Kiss House, Kiss House Team, News | 10 August 2022
New customer demo area and materials space.
We moved office in June to a new office with lots of space to grow and to do exciting things.
Our new office is the ground floor of Bowman House, a Georgian building, located in the Castle Street Conservation Area in the centre of Reading.
The area is steeped in history and is believed to be where the early Anglo-Saxons settled, and where Reading town centre originated.
Our office building sits on the corner of Bridge Street, Castle Street and Gun Street, three historical streets.
Bridge Street took its name from the seven bridges that passed over various channels of the River Kennet. It is thought this was the earliest crossing place of the river.
Castle Street housed beautiful three-storey gabled buildings, which in their time would have been high status residences built to represent wealth and standing. It also housed The Rising Sun (now the Sun Inn), one of the many inns found in the area. Overtime this came to serve much of the coaching traffic of the town, and is thought to be built with elements of the remains of the old Reading country gaol.
Gun Street is where from the 17th Century, gunsmiths made and traded their wares.
Our building also sits directly opposite Reading Minster, St Mary’s Church, which was established sometime in the late 6th or early 7th century. The church was granted minister status to denote its importance, and would have drawn a congregation from a wide area. Its importance extended beyond religion as it made a significant economic and social impact on the small, but expanding settlement.
The Olde Street upon which the church resides became known as St Mary’s Butts and has seen many changes over time. This area is now a conversation area. In June 1887 the Jubilee Fountain, commissioned by the Borough Committee for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee was formerly unveiled. Sadly, the fountain stopped working and the largest basin was transformed into a planter which remains today.
Bowman House dates back to 19th century and was granted grade II listed status in 1977. In the 1950’s the building was transformed into Reading’s Doll’s Hospital, where many Reading residents bought their dolls to be repaired. In the 1980’s parts of the building were rebuilt, with the original roof and some internal walls kept complete.
The Reading Chronicle moved into the building in 2014 and at one time occupied the ground floor that Kiss House has moved into — prior to this there was a short stint of it being a barbers shop.
“Our new office is really allowing the Kiss House team to evolve and we can’t wait to welcome customers in for appointments!”
Sian Bevan, Business Support Exec
The story so far
The move across town from our previous office went well and everyone loves our new space. It is wonderfully spacious! We already had a plan for the space but putting it into action began in earnest as soon as we moved in!
We have a shop front area is attached to our main office which is not something we were looking for. In some ways this is the most exciting element of our new space, and we will be turning it into a customer demo space. The demo space will enable us to walk customers through the entire Kiss House journey. In addition we are creating a materials library to showcase the materials used in our homes and enable customers to get their hands on them.
For the first week we all got stuck into building various new pieces of furniture. Desks and tables soon began to spring up and the office began to take shape, (just don’t talk to Alice about the recycling box, which now seems to have mysteriously disappeared).
Internet was not so easy to sort and poor Sian spent many long hours on the phone to BT!
“I feel like the new office is a reflection of the hard work and dedication that has lead to it. It feels like Kiss House can now officially make our stamp on the industry, from a place where we feel at home! ”
Alice Swain, Marketing
New ergonomic chairs, sit stand desks and panels for our two separate offices (the rest is open plan) were delivered. The team now had a breakout table and kitchen and felt settled very quickly. Kiss House Thursday team lunches could resume.
Plans for the rest of the space began to take shape. Our vision for this includes:
- new meeting room
- materials library
- quiet working pods
- bespoke pieces of furniture using Kiss House materials, techniques and finishes
- new customer demon area in the shop front space
- more break out space including a window seat
Carli and Mike began to discuss materials with Latham’s and fabrication with Easi-Space, and we started to invite our first guests in for meetings.
Construction began in the demo space, and our new glass walled meeting room sprang up in the corner of our open plan office. We will be a Kiss House designed manifold to the glass shortly.
The shop front was refurbed and fixed up and is looking great ahead of the fit-out.
We started to see a lot more of Richard Green, Head of Manufacturing, in the office helped by having more space. We also got to meet his gorgeous dog Earnie which was lovely!
Alas, the fly in the ointment this month was Sian’s continual calls to BT as the internet continued to elude us. Eventually, after countless hours she managed to get it sorted. We are now up and running and are incredibly grateful to Sian for her commitment to the cause!
The office is feeling more like home with developments every day — soft furnishings, lots more plants, samples arriving en-masse. Personally I love the plants, they are beautiful to look at and give me that much needed connection to nature.
The arrival of material samples are a constant source of excitement. So far we have samples from:
- Aristech surfaces
- Egger Decorative Collection
- Harvey Maria
- Lathams (much of this list is supplied by them)
- LG Hausys
- Portugese treasures
- Sutton Timber
- T Matt
- The Colour Flooring Company
We are now working on material palettes (choosing is the tricky part!), that we will display in our demo space. The walls of the new office are filling with the results of various brainstorms and creative sessions.
We have been established a strong relationship with Lathams over the past year and we are so thankful to them for all their help and material deliveries to date, which all feature in our demo space. The team have lined one wall in the space with oak veneered Garnica poplar plywood. Garnica’s sustainable plywood is unique. It is made from poplar trees in southern Europe, instead of the normal northern European spruce produced ply. It is 30% lighter than normal plywood so is easier to transport, making it a great material for offsite construction. The lightness also means that it requires less foundations on site.
Our other wall has been lined with a high quality birch faced poplar ply, finished with a picture rail trim of light grey Valchromat.
We have also had a delivery of Honext, an upcycled paper-waste product that can be used instead of plasterboard, produced in Spain. They have had a lot of high profile interest, including Stella McCartney who wants to use it in her shops! But we will be using it to line our quiet pods which will be at the back of the office. Honext material has great acoustic properties, so should help create nice little hideaways for when we need to focus!
The factory team have started to develop some bespoke furniture pieces for the office — we can’t wait to see them in the space and start using them.
The walls are now all prepared for graphics, and we have had new blinds fitted in the demo space, so it feels like it is starting to come together!
To be continued…
Watch this space
Watching our vision come to life is amazing and we cannot wait to share it with you — both in our next update and in person.
I will be updating our Stories page as we progress, and will include more images and hopefully videos showing us making our new space the official Kiss House home!
Let us know if you’d like to visit.