South East Business reveals sustainable solution for Discovery Park tenant
Posted on 19/08/16
This is an excerpt from a feature in August/September’s edition of South East Business magazine which focusses on future Discovery Park tenant, Flute Office, which has an ideal solution for what to do with business waste - turn it into office furniture.
Imagine a world in which your business waste could be recycled indefinitely into office items like desks and storage units - which can themselves be given a new life when you no longer need them.
You know when you look at yourself in a series of mirrors and see an infinite row of “selfies” rolling out in front of you, seemingly forever?
That’s the sort of perpetuating business profile Rod Fountain would like to create for Flute.
Rod, a former business journalist, is eager to promote his company’s image as a sustainable “circular economy”. It’s a model which is constantly evolving and revolving, as its customers demand more.
Flute grew out of high-end office furniture business set up in Hampshire by Mary Dorrington Ward in 2002 in which she sold products by the German company, Vitra. Rod had met Mary in 2000, an era when, as he explains “companies had lots of money to spend”.
They worked the business together until about 2007, when they started being asked by their blue chip customers about the sustainability credentials of furniture.
Rod explained: “We began to check this out and found no design company which could supply such details. We should the business the following year and began to research suppliers of sustainable office furniture, but couldn’t find anyone in the UK, US, northern Europe or the Far East.
“Having spotted a niche in the market, we began to spend time with design agencies, looking at how to take recycled materials and turn them into a product that people would want to buy. Eight years and quite a lot of money, research and development later, we think we have the answer.”
As co-founder and CEO of Flute - which as a design and research department in West Sussex and is shortly to move into a production unit on Discovery Park, Sandwich - Rod is delighted at the success of the company and has great ambitions for its development.
“I want us to become a centre of excellence in the UK for the upcycling of low value waste, then for us to licence the idea to markets all over the world,” he says somewhat grandly, adding quickly: “I know we have to get it right here first, though.”