from the ground up was integral in his radical way of running the practice.
Alan has started another project – RHouse – a series of pre-fabricated houses aimed at a younger market to get their leg up on the property ladder. Living on Skye opened his eyes up to the problem that locals born and raised on the island can’t afford to live there any more as wealthy people have bought up the majority of the current properties to use as holiday homes. RHouse aims to solve this problem – all the studs are built in a warehouse in the next town and the external aspects of the building can be erected in 6 hours, making the building completely weatherproof in half a day!
I feel like many practices could take a leaf out of Alan Dickson’s book, he looks after his staff and puts them as an equal to the client. The staff are happy and produce beautiful, strong designs that are built to last.