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New practice: Alexander Owen Architecture

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The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at those who have recently decided to go it alone

Main people Richard (Alexander) Bridges and James (Owen) Webster
Based South-east London
Founded 2014

Where have you come from?
Having studied for our degrees and worked at Norman Foster together, we went to smaller design studios across London in order to work more closely with clients and end-users. Since then we have both been working independently, but last year we decided to merge.

What work do you have?
Primarily we work in the domestic market, designing extensions and refurbishments for homeowners, which is really rewarding.

When the right projects arise, we work in the commercial sector. We really enjoy working closely with businesses to create branded environments and brand experiences, and we would like to do more of this in the future.

What are your ambitions?
For the foreseeable future we want to sustain an organic growth, focusing on the quality of our projects. Ultimately we hope the quality of our work will attract clients who want bespoke, creative solutions.

What are the biggest challenges as a start-up?
Primarily working with domestic clients can be a challenge. Constantly generating new leads is critical as there is rarely repeat business with homeowners.

Another challenge is that not all clients are creatively minded so there is often a great void between those who see the value in design and those that don’t. We wholeheartedly believe that great design enhances daily life and so no matter the size or budget, we see it as our job to illuminate and reveal the benefits of creative design for our clients. 

How did you win your first significant job?
It was simply a mixture of networking hard for new leads while providing the best possible service on the jobs we had, no matter how modest.  Word of mouth has been a powerful tool for us, which is why focusing on quality is so critical.  You never know who somebody knows.

What is your approach to winning new clients?
Being down-to-earth and candid, because beyond approachability and knowledge, ultimately all clients want is trust and value. We simply try to understand what value means to each client, be it cost, speed, or creativity, and then ensure we put that and the client at the heart of the design process.



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