I was lucky enough to get invited to the opening of https://www.vitsoe.com/gbVitsœ’s new warehouse and manufacturing facility in Royal Leamington Spa and it was a real eye-opener as to how manufacturing can be done.
Vitsœ manufactures and sells three iconic designs by the German designer Dieter Rams. Their main product is a well thought-out modular shelving system which was designed in 1958.
The building follows a similar modular design, or at least it certainly feels like it does. It is constructed of a new beech laminate-veneer lumber which reflects the wood they use in their products. Owing to these factors, Vitsœ are able to change the interior to fit around them and they have already moved an office from one side of the building to the other.
The building gets natural light from the traditional sawtooth roofing, with north facing windows and solar panels on the south-facing surfaces. When we were there in mid-October, no artificial light had been used in the building to date.
At one end of the building is a commercial kitchen and seating area for the staff. Every day, there is a compulsory 15 minute break in this area which everybody has to attend. At lunchtime, a chef prepares lunch for all of the employees.
As we were walking around the building, you got a real sense of the calm and quiet of the environment. Mark Adams, the owner of Vitsœ, showed us the noisy production area which had been built in to keep it separate from the rest of the premises.
Having been to various conferences, talks and exhibitions, the one thing I hear all the time is that there is a lack of graduate engineers. This seems to be the outcome of the UK failing to promote engineering in education for the last 30 years, along with other industries attracting the graduates.
Why is that? Is it the pay or the glamour of working in those other industries. Or is it the assumption that engineering is the opposite; the belief that you will work in a dirty, old fashioned workshop?
Vitsœ is showing how, with a bit of vision, you can create a manufacturing environment which I think would attract young engineers. By overhauling the dark and dingy conditions traditionally associated with engineering, they’ve taken a step towards helping the industry to shed a long-held stigma which inhibits its growth and expansion amongst newer generations.
Anyway, I now know how I want my new man cave/garage to be built. I just need to find the space for it.