It's a typically busy Thursday afternoon when I sit down with Jonathan Silver, founder and MD at Silver & Co.
, a 25 year old interior, architecture and branding design practice based in the Southwark/Borough Market area.
Nonetheless, amidst his bustling schedule, we've managed to pencil in 20mins to sit down to have a coffee and a chat.
25 years on and still going strong, what’s the secret to your success?
That’s a very big first question! What’s the secret to my success? Realising that what we were doing was Intelligent Inspired Design. It took a long time to know exactly what it was we were doing for people. Getting that phrase in place and understanding exactly what it is we’re delivering is the secret to what has and will continue to enable us to thrive for the past 25 years.
How has the nature of the business changed over the past 25 years and what has remained the same?
That’s two good questions! When I started Silver & Co a lot of the work was in commercial, but we’ve managed to grow retail, showrooms and residential with that. Technology has definitely been the biggest change; everyone was on a drawing board when we started all those years ago! We no longer have those mammoth long nights where one small change means an entire drawing change and technology has also been huge in terms of helping us with accuracy and transferring info quickly etc.I'd say what's remained the same is the need from clients for us to always get it right, to remain inspirational and consistently deliver practical solutions.
You have touched on this already – but your company has a strapline “Intelligent Inspired Design” what are your best/favourite examples of this?
Your questions are good girl!
project is underpinned with Intelligent Inspired Design and every solution is different, no job is the same. You see so many practices that have a house style where regardless of the situation, the solution is similar. With my hand on my heart, I can honestly say that that is not who we are, there is no Silver & Co house style and for me, that is the best possible solution.
Is the iconic Borough Market/London Bridge location deliberate? Did you want to be placed in London as opposed to another city/hub?
Another good question! When I first started and I was looking for my first office 25 years ago, Covent Garden was a creative power house full of designers. It was definitely a very wise move and we stayed in Covent Garden for 15 brilliant years, but it got to a point where it was no longer the place it used to be, it was no longer full of young creative design people, it was far too expensive and they all moved either to Farringdon/Clerkenwell area mostly and some to Southwark. I chose Southwark.
Interestingly enough, I remember hearing a client saying on the phone ‘I’ve employed a Covent Garden design consultancy’ and it had lots of cachet and to some extent Borough Market has that same cachet now.
What are the biggest challenges Silver & Co are facing right now?
Keeping my wonderful staff inspired…Learning to let them fly, enabling them to fly and getting out of the way. What I’ve learnt more and more with good people is that it’s about supporting them to fly. Earlier on, I probably felt much more that it was my business and my baby, but as time moved on I realised more and more that it’s about letting my colleagues get in the drivers seat, which is exactly what you’re doing with this interview!
Be sure to keep an eye out next week for parts two of three!
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Marketing Manager, Silver & Co.