“I never knew grey paint could look so good”. The guys in the new studio at Yeo Design on The Strand in Bude grinned. “That’s how you know you’ve got the design right”.
To be fair, the grey was offset by a bright orange staircase, which I absolutely loved. Flashes of orange form part of Yeo’s trademark. If you’re into colour psychology, you will know that orange indicates vibrancy, creativity and light-touch determination, which rather sums up Yeo’s approach. As I rave about the staircase (barely containing my desire to walk on it) Director Adam Hodgson makes me giggle when he says: “My Dad hates the staircase so I know it is bang on for us, as he is the complete opposite of our target market”. Cue an internal sigh of relief as I know communication here will be easy, and I won’t need to know anything about design! Phew.
It’s a little zany and unexpected in the Bude studio, yet very professional in a friendly way. This approachability is reflected in the Yeo website and social media, where the guys explain they are not the ‘love ’em and leave ’em type’. They will rise to any design challenge, for one room, a whole house, or a group of buildings. They will make the items in their local workshop, fit them, and ensure the aftercare is there. It’s all you’d expect from a high-end quality design outfit. Yet, creative business sense combines beautifully with down-to-earth common sense, a rare combination. There is no stuffiness or over-hype.
Yeo is the creative and technical talent of two mates who met at school in Bude. Their deliciously-designed website gives a good glimpse of their attitude, their work and their affable personalities. It is also very clear about how the design process takes place and what customers can expect from this calibre company.
James Yeo hails from just across the border in beautiful Bradworthy and mainly works in their London studio, but Adam Hodgson is ‘proper Cornish’ who is based in Bude. They have gone down a storm both at home and further afield. On leaving school, James completed a five-year apprenticeship in fine furniture-making while Adam started out in construction. The two skillsets inter-relate brilliantly to ensure incredible things can be created in their North Devon workshop. Yet the guys are not afraid to team up with others – architects, interior designers and construction professionals – to complete people’s home design dreams, the kind of living space that truly reflects the buyer.
Along with their top-tier, innovative professional service, they offer a touch of the unexpected, a splash of wild, attracting those who want something a bit different, a tad unpredictable. Like a rogue wave over the breakwater, they will take you by surprise but the end result will still surpass expectations. They reckon their sense of difference comes from their Cornish/Devon roots mirroring the incredible physical environment in which they were raised.
“Our wording and voice are reflected in the way we speak”, says Adam, “we are as we sound, so we have a bit of Devon & Cornwall banter going on”. He adds: “We work well and efficiently together, with great communication, but we also aim to be approachable and nice to work with. We want to give people ideas to make their dreams come to fruition, but also to take on board their thoughts so we can build a product which really suits its owner”.
Adam started life in Week St Mary, then moved to Bude, only taking a couple of years away from Cornwall while working as a carpenter in Bristol and travelling to Australia to play cricket for a year. Beguiling Bude called him back, as it does for so many.
On his return, he went into business and started Nine Design, but has now moved on to be in business with James. They guys, who played footy together at school, are still the best of friends and like a laugh, despite working hard. They trust each other’s ideas and honesty. James is very technical and an amazing project manager and businessman, while Adam enjoys the creative side most, so they completely complement each other. Adam feels his knowledge of construction helps with design because he knows what will work at a practical level. His design eye comes from the passion for wanting to do something different, but it is a team effort, where James and Adam run ideas past each other, and obviously work closely with their clients and other professionals. It is being open to input and new ideas which keeps things fresh.
A sense of place is really important to Yeo Design. Adam is keen on establishing the relaxed professional south-west vibe from the Bude studio. He explains: “Cornwall and Devon are both beautiful. That sense of place is a key part of who we are and what we do. Lots of people love the idea of furniture handmade in Britain, especially Cornwall. If people want to holiday in Bude and see where it is made, so much the better, they can. We have London architects designing things down here with whom we work collaboratively but we really feel our ideas are underpinned by a sense of where we are from”.
Adam and James have a keen creative vision but they will listen to others to gets things spot-on. They make mistakes, as anyone who takes a risk does, but they learn from them and will strike out, innovate, push the design boundaries, to find what works, and to avoid any major ‘design crimes’. They also embrace change to keep ideas flowing and business dynamic.
Their customer-base includes, among others, high-flyers in London who want a tasteful family home, but also people wanting to live the dream in Cornwall who are very proud of all things local. To do this, the guys aim to create a good working relationship with clients who want to make their living space beautiful.
James and Adam can help clients articulate their desires, and display their personalities with some amazing luxurious design touches. How? Well, basically, they take the time to get to know their customers, discover how they envisage their space and how they want to use it. As it says on the website: When you walk in to a good room, it should make you stop, say ‘wow’ and then dive in and use it like you own it. Because, hopefully, you do. You can only achieve that if you work closely with your client to get it just right for them.
They are working hard maintaining production here in the SW. Their roots remain firmly here, where they are investing money back into the local economy.
Adam says: “We design for private clients, which we really want to develop, but we also do business-to-business work with architects and building contractors, where we may design rooms, whole homes or groups of buildings. Some London architects come with a design package which we will adapt and develop/fit. Certainly, we are high-end and we make no apologies for it. Our work is all beautifully hand-crafted in our Devon workshop, providing employment here in the SW. We are immensely proud local lads with an entrepreneurial spirit aiming-high, which is great for Bude. Over time, we want to make a difference and hope people respect the fact that we have a presence here mainly because we love it. We want to be a part of the community and to have a big important business here, where we are bridging the divide between the SW and the City”.
It shows that with good communications, we can work from anywhere, so Adam loves heading-up their Bude studio. “What we are doing shows that if people want to succeed and have a good work ethic then it can happen. It’s a case of business sense combined with common sense and a strong work-ethic for forging opportunities. We very much want to work with people within the SW, locally, nationally and internationally, providing high-quality Cornish-British design. Take a look at their work and see the calibre for yourself.
He adds: “For the last year I’ve been travelling to Barnstaple for work, so it is amazing being back in Bude. Creativity and well-being come hand in hand, so this is the ideal place for me, back where I belong. I like going to the lock gates at lunchtime for some chillout time, and I go for a run after work or meet the family to go to the beach. It’s an amazing place to live and work. Being Cornish informs my attitude and my work – and most certainly my creativity”.
Meanwhile, wow, was I excited to have a chance to walk up that orange staircase?
Big thanks from Bude & Beyond to Yeo Design for sponsoring our community website.