BCFA Open Panel Discussions

On the 26th & 27th October the BCFA will host the first BCFA Open, a contract furniture and furnishings exhibition in October at the iconic Bridgewater Hall in central Manchester.

BCFA Open visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy two discussions panels which will delve into the topics of the Northern Powerhouse and product life. Panellists will include Gresham Gavin Phillips, SpaceInvader Director Gavin King and Knightsbridge Director of Design & Development Jason Brown as well as Panaz Limited Group Chief Executive Tony Attard OBE, Roman Limited Commercial Director Julian Pearson and FX Editorial Director Theresa Dowling.

Built to Last – Wednesday 26th October 5:00 – 5:45

BCFA Managing Director Jeremy Stein will chair a conversation which asks our panel of experts to consider the question: Just how realistic is it for the industry to always make products to last?

Gavin Phillips has over 16 years’ experience of the workplace furniture industry and is now working with Gresham Office Furniture. Gavin is a self-proclaimed furniture design geek and will use his vast industry knowledge to discuss the complex intricacies of product life.

Gavin-Phillips-web‘Designing and manufacturing products that stand the test of time is perhaps not as easy as you think – do you sacrifice aesthetics for lifespan or vice versa? In a public environment durability is key, but as the lines between domestic and commercial interiors blur, we have to be increasingly clever about balancing function with fashion.’  Gavin Phillips



Gavin King has been a Director at SpaceInvaders since 2013 and has now accrued over 25 years experience of designing inspirational commercial environments. Gavin continues to hone his expertise in strategic workplace consultancy and leads project teams on long-term briefs, it in this specialism which enables Gavin to speak passionately about the role of product longevity in interior design.

Jason Brown is Director of Design and Development at Knightsbridge Furniture. He has been making, designing and developing furniture in the contract market for 33 years. Trained traditionally as a cabinet maker then a draughtsman before moving into research and development and the management ladder and is enjoying his 5th year as head of design and development with Knightsbridge although he has a combined service of 20 years with the Bradford based manufacturer.

For further information on this topic you can read our recent article Built to Last here.

Powering the North – Thursday 27th October 12:15 – 1:00

Jim Pendrill is an award-winning business journalist who has spent more than 20 years in the media industry building expertise in regional economic development, corporate finance, inward investment and commercial property. Jim will chair a conversation which asks: What does the future hold for the Northern Powerhouse?

Tony Attard is the founder and Group Chief Executive of Lancashire-based Panaz Limited. Tony is a Freeman of the City of London, sits on the Board of Creative Lancashire, NWTexnet, and the BCFA. Tony is a past IoD Lancashire Director of the Year and former Chair for IoD North West region and is current Chair of a new start up called Alusid and Chair of Marketing Lancashire. Tony was made an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen in the 2010 New Year’s honours. Tony’s extensive credentials position him perfectly to discuss the topic of the Northern Powerhouse.

‘For some time now London and the South East has attracted a disproportionate amount of Government infrastructure spend and as a consequence overseas inward investment into the UK. This has created marginalisation in important regional hubs such as Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. This marginalisation has also impacted on the GVA and earnings potential of people in these areas. This is unsustainable. George Osborn’s initiative to increase infrastructure spending on transport links and devolve key investment decisions to these regions is an essential opportunity to drive prosperity outside of the south east.’  Tony Attard

Julian Pearson has been Commercial Director at Roman Limited, based in County Durham, since August 2004. Julian has a wealth of experience with 30 years working in the industry and employs a multifaceted approach to product design encompassing innovation, product and project development.

Theresa Dowling has been editor of FX Magazine for almost 10 years before when she was a graphic designer (and journalist) to the contract industry.  FX has just celebrated 25 years in our industry, celebrating all that’s great in contract design  across all sectors; so hotels, offices, health, education and civic.

Theresa-Dowling‘What is the north / south divide for business when global trading is now worldwide? Not sure that Manchester is at a disadvantage to London when negotiating contracts with Europe, China or Asia clients? For UK business, key architecture and design practices have offices in both London and Manchester. Do suppliers have the same presence in London and Manchester?’  Theresa Dowling


Gavin Phillips has over 16 years’ experience of the workplace furniture industry with his current role working exclusively for Bolton based Gresham to launch their new Gresham Design Collection.

For further information on this topic you can read our recent article Powering the North here.

We look forward to welcoming you to our panel discussions where there will be the opportunity for audience questions at the end of each discussion. You can register for BCFA Open here as well as discover our full event program which includes our evening reception, CPD presentations, graffiti wall and full exhibitor details.



About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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