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. Rap Interiors were commissioned to create a collection of spaces in a newly built barn for the expanding business of Blends for Friends, Frövi was excited and pleased to be involved. Rap Interiors met Alex Probyn, the Blends for Friends Managing Director, at an 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. Within the new two-storey barn, Blends for Friends required the Rap Interiors design and build team to use all their expertise to create the following new spaces
The remit was to create a hospitable cafe that could offer catering for staff and buyers, providing a large seating area and serving counter / kitchen. In order to make the cafe aesthetically unique – the seating area design contained a range of stunning Frovi furniture, including Block Steel Rustic benches, ILK low and high armchairs, ILK two-seater oak framed sofas and solid oak coffee tables. These, along with the bespoke tea chest stools, were specifically chosen to complement the barn’s rustic features, such as the striking timber beams that pervade the building. The design for the serving area would also be key in achieving Blends for Friends 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, fridges, cabinets, two sinks and splashbacks were incorporated into the serving area design.
Tea Blending Room
With the intention of using the blending room 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 the design was the bespoke ‘wall of tea’ that showcased just some of the 25,000 ingredients used by Blends for Friends. Behind this, a blackboard was included so that staff could note the ingredient in use. 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 people to stand and speak to visiting groups. The table design also included a bespoke support made out of tea crates, and surrounding Frovi Zero Upholstered high stools for the visiting guests.
Office and Conference Room
In order to accommodate their growing team, Blends for Friends required additional office space on the ground floor. For this, the 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 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.