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The chair Jay & Co did not want to let go

Jay Blades turns forgotten old furniture into unique statement pieces. His company Jay & Co work with teenagers from troubled backgrounds, helping them to transform their lives.

Jay & Co was named by BBC One as “One of the UK’s coolest furniture designers, he has appeared on TV programmes with Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer of Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location.

Jay’s distinctive style in which he redesigns, reworks and restores salvaged pieces of furniture honours the original workmanship and design. His organisation is run by people who all have experienced challenging circumstances in their teenage years, but have been able to turn their lives around with support from Jay & Co.

We first met last year at Decorex International, which is firmly recognised among the international design community as the trusted resource for high-end interiors where we launched our Kaleidoscope Collection for Spring and Summer 2017.

Designer’s Atelier Stand K60 at Decorex International 2016

Our Summer Kaleidoscope caught Jay’s eye in such a big way that we made it to his personal round up from the show.

This is what he had to say about our chair upholstered in Kaleidoscope Summer fabric: “WOW I’m blown away……. Designer’s Atelier fabric caught my eye in a very big way. The chair was so dramatic. I don’t know how anybody could pass it without stopping and admiring.”

Jay & Co’s personal round up from Decorex International 2016

Whilst many people associate interior design purely with beautiful things for the home, there is a whole spectrum of design out there that goes far deeper. It was also refreshing to meet someone inspirational and philosophical within an interior design industry. After a bit of digging I have discovered that Jay studied criminology and philosophy.

Jay Blades, Image Courtesy of Jay & Co

Growing up in Hackney, Jay was involved in anti-social pursuits, a life that many youths from impoverished backgrounds become mixed up with for various different reasons. Jay has since transformed his ways becoming an entrepreneur, selling upcycled furniture in Heals where he teaches workshops on how to redesign and restore furniture, working with designers such as Sir Terence Conran.

How to re-furbish your furniture with Jay & Co at Heal’s Photograph Courtesy of Jay & Co

Prior to running Jay & Co, Jay was the Co-founder of the award-winning charity ‘Out of the Dark’. As a highly skilled community leader, Jay’s creative talent in redesigning, reworking and restoring abandoned furniture is bringing back a host of dying British Crafts!

For his new company, Jay & Co, he picked the location with the second highest unemployment rate in the country. “It’s very similar to what Out of the Dark was all about, he says but my role is more of a consultancy role – I go round to areas wherever there’s a need for me to set up a project, rather than be fixed in one location, I will go and set up a project and teach people how to do it, and they will take over from me. Out of the Dark taught me there’s a possibility you can reignite young people’s attitudes towards work, attitudes towards themselves, and towards general life.”

Jay Blades, Image Courtesy of Jay & Co

Jay’s on a mission to bring traditional crafts back to other areas of the country, having been inspired by Wycombe’s place as the centre of the chair making business.

It was his forthright manner which was picked up on years ago by a senior police officer in Oxfordshire who invited him to join the force’s race relations panel. Jay then went on to found Street Dreams, where he became “a microphone for young people” helping to discuss issues with police on neutral territory.

Jay’s ethos when working with teenagers is clear, when he says, ‘if you truly wish to improve your self-confidence’, self-esteem, and self-worth, stop allowing other people to be responsible for them.

One of the teenage boys at Jay’s workshop. Image Courtesy of Jay & Co

“If I sat down some of these kids and said: ‘Right, I’m going to teach you how to restore old furniture’, they’d think that was boring rubbish. But if I say I’m going to show you how to make money from nothing, then they’re interested.”

‘Making money from nothing’ is exactly what Jay shows them how to do – find a couple of old chairs that are either being thrown out or dumped at the local tip, give them a new lease of life through upholstery and a coat of paint, then sell them to people who will pay the right price for furniture that has been lovingly restored.

“He’s proud of the fact that he has a 98 per cent success rate with young people. Jay told The Voice: “OK, the other two per cent might end up in prison, but the rest do well. I’ve had some real success stories – such as Leigh-Anne Pinnock who won The X Factor a few years ago.

Jay has my full admiration! We at Designer’s Atelier support his cause by donating some of our Kaleidoscope fabrics to his workshop.

Here’s a close up of our Kaleidoscope Velvet Summer Fabric, Image Courtesy of Designer’s Atelier

Jay has social media contacts second to none with at least 20,000 followers which he engages with daily by posting inspirational thoughts alongside his latest pieces. He really loves to tease his audience as you can see from the following Facebook posts of the chair upholstered in our fabric.

Jay & Co June 28 at 8:51am
Here you go. Of course I didn’t just stop there. 😊 40 likes please and I’ll post another one

The chair Jay & Co did not want to let go. Image Courtesy of Jay and Co

Jay & Co June 28 at 11:17am
Ok I hope you guys are ready for this. 30 likes please and you get to see a back, that is just WOW.

The Chair Jay & Co did not want to let go. Image Courtesy of Jay & Co

Jay & Co June 28 at 12:11pm
Now what do you think about that back? 😊

The chair Jay & Co did not want to let go. Image Courtesy of Jay and Co

Jay & Co June 29 at 6:24am

Oftentimes it is better to be kind than to be right.
We do not always need an intelligent mind that speaks, just a patient heart that listens. Be kind whenever possible. And realise that it is always possible. It takes a great deal of strength to be gentle and kind. And when you practice kindness and bring sunshine to the lives of others, you cannot keep it from yourself.

The Chair Jay & Co did not want to let go. Image Courtesy of Jay & Co

Jay & Co June 30 at 4:36pm
Good afternoon all, sorry I’ve been a bit busy. What do you think of the seat and which way looks best?

The Chair Jay & Co did not want to let go. Image Courtesy of Jay & Co

Jay & Co July 3 at 6:48am
Good morning all, I’m sitting in this chair for the 1st time and I really didn’t want to let it go. 😔 Sad/ Happy times but what do you think of the photo, great one right?

The Chair Jay & Co did not want to let go. Image Courtesy of Jay & Co

“I want to be the Jamie Oliver of furniture restoration,” says Jay. I cannot see the reason why not!

Jay & Co is currently working on getting a regeneration project off the ground in Wolverhampton, in addition to this, they are also being filmed by the BBC to be in their Money for Nothing show series about up-cycling furniture that is found in skips.

I am totally thrilled with the way Jay used our Kaleidoscope fabric and cannot wait to see what he does with our Spring Design!

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