Back to top

Head of Design/Chief Design Officer

Chelsom Ltd
Job Category: 
Country / Region:

Job Description

About the company:

Chelsom is a UK based market leading designer, manufacturer, and supplier of decorative lighting to the global contract and project interiors sector. Predominately specialising in the supply of lighting to the hospitality, cruise ship and residential sectors, Chelsom’s reputation stands firm as one of the longest standing and well-established suppliers in this field. By having proven relationships for many years with major hotel groups, cruise ship operators, interior designers, architects, shipyards, contractors, and hospitality procurement groups, Chelsom has been able to secure large scale projects with the biggest names in the industry from all around the world. Recent success stories include the supply of lighting to prestigious projects such as Four Seasons Beverley Wilshire, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London, Ritz Carlton Berlin, Virgin Hotel Edinburgh, and Peninsula London. Chelsom has immense flexibility as a business and can work across all global markets and at any budget level allowing the company to service and supply projects ranging from budget hotels at the lower end such as Travelodge and Holiday Inn Express all the way up to luxury 5-star hotel operators such as Peninsula and Mandarin Oriental.

Founded in 1947, and therefore now in its 75th year, Chelsom is a 3rd generation family business based in the Northwest of England. With around 65 employees, the company operates from headquarters in UK where they have large offices, a production facility and over 100,000 sq. feet of warehousing space. Chelsom has an extensive range of standard lighting products, all of which are designed in-house by Will Chelsom (Managing Director) and Robert Chelsom (Chairman). The cutting-edge designs are presented in a 300-page high quality catalogue, as well as within a world class website and in 2021 the company was awarded a Red Dot Award for product design. Furthermore, Chelsom offers a fully flexible bespoke manufacturing service so that client design concepts can be produced either where hundreds of units are required for use in guestrooms and corridors, or a one-off central statement chandelier needs producing for a hotel or cruise ship atrium.

Supported by various in-house project management and operational functions, the Chelsom sales team services clients around the world ensuring immense coverage of overseas markets which has positioned Chelsom as one of the UK’s most successful exporting businesses. Outside of the UK, Chelsom mainly focuses on core export markets of the USA, Mainland Europe and Middle East and their place as a leading exporter has not gone unrecognised as they have recently been rewarded with two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in the International Trade category, firstly in 2017 and again in 2020 on the back of continued overseas growth. The overall revenue is split about 50/50 between domestic and export markets.

2019 financial results posted a record year for Chelsom, both in terms of revenue and profit and it showed that sales around the world had more than doubled since 2014. 2020 and 2021 have been difficult years for many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic but Chelsom has ridden the storm well and has adapted successfully in order to meet the challenges faced. Although they have seen a drop in turnover during the pandemic, strong accounts were published for the 2021 financial year. Throughout 2022 there is a healthy pipeline of project prospects, and the board of directors are looking for growth and a swift return to pre-pandemic trading in 2023

About the role:

As Chelsom looks to expand and grow within its core markets, this brand-new role has been created to oversee the design and creative processes that surround all aspects of standard product design, bespoke product design and product presentation. The role is incredibly unique and challenging yet fundamental to the ongoing growth and success of Chelsom. Currently, all products are designed by both Will and Robert Chelsom, so this is a significant sea-change for the company in bringing a new person to this key area. The strength of the brand has been built on the back of Chelsom’s past and existing collections which clearly reflect the tastes and design aspirations of both Will and Robert. Reporting directly into Will Chelsom this new person will assist him with the design and curation of the Chelsom lighting collections moving forward. The Chelsom collection is updated and renewed every two years and is presented within a 300+ page catalogue and on a market-leading website. The collections are updated substantially with the release of each new edition when approximately 40% of the range is discontinued and replaced each time. The latest collection, Edition 28, is currently set for release in May 2023. The person will be expected to help with all aspects of this product design process from creating initial lighting product design concepts, working them up through the design process with the internal CAD teams, prototyping, value engineering and final selection for the new collections. It is important to note that every single design idea is not purely based on aesthetics but must also incorporate and consider functionality, manufacturing route and value engineering. Strong focus will be required on designing sustainable products for the future and the environment will need to be considered when thinking about materials, manufacturing processes and the overall design of a product. There must be the design discipline of product application in terms of where the product is ending up - for example in a Hospitality/Hotel environment - so this needs consideration. Balance will be needed between introducing brand new design ideas and directions, whilst respecting the established ‘hand-writing’ of the Chelsom design portfolio.

As well as playing a key role in the creation and development of standard products at Chelsom, this person will be involved in the custom and bespoke design process. Every single day the Chelsom team is challenged with tendering for custom lighting designs put forward by interior designers, lighting designers and architects from around the world. Whether for Hotel, Cruise or Residential projects, there is an incredible variety of bespoke designs that Chelsom is asked to produce. This person will be expected to attend internal project kick-off meetings where they will lead and advise on the design process. In some cases, customer drawings can be very specific which makes the process more straight forward, however, often there may only be a vague design concept to start the project and it is Chelsom’s responsibility to design and engineer a product solution. This person will have to make key decisions around design direction, and they will support the CAD and sourcing teams on a project-byproject basis by interpreting these design concepts and translating them into viable design solutions, adding their own design flare and incorporating their knowledge of trends and fashions throughout.

Additional creative support and involvement will be required in all aspects of product presentation and display so this candidate will be invested and involved with the process of creating any new product catalogue and website. Alongside the MD and working with Chelsom’s marketing and product teams as well as their communication and marketing partners, the person will be involved with the design process of the catalogue and website and will be expected to be involved in all aspects of the catalogue/website build. Will Chelsom forever looks to push the creative boundaries when it comes to product design, photography, video and marketing/communication and this new person will be encouraged to assist creatively in this process. Chelsom exhibits at 3-4 exhibitions every year, both in UK and overseas. Currently, all stand designs for each exhibition are created by Will Chelsom and this new person will be encouraged to help with this process. Other creative involvement in aspects of Chelsom marketing and presentation may also involve this new person.

There will be a strong team working around this individual. 4/5 talented CAD technicians are involved in aspects of the design process, and they will work alongside this person to help take design concepts forward through the design process. A Head of Product and Sourcing works within the business to ensure that all aspects of the supply chain are well managed and looked after. They will work alongside this new person in many aspects of the role, especially when it comes to identifying the appropriate manufacturing route for new and bespoke designs. A Head of Technical looks after all technical aspects of Chelsom’s lighting products and there is a strong engineering presence in UK and overseas which assists in the design process.

There are currently no direct reports into this person and the role is a full-time role based at Chelsom’s headquarters in Blackpool, UK.

Duties & Tasks

•Identify end-user requirements across multiple sectors to determine design direction and design strategy, ensuring the overall brand characteristics and qualities are upheld.
• Ongoing design of lighting products to be considered for Chelsom standard collections. A high volume of new products are currently designed for each new Edition and the new person will be expected to come up with original ideas to be included.
• Take design concepts created by the MD and flesh out the process by designing in more detail and product features. There are multiple layers of the design process that happen beyond the initial concept and this person will play a key part in that.
• Present fresh design ideas to the MD on an ongoing basis to be considered for future release.
• Be involved in sketching and the drawing process for both standard and bespoke products.
• Assist the MD with design research, looking at design trends, fashions, and general new directions for design. This will involve travelling to design exhibitions and trade fairs, both in UK and overseas. The person will be expected to have a strong awareness of all lighting trends as well as general trends in interior design and product design.
• Assist with the project management of the catalogue and website process. There is already a large team involved with this and someone already currently heads up this process, however the candidate will play a role in the curation of the collection, the design and layout of product pages in the catalogue and on the website, the prototyping process, the photography process, and the final sign off of imagery, catalogue pages and website pages.
• Attend daily project meetings to lead the design process where custom design requirements are in play. The candidate will be expected to use their experience and knowledge of design in shaping the initial bespoke design requests – often limited in detail, before it is then passed through the design, engineering, project management and sourcing processes. The initial decisions made on design direction are crucial to the success of any project.
• Sketch and liaise with CAD to translate custom/bespoke design requirements from customer initial concepts so that they might be suitable for pricing and tendering and so that engineering and manufacturing discussions can begin. • The person will be expected to have eyes on all bespoke design requirements.
• Work closely and collaboratively with Head of Technical, Head of Product and Sourcing and the CAD design team, both on standard product designs as well as bespoke designs.
• Attend design trade shows where required.
• Possible visits to factories (UK and overseas) in the supply chain throughout the design process.
• Learn to understand the various manufacturing process as well as key aspects of product development such as value-engineering.
• Consider the environment in all aspects of design. Think about designing and manufacturing sustainably and research ways in which the company can improve in all aspects of this topic.
• Client visits and customer contact will be required on an ad hoc basis to discuss project design needs and to pitch and showcase Chelsom’s design capabilities. 

Expected qualifications and experience:

• Previous substantial experience or formal training in product or interior design essential.
• Previous experience working in decorative lighting preferred.
• Considerable previous market experience either within an Interior Design company or an FF&E product design company.
• Must be able to demonstrate an appreciation for and an understanding of trends and fashions within interior design and product design – ideally within the design of decorative lighting.
• Must have an experimental mind-set with the ability to drive innovation and think outside of the box.
• An understanding of the contract interiors marketplace is preferred, ideally with an understanding of the hospitality, marine/cruise, or residential project sectors. Not essential, however.
• The ability to work autonomously and to be flexible to the needs of the business.
• The ability to work across different departments.
• Must have a passion for design and must be interested in assisting to evolve the Chelsom product offering.
• Some experience of creating product collections or lines preferred and an understanding of the general design process from initial design concept all the way through to presentation required.
• Previous involvement in the curation of product collections, building a catalogue or product website is preferred but not essential.
• A basic understanding of manufacturing processes and engineering is preferred.
• Experience working with CAD and modelling software EG Solidworks but not essential.
• The ability to sketch and draw initial product designs is essential.
• Some project management experience is preferred.
• Must have compelling communication skills.
• Ability to work full time at company HQ in Blackpool, UK.

How to Apply:

Please contact: