The expanding Space vision


The Space Design Associates name may be new, but the former Catering Design Ltd’s pedigree stretches back to 2000.

The Stockton-on-Tees based distributor was created that year to provide high-end commercial catering environments to clients across the UK. In 2007 came sister firm, Learning Space Design, focusing on teaching and learning spaces within HE and FE institutions.

Then Catering Design Ltd and Learning Space Design joined forces this spring to form Space Design Associates.

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At the time, the new merged firm stated: “With two separate companies came two of everything – domain names, web sites, telephone numbers, email addresses – the more we thought about, it the more sense it made to amalgamate these two sides of the business into one. This gives us one brand identity, one point of contact, one unified team and one clear message.”

To seal the rebrand, the company launched a new website, and the new identity has been so successful that in September, Space Design Associates moved to larger offices, based at Stockton’s multi-million pound digital and scientific hub, Fusion Hive.

Claire Richardson, director of Space Design Associates, said: “One of the main reasons for the move is to be in a location that facilitates growth and our former office was simply not big enough to accommodate our vision.

“Our new premises have been chosen to accommodate expansion and I see a full office with a dedicated team, working to create perfect spaces for our clients across the UK.

“We are building a business that can be sustained, which means bringing in the right people, for the right positions, at the right time. It’s also great to be surrounded by like-minded businesses and being based at the Hive gives us direct access to potential sources of business – so we thought ‘why would we not move?’”

The office relocation is just one of many ventures Space Design Associates has experienced in recent years, having played a main role in several groundbreaking projects, with the most prolific being its involvement in the new £95m emergency hospital based in Cramlington.

Space Design Associates was approached by Northumbria NHS Trust and asked to design the catering related areas for the new hospital, which is the first of its kind in the country.

Director Keith Richardson, who was heavily involved in the project, said: “It was great to be trusted by Northumbria Healthcare to be involved in the design of such an innovative new hospital facility.

“We were retained by the Trust to design the layout and operation of 24 different catering and ancillary areas and were also involved in the design of a new patient feeding system, allowing patients to choose from an extensive menu, at any time of the day.” [[page-break]]

These spaces included the main production kitchen, central dish-wash area, staff and public restaurant, 12 individual ward kitchens, walk-in cold and freezer rooms, store rooms and staff rest room.

Patient feeding was given high priority in the design brief – a system was required that could provide a wide choice of meals which could be delivered at any time of the day or night and with a consistently high degree of quality.

“Initial design work started in September 2011, with the final delivery and commissioning of the project completing in March 2015, so we worked on this for the best part of 4 years,” added Keith. The project had to be completed ready for the opening of the UK’s first purpose built hospital dedicated to emergency care this summer.

Space Design worked with the Trust’s preferred food supplier Apetito, which provides frozen pre-packaged food options that can be regenerated at ward level, giving the staff control over individual patient food requirements.

As each meal is regenerated in special ovens within the ward kitchens and controlled by bar codes, the food should be delivered to the patients at the right temperature and full of nutrients and flavour. This system is also claimed to reduce food waste.

Keith detailed: “On the back of the work we did at Cramlington, we were then asked to design a similar facility for the new multi-million pound extension to West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.”

Space Design Associates also received a boost by becoming one of the latest companies to win a Twitter competition organised by ex Dragons’ Den entrepreneur, Theo Paphitis.

The Small Business Sunday scheme was created by Paphitis in 2010. Each week he asks small businesses to tweet him using the SBS hashtag between 5pm and 7.30pm on a Sunday night. He then chooses five of these to re-tweet to his more than 450,000 followers, therefore giving the small business great marketing exposure.

In August, Space Design Associates tweeted to Paphitis: “Hi @TheoPaphitis, Have you seen our new website yet? We create perfect spaces!”

Paphitis chose and congratulated the winners a few days later. Space has now added its company profile to the Small Business Sunday website. The firm later tweeted: “So delighted to be a winner.”

Claire puts the company’s success down to professionalism, perseverance and personality and is excited about what the future holds. She said: “We are currently working with business mentors to put a plan into place for company growth. With their help and continued hard work, the future is looking very bright indeed.

“We have also just been awarded two new contracts, in new markets for us – golf clubs and social clubs – so who knows what’s next?"

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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