Based in Kemsing, Sevenoaks, Blends for Friends create bespoke tea recipes for a range of clients, from hotel owners to individuals looking for the perfect gift.
We met Alex Probyn, the Blends for Friends Managing Director, at an IOD (Institute of Directors) event in 2016, where he revealed the fascinating story behind the company. After accepting a dare from university friends to get a job drinking tea – something Alex hated – he would go on to become a master blender at Tetley, before branching out and starting his own company.
The Blends for Friends Cafe - 3D Design and Final Project Picture
The design for the serving area would also be key in achieving our client’s aesthetic remit, with the copper-top counter, blackboard menu and hanging pendant lights making for an eye-catching focal point as you enter the café.
For catering and hygiene purposes, we also incorporated fridges, cabinets, two sinks and splashbacks into our serving area design. During the build, these elements would require us to work closely with electricians and plumbers to ensure a successful, safe-for-work implementation.
Tea Blending Room
With the intention of using the blending room (aka the ‘Blendatorium’) for group tea tasting events and client collaboration, the space needed to be both practical and visually impressive. Taking this into account, a key element of our design was the bespoke ‘wall of tea’ that showcased just some of the 25000 ingredients used by Blends for Friends. Behind this, our office designers included a blackboard so that staff could note the ingredient in use.
The Blends for Friends Blendatorium - 3D Design and Final Project Picture
Another key aspect of the blending room design was the large conference style table, which included a bespoke lowering flap. With the flap down, this would transform the table into a counter to allow the managing director to stand and speak to visiting groups. The table design also included a bespoke support made out of tea crates, and surrounding Frovi high stools for the visiting guests.
Like the aforementioned café, Rap also fitted cabinets, splashbacks and a sink in the Blendatorium, which required us to build around the intrusive timber beams.
In order to accommodate their growing team, our client required an additional office space on the ground floor. For this, our office space design included shared desks to facilitate an open plan layout, and large communal cabinets to break the area up into departments. We also introduced additional sofas and a coffee table by Frovi for ad-hoc meetings and collaborative working.
The Blends for Friends Office - 3D Design and Final Project Picture
On the first floor, we supplied Ocee kite tables for the requested boardroom. The flexible, flip top design would allow the team to fold the table away, providing more space when required.
The Final Design
Blends for Friends now has a truly remarkable workspace that will enable them to move forward as a company.
As per their design brief, the workspace now includes a hospitable café where staff and buyers can eat, converse and re-energise; a stunning blending room that offers the ideal environment to invent new recipes and build relationships with clients; and an inspirational office/conference area that promotes productivity.
We are delighted to have been chosen to work on this project, and wish Alex and the team all the best for what will undoubtedly be a successful future.
Our hope was to have a building where employees did not feel tied to one particular desk. Instead, we wanted them to feel quite transient within the two parts of the building; so the café, Blendatorium and various meeting rooms. We also wanted it to be an environment that gave the impression of a good amount of space.
Has the new workplace environment improved your day-today working practices?
Yes, absolutely. One of the key things I wanted to get out of the new building was to encourage more interaction between the two parts of the business, i.e. the production staff and everyone else. We had been running with two sites and the business needed to come back together. There people who were in certain parts of the business who hadn’t even met each other. So we wanted there to be a hub where people could interact and meet with other people.
The key areas were the café, being a very open hub for the business in the centre of the building, and the Blendatorium. The Blendatorium is an area which I knew would be used every single day and at all times by a multitude of people. That’s been a very active space for training, meetings, tastings, blendings and creativity.
Do you think the new workspace environment has helped you to move forward as a company?
Yes, definitely, it’s been amazing. We’re blessed with a good building anyway but it just needed the fit out.
Has Rap fulfilled your expectations?
Would you recommend Rap to other businesses?
Yes I would; we’re very happy with the whole thing. We got the space we wanted in the end, and it is everything we had envisaged.
What an exciting project we were lucky enough to work on. I’ve told everyone from here to London about Alex and his company. Who knew black tea wasn’t as good for you as we are led to believe? It’s just tea leaves turned brown! The project was very different for Rap, and we were able to carry the brand of Blends from the office to a commercial area to a VIP public area. Working with the concept of the beautiful barn allowed us to mix modern, traditional and operational space to bring the wow factor. The copper counter did it for me! Thanks Alex for choosing Rap.
Julie Anderson Design Director, Rap Interiors
If you feel that it’s time to re-think your office space design, then Rap Interiors can help! With almost three decades of experience, we can advise you on the best interior solutions to take your business to the next level.