December 23, 2020

2020 – Two steps forward, ten steps backwards.

It’s eight days to Christmas and we are looking back at what has been the most challenging year many of us experienced in our lifetime.

There were high expectations from the perfectly rounded 2020. There was the energy, there was hope for something spectacular to happen. And perhaps, we all wanted to make 2020 a memorable year. But instead, this year has challenged us all in so many different ways and became an epiphany of a perfectly terrible year.

At the time of writing, there are 15 days left of this rather unusual year. We all faced our own challenges, fears and restrictions and we all want this year to be over. We had to stop hugging, We had to refrain from seeing friends and family. We all experienced lose of freedom.

It’s been a two steps forward, ten steps back kind of year, but the show must go on as they say, and so we must keep persevering, hoping that one day we will return to the world we know.

So what has 2020 been all about? Here is a short summary of the most memorable work and moments from our life this year.

January

We’re starting January with high spirits, firing at all cylinders. Confident and capable, we are working alongside the best people in the industry, flexing our muscles. We are rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck into the mighty 1 Forge End project in Woking with Paul Earl, Hoare Lea and Watkins Payne. Lighting is pretty impressive on this project and we can’t wait to see the images of the completed scheme. At the same time, we work on an office refurbishment for Peabody Trust in south Essex. It’s a playful and colourful space with coffered slab ceilings, which we are very fond of at 299.

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February

Work is coming from all sides, we are going full steam ahead and there are some nice juicy projects on the horizon. There is the amazing Cally Yard  in London. With the industrial style Arno fittings against concrete ceilings and bold black services, it is one beautiful project which we can’t wait to showcase. And there is the Old Jewry Lane, an industrial style CAT A in the City of London, featured in our case studies. 

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“Cally Yard is probably the biggest project I’ve ever worked on design-wise. Not only does it stand out, but it required a high degree of compliance work with consultants over several phases including different buildings. It’s a relief now it’s over.”

Megan – Senior Lighting Designer

March

We are embarking on some new exciting work on Quadrant House, the first Co-space CAT B in Reading, featured in our recent case studies. And there is 25 Settles Street in Whitechapel, a stunning CAT A refurbishment and extension with Thirdway Contracts and Paul Earl which we will be showcasing very soon. We are signing a contract with NBS and embarking on a new journey of joining the prestigious network of RIBA- accredited CPD providers. It’s 2020 after all and we would like to achieve something spectacular.

For the first time, we are submitting entries for several awards and actually getting shortlisted! And most importantly, we are getting ourselves decent hair cuts, as we are off to the races! It was a great day out with our clients. We lost money and we won money. And it is at Cheltenham races when we hug people for the last time. We laugh and we dressed up. For the last time. 

We all know what happens next. There is no need to regurgitate the panic of the early covid days. Message after message saying that we are all doing ‘business as usual’. But in reality, we are all settling into our dinning rooms, living rooms, bedrooms and setting up what we think is a temporary place to work. 

April

Time has lost its meaning and days are blurring into a haze. With no childcare to speak off, we are juggling work and children. Luckily, the weather is being kind and we are starting to sort the garden in our new house. The team are working from home, baking, playing with cats, dogs, and doing some interesting embroidery.

By the end of the month, we are having to make tough decisions. James is steering the ship and soldiers in the office whilst I am staying at home with children, working two hours a day in the best case.

“There is an amazing amount of creativity and positive energy on the 299 WhatsApp group, with people keeping in touch and sharing their projects and achievements.”

James Pomphrey – Managing Director

May

Against all odds, May is the busiest month and we have plenty to get stuck into. We are working on several data centres in Ireland and finishing a data centre in Amsterdam. The office team is working hard to keep on top of all the work. We are starting to design the latest addition to Legal & General’s capsule style workspaces 20 Dering Street in Mayfair. The project looks beautiful and we featured it on our website.

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The marketing team is working their socks off aiming to submit the first two CPDs to RIBA. Our regular meetings are interrupted by children asking for ice cream. We even had a squashed dead mouse brought to the computer. 

The days at home are filled with gardening, walking and picking things off the floor. The broad beans are looking well and the onions are in. There is a shortage of seeds and we are having to wait for ages for the strawberry plants to arrive.

June

It’s almost impossible to get hold of any project images. So we are dusting off our archives and look for older projects that we never had time to feature. I am pleased to finally see nice projects like First Light Gym or the funky Hollis office in Manchester featured on the website. The team are working on 33 Cannon Street, a  nice coworking space in London. 

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First Light Gym
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Hollis Global, Manchester

Our garden is full of beautiful pink roses and the girls are obsessed with catching newts in the pond. Just in time for our 11th year in business, we get the best present ever! We have entered the ranks of the RIBA-accredited CPD providers. I brought a bottle of chilled champagne to the greenhouse to announce the news. The world is in a bit of mess, but we have achieved a seemingly impossible task! 

As each day passes, we are coming to realise that this working from home thing is not going away. So Josh is setting up his home office, ready to start running his regular broadcast. His fancy huge microphone is a talking point of every CPD. But the sound is spot on and that’s what matters.

July

The first harvest is here. There’s broad beans, courgettes, spring onions and salad. Our mornings are filled with endless blackberry foraging. 

Children are interrupting meetings with blue food colouring on their faces. I am counting the days before they can go back to nursery. Things are picking up and we are fortunate to work on some nice projects again. There is 43 Eagle Street in London, which we are particularly excited about, there is a cool CCOMM demo room in St. Albans with some fantastic feature lighting, just to name a few nice projects we have in the kitty.

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August

The children are finally in nursery! It’s two days a week, but it feels like I can breath again. We are focusing on our third CPD and decide to shake things up a bit. Being ballsy and a bit stubborn, we take a very dry and serious subject that is Emergency lighting and turn it into something fun, unique and engaging. It’s a risky strategy, but as soon as we submitted the material, RIBA gave us very positive feedback. At the same time, we are starting the long process of launching our entire product range on NBS Source, which is a new cloud based specification platform. The whole team is giving the marketing team a hand, this mission is taking up a lot of internal resources, but we are determined to make it a success.

The project team are working on some good projects, bringing the Hyperoptics project home, alongside the Hatton Place on Farringdon road. 

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September

With the childcare resuming now, life is a lot easier again. Two of our team are receiving their LIA certifications, which is a bit of positive news that everyone needs right now. We came very close to winning the Bristol Property Awards and received a Highly commanded from the judges. And we are finally launching our 3rd CPD seminar this year! The “Whodunit?” CPD is immediately booked out and attended by the industry greatest and most senior people. The CPD is very well received and continues to be a success through the rest of the year.

October

We are now ISO: 19400 certified. To celebrate this milestone, we decided to plant 100 trees in Charlotte’s Wood, a beautiful woodland that is local to us. We hope to get involved next year when things hopefully get back to some sort of normal.

We dress in yellow to support World Mental day. Our product visualiser takes a funky approach to wearing yellow with juggling several lemons and we support the charity and raise some money for young peoples mental health awareness.

It’s the BCO South of England Awards. Three of our projects have been shortlisted for our largest project in Bristol to date. Eagle House wins the BCO awards and we feel like we are finally getting some recognition for the hard work we do.

November

There is more date centre work. Other than that, we are signing a lot of paperwork…

December

There won’t be any office Christmas tree this year and there wont be an office Christmas party in a nice restaurant. We are doing things differently. Launching a new range of architectural downlighters, the Unsung Heroes, we have decided to support a local charity – Family Food 4 Free, and help people who need it most this year.

Just in time for Christmas, we receive the best present ever. We are now holding the keys of our new 7,000 sq. ft commercial property in Bristol! And we are going to put our mark on it. Watch this space, this is a very exciting new chapter at 299.

There is no getting away from it. It’s been a hell of a year for us at 299, but we used the time wisely and achieved more than we thought was possible.

We worked hard, because resilience is in our DNA, founded at the dawn of the last recession in 2009, we are good at surviving. We all wholeheartedly want to believe, that 2021 can only be better. We want to believe, that the team can get back together and recharge on the ‘togetherness’, sharing a moment together in real time, bouncing ideas off each other.

1285 projects

Working on 1285 projects, this has surprisingly been one of the best years we’ve had!

100 trees planted

And hopefully we can visit them in 2021…

3 CPD's

We are so exited to have achieved 3 CPDs accredited by RIBA

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Although its been a tough year, we are determined to make 2021 even better.

Do you have an commercial project lined up for next year? Get in touch with our team and we will assist every step of the way.

Although its been a tough year, we are determined to make 2021 even better.

Do you have an commercial project lined up for next year? Get in touch with our team and we will assist every step of the way.

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