Getting to know Felix and HUX
Call it Groundhog Day syndrome, but there has most definitely been a blurring of time for me over the last few months, and so this blog interview has been slightly delayed, ok well more than slightly…my bad – but it’s definitely worth the wait!
As we settled into lockdown, Felix Milns, founder of joinery specialist HUX, was our next guest speaker back in May 2020. On this particular occasion, I think that this talk being done via webinar was hugely beneficial to us. We were able to see and absorb far more information on the topic than I think we would have been able to, had we been in our usual brunch set up (i.e. designers around breakfast tables).
Please share with our readers how you, Felix Milns came to form HUX? How did you get started?
I originally set up a building company in 2005 called Zulufish, which grew into a complete design and build company, and in 2014 we started an in-house joinery service making kitchens and joinery for our Zulufish clients. As we grew and started to produce joinery for other clients we felt it would be better to start a completely separate company focusing purely on joinery, and HUX was born.
What inspired you to form the joinery side of your business?
On the one hand, I saw that there was a business opportunity to provide a quality in-house product, while at the same time I had always been fascinated with joinery, right from the days of helping my grandfather turn his lathe in his garage in Rochdale! Now we have an 8000sqft Hux workshop with all the latest machinery. I hope he is proudly looking down, and happy that we still turn a lathe by hand as well as using the latest technology!
Who forms part of your team at Hux?
We are lucky to have a really strong team behind us including five designers with different areas of expertise. David Robinson, our technical design manager, has been working in high-end bespoke joinery design for over 30 years, and our design manager, Rebecca Northmore, has masses of kitchen experience from her time at Kitchens by Holloways. Our other designers have worked at Roundhouse, Smallbone and Neptune, as well as specialist joinery companies.
Who or what are your biggest design inspirations or influences within your own business?
We work closely with lots of Interior Designers so it is our duty to keep abreast of material innovations, new techniques, interesting details, edgings etc, anything that will keep us ahead of the curve and able to suggest innovative ideas when given a design brief.
With all your knowledge about luxury joinery, what Top 3 Tips would you offer for a fresh new Interior Designer just starting out?
The Interior Design / Joinery is such a wonderfully collaborative experience. My Top 3 Tips would be:
- Knowledge is paramount so visit every trade show going and immerse yourself.
- You can’t be an expert at everything so leave the technical details to experts who have done it hundreds of times before.
- When in doubt, sketch it out! The devil is in the detail so you can never be too clear about a design brief.
Who is your main customer type at Hux?
80% of our clients are Interior Designers or other design professionals. We do work with end clients when they approach us, but we don’t actively target them, preferring to form partnerships with design professionals to service their clients.
Which service / product do you sell the most of?
As everything we do is bespoke, we don’t have a regular product as such; however, we have definitely been making a lot of TV/fireplace walls recently, along with home bars. Contemporary paneling is also a real trend. And kitchens of course.
How do you choose or vet your suppliers/products?
Most of our board materials come from two or three main suppliers and we are careful to check the source of timber to ensure it comes from sustainable sources. For wood veneers we use Mundy’s and Relvenshade, and we have built up a trusted network of upholsterers and metalworkers. We typically visit their workshops and test them on smaller jobs first to ensure they can meet our timescales and standards.
What (materials) have you been experimenting with recently?
Two of my favourite materials at the moment are Richlite, a superbly tactile board material made from recycled paper, and Fenix, which is a contemporary nanotech material in a matt finish in a lovely range of F&B style colours.
What is still your biggest challenge within your own business?
Managing growth is always a real challenge. What I have learnt with the various businesses over the years is to focus on steady growth rather than get carried away with rapid expansion, that way you can maintain quality and service without being overstretched.
Did you enjoy your guest speaker appearance at Metier Rendezvous recently? What did you bring away with you from that?
I really enjoyed it. It was great to interact with the Metier Interior Designers and listen to the ongoing discussions, particularly in the middle of lockdown.
What are the key benefits for Interior Designers to be working with HUX?
First and foremost, it is working with a specialist, a professional provider who you can trust. We are experts in taking your concept sketches and images and turning them into fully-realised shop drawings, ensuring that the design will work optimally with the most suitable materials. The fact that we make it all locally in West London is also a big advantage.
What has been the most interesting or enlightening moment for you, while working with an Interior Designer?
My favourite thing about working with Interior Designers is they are always pushing the boundaries of what is possible, so they are a huge source of inspiration for us. Currently, we are manufacturing an incredible home bar with curved ribbed doors that open out to reveal a high gloss interior for an Interior Designer, who is working for Olly Murs (he has given us express permission to share his name; we are normally very discreet about our celebrity clients).
What is next for you and HUX?
We have just completed the move into our new 8000 sq. ft. workshop near Heathrow. It was due to happen earlier in the year, but was delayed due to Covid, so we are extremely excited to finally move in. Any Metier designers who would like to come over for a tour would be more than welcome!
The man behind HUX
And so, from understanding HUX, the business, its evolution, ethos and development, to delving into what makes the man behind it tick. We are so lucky that Felix Milns was happy and willing to share with us some of his background, his inspirations, his motivations, and his aspirations.
Did your upbringing inspire you to become a luxury joinery manufacturer?
My parents split up when I was quite young, and my mother and stepfather subsequently renovated a string of properties. Both my uncles also worked in property development, so property has always been in my blood. My first career was as a travel and lifestyle journalist, so I have always had a very keen eye for design, and the two seem to have come together very naturally with HUX.
Tell us about your own home… or perhaps about your favourite room in your home. What kind of property do you live in?
We live in a period Victorian property in Chiswick. We dug out the basement front to back and this is where we run our studio. My favourite room is our open plan kitchen and living area; it is quite a large space, full of light, so we zoned it by introducing a 3-sided glass fire to define the space between the dining area and snug. We also recently added a fabulous Art Deco ceiling moulding detail, painted in the same colour as the walls, to replace a series of pompoms we first put up for a party 5 years ago! For this space, we have just upgraded our concrete tabletop to a fantastic piece of swirling turquoise Amazonite along with a new HUX dresser in a specialist eucalyptus veneer, with smart charging station and metal framed glass doors to complete the look.
How would you describe your own interior style?
Contemporary timeless elegance.
What has been your biggest home extravagance?
Recently I would have to say the new Amazonite stone tabletop, but it works so perfectly with the contemporary artwork above that we could not resist it! It really does look like the painting is actually pouring out onto the table.
And what is on your coffee table?
Beautiful books on design and photography obviously, oversized candles and a series of marquetry boxes hiding everything from guitar picks, remote controls, glass-cleaning cloths and packs of cards.
Who inspires you on the design front?
Piero Lissoni’s purist lines mixed with beautiful materials. He creates timeless design and furniture I will never tire of.
Lastly, if you had a blank cheque, what would you be splashing out on for your own home?
A beautiful bespoke metal home drinks bar, which I think should be on everyone’s wish list since Covid-19 hit!
So worth the wait – such a fascinating insight into the company, HUX, and the founder, Felix Milns. Our immense gratitude for joining us at our brunch, Felix, and sharing your knowledge, expertise and experiences. It was great to hear how valued collaboration between interior design and joinery is by Felix and his team, and what a reciprocal relationship it can be, with both elements inspiring innovation and creativity. So, if you are looking for a high quality bespoke, design solution for kitchens and/or joinery, then speak to Felix and his team as the market-leading specialists at www.hux-london.co.uk
If you would like to join us in a webinar and have the opportunity to listen to some engaging speakers over a delightful brunch, then get in touch today