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Meet the team: Fleur Fowler, Unilin Panels

Commuting from her hometown of Wokingham to Clerkenwell, Fleur enjoys the buzz of the city and visiting architects as part of her A & D Advisor role with Unilin Panels.

Fleur image

You’re a relatively new member of the UNILIN Panels team; what have been your highlights so far, and what do you especially enjoyed in your new role?

The standout highlight has been joining a collaborative and happy team. We work closely together, despite having very different responsibilities. One of the team secures appointments, I work on the specification, and another communicates with interior builders to fulfil the order. Our other colleague works in the North. It’s a pretty smooth process that’s definitely helping to get the Unilin Panels name out there. I also receive a lot of support from our Belgium team, including Roos, our boss, who is always there to listen, encourage and support.  

What does your role as A+D Advisor entail, and what makes up your typical day?

My standard day consists of meetings with existing and new designers, architects and specifiers. I’ll work closely with FF&E designers and often use lunch & learn sessions to introduce Unilin. Coming from an interior design background, I can suggest scheme ideas and how they can achieve the look and feel they’re after. Customers are often unaware that Unilin Panels not only make decorative panels but also furniture finishes too.

How, and why, did you get into a career within the interiors industry?

The why is simple. A genuine love for all things design. I started out by self-learning before taking qualifications in interior design. I’ve previously designed commercial and residential spaces, including a café and a Manor house, so I understand the challenges faced by interior designers when planning a project. The first project I worked on was a commercial specification for a kitchen design company. It was a breakout area, which, at that time, was a particularly unusual concept. I decided to give the project a coastal theme with the finished project resembling a beach. 

I think one of the biggest challenges interior designers face today is balancing their innovative ideas with budget constraints. I can often suggest solutions that mean they don’t have to compromise on an innovative concept to save money. An example was a recent hotel project. Instead of having normal coloured wardrobes it was suggested they opt for our Weave finish for the wardrobe interiors which gave it a rich opulent and tailor-made feel. The cost was the same as choosing an exterior matching finish but allowed the designer to add a unique touch.

What do you particularly love about this sector?

It’s unique, and it’s always different. This constantly evolving sector is one of the reasons I love working within a super creative market. I love that the sector can challenge us into thinking of concepts outside the box that start meaningful conversations about the future of design.

You have an extensive and impressive history within the A+D sector, what does it take to succeed within the industry?

Don’t come into the sector unless you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and truly immerse yourself into the design community. You’ll need to be able to think outside of the box, but you’ll also need a thick skin that can help withstand rejection while having the resilience to bounce back. You also must be patient as the industry can have very long lead times, and projects can take months or even years to complete. You’ll also need a good network of people to draw on when needed. Most importantly, have a passion for it, it’s not necessarily all about qualifications.

What’s your favourite product from the Unilin Panels collection, and why?

The decorative MDF range because it provides a unique solution for a wide variety of settings. I also love the colour palette as it provides a spectrum of tones, from pastels to brights.

When you’re not meeting visitors at The Gallery Clerkenwell, how do you spend your leisure time?

I’m just finishing renovating our house, which has been a true labour of love. It’s a 1860s house and garden that required extensive renovation. One of the biggest challenges was not having a kitchen so having to wash up in the garden. While the practicality of juggling a full-time job with renovation has been testing, it’s been satisfying to incorporate some of the old features back into the property, such as picture rails, coving and ceiling roses. I’ve been able to add my own creative touch with colours including a black dining room with a tropical twist. We’ve pretty much finished the interior, so now I’m turning my attention to creating the ultimate entertainment garden. Watch this space!

The industry is constantly evolving, but what would you say are the challenges you face today?

I’ve noticed that practices can change really quickly with people taking on new roles and responsibilities. That’s one of the reasons I like to try and see as many people as possible in each practice. Sometimes it can be quite difficult getting appointments as many are working from home, especially post Covid. I think it’s a great way of working but it does mean that I have to accommodate different work patterns. 

Have you noticed any particular trends this year?

There’s definitely a revival in pastel colours, and I’m loving it! It’s been great to see a huge demand from designers for our Decorative MDF and Master Oak collections. Like many in the industry I’m passionate about sustainability, and as Unilin has a proven environmental ethos it does help secure appointments in practices.

What will be next for you and Unilin Panels?

Well it’s only been eight months since I joined the team, so basically I’ll be focusing on seeing more people and converting conversations into projects.

Unilin Panels

Unilin Panels makes decorative surface panels that use the newest techniques and draw inspiration from nature, fashion and architecture to create the timeless designs of the Decorative Range collection.

For The Gallery, the company has hand-picked decors from its Decorative Range collection. Bringing a selection of decors proven to deliver and inspire beautiful commercial, retail and hospitality interiors. Available in melamine-faced panels, HPL and edging tape, the decors available at The Gallery make choosing your new surface an enjoyable and stress-free experience.

Part of the Unilin Group established in the 1960s, Unilin Panels is deeply rooted in the Belgian landscape. Using 95% recycled wood in the production of chipboard, Unilin Panels is a pioneer in the circular economy.

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IVC Commercial

IVC Commercial is the world’s fastest growing flooring solutions manufacturer. Designing and making its floors in Belgium, IVC Commercial has the most advanced manufacturing in Europe, bringing carpet tiles, LVT and heterogeneous vinyl floors that improve productivity and wellbeing.

Part of the world’s largest flooring company, IVC Commercial makes products that are 100% recyclable using energy it generates itself. Working to develop a circular future, the company puts people at the heart of everything it does, working to bring you affordable floors that make a difference through design and performance.

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Framery are the world’s best selling pods and office phone booths. Every detail of every product is carefully considered and perfected to ensure it contributes to our customer’s happiness, from usability and acoustics to aesthetics and sustainability.

Products including pods, phone booths and soundproof private spaces solve noise and privacy issues in open offices, making employees happier and more productive in dozens of the world’s leading companies, including Microsoft, Puma and Tesla. In fact, 70% of all Forbes 100 companies use Framery.

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Hawk Furniture

Established in the 1980s, Hawk manufactures office furniture and has a reputation for sustainable and affordable products. Using innovative techniques and modern manufacturing methods, Hawk pushes the boundaries for workplace design – all made in Yorkshire. 99% of products are manufactured in house by solar-powered factories and all waste board is used to heat the powder-coating ovens, so you can be confident that you are buying some of the most environmentally-friendly furniture in the UK.

With dozens of ranges and thousands of products, The Gallery showcases just a small selection of Hawk’s most interesting products. From breakout areas to benches, planters to receptions, Hawk gives you the power to transform your workspace into a vibrant hub of creativity.

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Designer Doorware

Since 1996, Designer Doorware has been dedicated to crafting high-quality, innovative architectural hardware that marries form and function. Our collections exemplify innovation and sophistication, elevating interior spaces. We take pride in offering high-quality products that cater to the discerning needs of our esteemed clientele. With a commitment to craftsmanship and personalisation, our team collaborates closely with architects and designers to bring their unique visions to life, creating contemporary architectural hardware that endures, making every project functional and timeless.

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