Meet the Showroom: Robert Langford
Much is made of the incredible range of products on offer at the Design Centre – but just as important is the customer service that underpins every success. Robert Langford, founded by Robert Knapp (pictured above right) in 2004, puts service front and centre: starting with just eight headboard designs, the business has grown to include sofas and chairs, beds, mattresses and cabinetry, with some items in stock, ready to take away – a boon to time-pressed designers. Here, Knapp explains more about the new showroom at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, the British manufacturing success story behind the designs, and how he’s planning to improve lead-times even more with the latest collection.
What should we expect from the showroom?
The intention is to have an ever-changing display. with three to four themes a year. We have started with a look inspired by the South of France, put together for us by Anna Standish interior Design, a longstanding client and good friend of the company.
Why should customers visit in person as opposed to looking/buying online?
When you are investing in a piece of furniture it is so important to be able to come and sit on the item, understand how it can be personalised to suit your project, and also get an idea of the overall quality of the products on offer. It’s also nice to put a face to the company: it makes things so much more personal.
What’s your brand’s design philosophy?
Our products are easy to use across a broad spectrum of projects, beautifully made and realistically priced. We believe that anyone can make a chair, but it’s the service levels, both during and after the sale is made, that build trust with the customer. Our service is unmatched in the industry, in my humble opinion.
Is there a ‘hero’ product that you feel sums up your brand, or that’s been a long-standing bestseller?
I was known as the king of the headboard – that’s how the business started. But now, our top selling product range is our bedside table collection, made in Europe and stocked for immediate delivery. Our British-made upholstery collection is also an industry favourite because we can offer decent turnaround times and comfortable items.
What can we expect from the latest collections?
We launched our Magnificent Seven at Focus/22 – the seven most popular designs of British-made upholstery, updated and with supporting stock of frames, allowing us to greatly improve lead times and therefore make our design customers’ lives easier.
How and where are your products are made? What craftsmanship goes into them?
Our upholstery is all made in the UK. The beds, headboards and loads of the upholstered stools are made by a small, craft-driven workshop in Essex run by two brothers, who I met in 2005. They are more like family members than suppliers and we have helped each other through all the highs and lows that any business faces. Our chairs and sofas are all made in the Midlands, by a small factory that works mostly for us. We have worked together for over 12 years now and I just love working alongside them as they are honest, have an amazing attention to detail and share our philosophy that nothing is ever too much of a problem, everything can be solved.
Is there anything else you’d like the Design Centre’s community to know about your brand?
We exist to make designers lives easier, that is our mantra. From our British-made upholstery, which can be made to the customers’ own specification to our amazing UK-made mattress collection (a bit of an industry secret) and of course, over 300 pieces of stock, available for immediate delivery, making it possible to pop in and furnish an entire house in minutes. We are proud to be trusted by the world’s best designers.