Chatting with Darryl Woodcock
I got to know Darryl Woodcock and his great team at STRADA Ironmongery some years ago when we collaborated on a stunning beach house project in West Wittering. He was so helpful on all the details, even the smallest ones.
Specifying door ironmongery, no matter if the project ranges from just a few rooms, to an entire mansion, can be quite daunting in terms of the terminology alone. Therefore a company like STRADA who can make the process effortless in terms of finishes, sizes as well as other technical information, really can be a wonderful boon to your design team.
How did Strada come about and how long ago?
The original family business started in 1850 in land and property management. Our move into the field we are in today really started in 1981 when Strada began working on specification and supply of kitchen and cabinetry hardware. By the turn of the century, Strada were serving all sectors of the architectural ironmongery industry, including supply to doors and windows.
Who forms part of your team?
Strada London remains a family-own and run business (now stretching right back to 1850). My parents and two brothers are key members of the ownership/management team. We are also ably assisted by 10 staff members at head office here in Keston. Furthermore, we are aide by a further 60 specialist fabricators working in production and finishing.
What do you think the history books will say about the innovative products/service that you have designed/provided?
We still feel there is a lot of history to be written! If we looked back right now I think the major feature that would be recognised is how we have been able to mould the bespoke product offering required of this industry with the technical understanding and attention-of-detail required to ensure the projects we supply are a great success.
Who or what are your biggest inspirations or influences?
From a product design perspective, we have been massively influenced by some of the soft deco designs of the 60s. We have continued to bring these designs into our product ranges right up to today. From a business perspective, we have been inspired by the success of some of the luxury vehicle manufacturers. We’ve been keen in bringing bespoke products to the market for a select audience but with the capability to develop methods to ensure we can serve a range of requirements.
Having grown into this family business, you must surely have a rather unique perspective, what piece of advice would you offer for someone starting out in the design industry?
I don’t feel able to give helpful advice as such. However, a key learn I would say is that the combination of passion and hard-work trumps every other gift you may have access too. Hard-work by itself will get you so far but if you genuinely love the products/services and clients you have the opportunity to work with you will make so much more progress.
How has the community of Interior designers influenced you within your own home?
More than I realise sometimes! In the nearly-5 years I have been at Strada London I have seen a range of homes, hotels, yachts and clubs all with their own incredible design ‘stamp’. I think with a much wider view on materials and products that are available as a result…if you have the budget to suit, anything is possible.
Did you enjoy your guest speaker appearance at Metier Rendezvous recently? What did you bring away with you from that?
I massively enjoyed it. I felt very welcome in the group and one thing that really stood out was how each member was so comfortable sharing information about their business and their challenges…it really said something about the camaraderie of the group which you should all be very proud of.
Who is your main customer type and which product do you sell the most of?
Our main customer type is Interior Designers and Interior Architects. We rely on this group to specify and select our products and are very grateful for the opportunities provided to us. The items we sell the most of now would be door hinges (either Concealed Bearing or fully Concealed) due to the number required across the project.
Has this changed since the company started out?
Yes, hugely! Our initial target customer way back in 1981 were kitchen fitters and joiners. The main items being sold in volume then would have been cabinet hinges and drawer runners of varying types.
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?
The project that stands out due to its complexity was for a large family home in Chelsea. The client had a huge amount to do with the interior design including the selection of materials and actual ironmongery pieces. The brief was complex in that it was so dynamic and also tested our ability to fabricate bespoke items. Some of the products selected being particular props from movies. We then had to screenshot, sketch-up, CAD draw and then eventually create. The completed project is definitely the most creative project we have been involved in. As a result, the net-result is a stunning family home for our clients.
Have you had any “teething issues” over the years and how have you overcome them?
Too many to number! In my tenure here the main challenges we have had to overcome were getting some control over production lead times. This can be difficult when you are fabricating one-off bespoke items. Another challenge has been perfecting our operational elements. Our Operations Department have done a phenomenal job on both of these areas and we now feel our project delivery arm is one of the strongest we have.
What are the key benefits for Interior Designers to be working with yourself and STRADA?
In a nutshell, it’s that Strada London take care of the whole ironmongery package (doors, windows, and cabinetry). This includes specifying, scheduling, finish coordination and regulatory requirements. We know how complex this trade is and we can give you the assurance that this package is 100% taken care of.
What is next for you? ….and STRADA?
We have plans to develop our ranges into the widest collection ever put to market. We now have an office in Sydney and are looking into opportunities to continue our international growth with hubs in the UAE and New York. For me, its business-as-usual here at Strada London. We remain committed to delivering exceptional products, with exceptional service to our exceptional clients and their projects.
Thanks so much to Darryl for taking the time to chat with us. We remain grateful for his (and Strada’s) guidance and expertise.
Thanks so much for reading,
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