Seven Stories

Sector: Education
Location: Newcastle
Scope of Works: Furniture Supply & Installation

The Client:
Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children’s Books, founded as a charity in 1996. Seven Stories select original artwork and manuscripts – from first scribbles to finished books – to create innovative exhibitions and popular events. In 2010 they received the prestigious Eleanor Farjeon Award, in recognition of their Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature. National status was awarded at the end of 2012 through Arts Council England’s accreditation scheme recognising excellence in caring for literary heritage and engaging visitors in children’s literature through the quality of exhibitions, events and learning programmes.

The Brief:
To coincide with their 10th anniversary, Seven Stories received the required investment to allow them to carry out major refurbishment work to their building. The refurbishment aimed to improve efficiency, flexibility and design, and to make the experience “even more magical for children of all ages” and included new furniture to all floors. Ben Johnson successfully tendered for the supply, delivery and installation of furniture solutions to meet the required brief.

The Challenges:
Whilst in a challenging space, the café area was carefully designed to feel ‘contemporary’. It was important that the layout maximised the number of covers through a variety of tables and chairs, whilst accommodating the mixture of visitor groups and significant number of pushchair and high chair users. All furniture supplied had to match in with the company’s brand colours. Bespoke furniture had to be supplied to meet parts of the brief and budget.

The Solution:
Ben Johnson proposed practical robust furniture for the café which will endure heavy usage, appealing to both adults and children alike. Our design team worked alongside the client to create space plans for the various levels helping them to visualise the space available within the boundaries of the challenging building and user requirements. Ben Johnson designed a number of cost effective bespoke joinery items such as, the “pocket money” display unit for use within the bookshop and the “make and do” tables with removable containers for messy activity work in the Creative Station. Guidance on design was provided throughout the process, introducing alternative furniture solutions such as block steel RAL coloured bench seating. This provided wider colour choice and ensured best match with the Seven Stories company branding. Ben Johnson were delighted to work with Seven Stories on such a unique and exciting project. Furniture was delivered withing budget and on time for the scheduled re-opening of the facility.

Ben Johnson’s team immediately grasped our vision for the refurbishment of our unique and child-orientated museum, contributing to design concepts, proposing imaginative solutions and sourcing distinctive designs that combine functionality with flare. The team were professional, creative and timely. They understood the limits of our budget and offered cost effective solutions. We are delighted with the service provided and the products supplied – their quality, design and function and this has already been endorsed by feedback from the thousands of families who visit us.

Kate Edwards - Chief Executive, Seven Stories
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