Chatting with Lloyd Carrington
I met Lloyd Carrington of Cayeco in 2018 where I initially was fascinated about the beautiful finishes he had on his stand at 100% Design. After a detailed conversation, I knew that we had to bring him in for our January Brunch Event. We kicked off with full gusto, lots of news being exchanged….and quite a few coffees to warm up.
Some of you may be interested to know that Lloyd was a helicopter pilot in a former life, however having trained in engineering, he was keen to push his abilities and began exploring new opportunities 3 years ago.
How did Cayeco come about and how long ago?
It started with an idea……3 years ago at 100% Design, I exhibited a selection of my hand carved shower trays from solid hardwood. I wanted to see if there was enough interest from the public and designers to start making an alternative to the traditional shower tray of plastic and metal etc. and the wetroom shower floor, usually made from stone, marble and tile. I received a lot of interest but one architect said ‘ I love your shower trays but the drain grate in the middle detracts from the beautiful wood and finish. Could you not make them so the drain was not visible?’. Now, that drain grate in the middle, had a custom design of a tree, very nice, and was plated with gold. What’s not to like?
Then things got complicated…..
I took the architect’s comments on board and started sketching a possible solution. A two-part shower floor would be required to achieve this; a permanent shower base with the drain located and removable top panel for the veneer or hardwood to be applied. Back at the workshop I set to – I made a base from plywood with drain slopes towards the drain position. I also constructed perimeter upstands from black walnut, and then finished with a special resin to protect the wood from water.
The top panel was made from solid maple and sycamore with a chequerboard design. Small feet fitted to the underside, separate it from the base. This top panel presented a small 5mm gap around the perimeter for the water to disperse to the base below. Bingo! As a result, I cracked the design, but not quite. The hardwood panel was fairly thick to stop it bending when stood upon and heavy. I tried various ways to reduce the weight and thickness including using glass fibre and finally carbon fibre. The carbon fibre was not only super stiff and lightweight compared to the wood, however, it meant I could apply any suitable decorative finish to the surface. We are on to something here I thought, so quickly submitted the design to UK Intellectual Property (In other words, patenting to you and me).
Three years on and after much testing, tweaking and improving and another trip to 100% design last year, we consequently saw the public launch of cayeco®. cayeco® is a brand of my company Carrington Projects Limited formed in 1996. The name ‘cayeco®’ is derived from caye – meaning a small, low-elevation, sandy island on the surface of a coral reef and co – which refers to composite. I’m hoping that ‘cayeco – a low elevation composite island’ may make it into the dictionary one day.
Who forms part of your team?
At the moment there is me doing the designing and the making. Shelagh who keeps me in touch with the world outside of the workshop, and Andy who takes my designs and ramblings and translates it into a website.
What do you think the history books will say about this innovative shower tray that you have designed?
Probably something cheesy like ‘A platform for success’
Who or what are your biggest inspirations or influences?
A very active mind, annoyingly so at times and a desire to be different.
How has the community of Interior designers influenced you within your own home?
Funny enough, I don’t think I am very design-creative, technically yes but making an environment work takes me ages and I am quite envious of designers who have that ability. I have an idea of what I would like but seeking images from designers though Pinterest etc. is very useful.
Did you enjoy your guest speaker appearance at Metier Rendezvous recently? What did you bring away with you from that?
Very much, it is a great feeling to pass on years of knowledge so others don’t have to invest so much time and mistakes as I had to and still do.
I found it very interesting to see the industry from your thoughts and conversations and I can understand how daunting the industry can be for a newbie, and how challenging for the more experienced designer. I do believe that designers can be more informed if industry professionals can assist with their pearls of wisdom. This will not only build their own confidence but allow their clients to engage in more challenging or just different designs to what a less informed designer would feel safe to suggest. In turn, this would aid product sales and engage with a skilled workforce.
Who is your main customer type and which product do you sell the most of?
Most of my work comes from a few high-end building companies and Architects who develop and refurbish stately homes, country houses and townhouses. I have built a reputation over the years for providing and installing a waterproofing system for wetrooms and Spa showers, as well and designing and making custom channel drains.
Has this changed since you started out?
I don’t advertise the tanking service. However, I have managed to keep it going for about 17 years by being consistent, reliable and professional. The drainage has improved over the years but both products have stood the test of time and I have no intention to stop providing this service.
Can you give us an example of a recent project where you received a brief from a designer, collaborated with them and achieved a successful result?
Yes, I recently worked on a new-build country house. I was introduced to the designer by the builder to discuss hidden wetroom drainage. The designer did not know that a hidden channel drain could be designed specifically to suit the construction and tile layout, made in the UK from stainless steel and delivered to site in approximately 10 days. The drainage lower parts could be sent to site the next day so the plumber could get on with the first fix plumbing and drainage with a lightweight carbon fibre supporting grate to follow when the tiling commenced. I think we will be helping them on their next project.
Have you had any “teething issues” over the years and how have you overcome them?
I think that kind of thing is just one of the joys of designing new products… you have to learn and pay attention to your mistakes. The difference between success and failure can sometimes be very small, just a slight tweak to your process. Don’t throw in the towel because it has not happened as quick and as easy as you may have thought. Success is there, you just need to keep at it and be flexible to change.
Remember.. if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got! (caveat.. subject to influences beyond your control)
Having changed careers yourself from helicopter pilot to your current business, what piece of advice would you offer for someone starting out in the design industry?
Well, I trained initially in construction and civil engineering and have always had a business in this field. I worked on commercial office fit-outs in the 90’s and moved onto residential fit-out for a while. Then wetrooms and drainage for the past 17 years or so.
Now, this is a very good question;
- Firstly you must be excited about your chosen field
- Prove to yourself that you can dedicate time and energy to it
- A bit of cash can be useful too.
- Question what is the competition like in this field?
- Can you improve the existing or create something new that people will want?
- What makes you stand out from the others?
- Experience is a quality that counts for a lot and there is no fast track way to achieve it. I adopt the acronym ‘KISS’ Keep It Simple Stupid and if simple doesn’t cut it then start to be creative. Do your research.
- Be good at what you do before moving on to the next thing.
- Would you buy from you, knowing what you know?
- Ask questions! Even if you feel you should know the answer. Remember the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask! You don’t know it all and never will!
- Do your research and don’t take one piece of advice as gospel, everybody has an opinion.
- Be thorough, professional, reliable and consistent.
What are the key benefits for Interior Designers to be working with yourself and Cayeco?
I think it will work both ways, my knowledge of bathroom and wetroom construction from the simplest installation to the most demanding and technical. The key products I have available and now with the cayeco® shower floor, enables a platform for designers to be really creative. That surface material can be installed sympathetically in other areas to create truly unique environments that will excite not only the designer, but the client too. From specialist decorative wall paneling to vanity tops and cupboards, I hope to spend as much time as possible with designers to reinforce their freedom to design, knowing that they have the technical support behind them. Let’s break away from the ‘norm’ and create the most desirable bathrooms you can get your paws on!
What is next for you? ….and Cayeco ?
This year I would like to engage directly with more designers. I am really keen to be challenged by designers’ ideas and test their ideas for surface finishes. I also plan to keep searching for new surface finishes around the world; promote the wall paneling; find a way into super yachts and start the approval process to be certified for installations into corporate business jets.
We are so privileged that Lloyd has taken the time to fill us in and we are really looking forward to seeing where this forward-thinking entrepreneur is going to take us next.
Thanks so much for reading,
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