An Interview with Bisley & Acrylicize

At Clerkenwell Design Week we caught up with Jade Surtees of Bisley Furniture and James Burke of Acrylicize to discuss their collaboration of a fountain in St. Johns Square made out of Bisley filing cabinets.



So guys, can tell us a little bit about what Bisley have been up during Clerkenwell?

(JS) This is our first year exhibiting at Clerkenwell, and we did a collaboration with Acrylicize, and a fountain company. We wanted to do something with a playful spin, and the involving needs of storage. We wanted to do something that would be in-keeping with exhibiting in a square. So with Acrylicize we came up with the idea of a fountain, something quite traditional, and it was a bit of a playful spin on the Best of British. The idea of the multi drawers is we’re quite soon coming up to its 60th Birthday so we wanted to develop on that idea and look at how the needs of the iconic Bisley Multi Draw have evolved over the last 60 years.

Can you to tell us a little bit about the collaboration?

(JB) So we were introduced to Bisley by a mutual friend, and we were really excited to collaborate and create something for Clerkenwell, where there is so many exciting things going on. At Acrylicize we are really interested in using everyday items, material and objects and presenting them in a new light and changing the context of them for the viewer. So for this project, given the location of a public square we wanted to created something that played on the location, and fountain made of Bisley cabinets seemed the perfect fit.

Through speaking to Bisley and understanding who they are and what they do, one of the things that can up was the fact that the use of their storage is constantly changing, and showed that it’s not about filing papers, the world has moved on and things are more digital. Want to create a narrative of the possible uses of a filing cabinet.

And how has it been working as part of a collaboration? 

(JS) It was fantastic; they were a really brilliant company to work with. They captured the Bisley brand very well and it was lovely because their design team worked very closely with our internal design team down in Newport and our team of engineers. They were very forward thinking, in us wanting to do something quite creative and unconventional. They captured it and really worked with us, and then the fountain company technically made it possible. It was a really good collaboration.

James, can you tell us a little bit about Acrylicize?

(JB) Acrylicize started as part of my art degree, I studied in Manchester. I was interested in the public perception of art and making art accessible, at the end of my degree I felt I had not finished this project and continued it on, and here we are now as Acrylicize.

In an office environment I think everyone is striving for identity, and ways to differentiate themselves and really express themselves and art is really a good way of doing that it’s fun, its expressive and its different. so that is where Acrylicize come in.

So moving away from Clerkenwell, how have you noticed your products change and how do you think they are going to develop further?

(JS) Since being at Bisley, I’ve seen products change within the Office environment dramatically. Obviously as a storage company, we’ve expanded within the Industry purely for that reason. It’s very much changed into more of a form of freedom within the Office Space. The change within personal storage requirements has been dramatic. I think the difference between the actual office space and moving into more collaborative spaces and how you can bring a team together. And I think it’s changed with the way people work, the design of the office space creates a sense of an environment at work, you’re not so much pigeon held to your desk anymore. Big change.


The BCFA has just launched its first Contract Exhibition can you share your thoughts on Manchester as a Design Hub?

(JB) I studied at Manchester, and was involved with the music scene too, Manchester has an amazing heritage of music and a whole scene of art and fashion. It’s a Vibrant place, good heritage. It’s a smaller city than London, everything is more contained, with more intimate vibes.

(JS) Manchester for me, because I look after A&D throughout the UK and have visited a number of design practises up there, and I think Manchester’s definitely changing, it’s on the up, it’s an evolving city, and I think that there is a lot of creativity moving away from London, and I think Manchester’s becoming more of a design hub, and design cultured.




About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
View all posts by Alys Bryan →