Wren Loucks is the CEO and Creative Director of design company Be-kin. Here, she tells us how it all came about
When did you set the company up and what did you hope to achieve? And why the name?
Be-kin is an amalgamation of my life experiences, values, and creativity. The company has been running for just over a year now, and it’s been an incredible journey. I wanted to create a design studio that provides something much deeper than beautiful homes and commercial spaces. I wanted to create a studio that pairs cross-disciplinary research with the design process, to truly create spaces that stimulate wellbeing and purpose. Our clients are at the heart of everything we do and our services wrap around them, to create spaces that truly align with who they are and how they want to live. The name Be-kin came to me over a period of a couple weeks, where I was sitting in a meditative state with various words that I felt associated with my design philosophy. Eventually I painted the words on pieces of watercolour paper and stuck them on the wall, thinking about how the words sounded and visually looked. I decided I wanted to make up a word from my reference points, to provide a sense of ambiguity and freedom that would enable my company to develop into its own true path, rather than be pigeon-holed with a specific studio name and semiotic association from the start. People love to associate their own meaning to the word Be-kin, and I really love hearing about what it means to them. There is something playful and open-minded about this, which aligns with my values.
What kind of people do you work with?
Our clients are remarkable people – they inspire me. Over the past 12 months, most of our clients have been single men in their 30s and 40s, who hold C-suite positions in the city. They are at a point in their life where they have disposable income to invest in a home, and they value quality craftsmanship. I take each client on a journey, to discover what kind of spaces and design elements truly align with who they are, and how they want to live their life. Once this is clear, we bring the scheme to life from concept design straight through to installation and final styling. The feedback has been remarkable, once client said: “Be-kin’s design captures my soul.”
We have also worked with some incredible corporate clients, like Club Q, who see the value in creating spaces that foster true social sustainability. It’s also clever, from a business perspective, as it provides a point of brand differentiation.
Tell us about your background. How did that contribute to setting up Be-kin?
Prior to Be-kin, I worked in the ultra-luxury interior design market in London and in access consultancy. I was a Team Leader & Interior Designer at the world-renowned Studio Indigo, where I designed the most exclusive private homes in the world. But I was curious to learn more about how spaces affect our wellbeing and productivity, from a scientific perspective. This led me to Motionspot, where I was Head of Design, and led teams of researchers to create inclusive design strategies for large global brands. At Motionspot, I poured through data and research, taking a cross disciplinary approach to design, to learn the effect it has on our cognitive, physical and sensorial abilities. Be-kin stitches together this research, with my experience in luxury interior design, to create beautiful spaces that stimulate wellbeing and purpose.
What were the challenges in the early days?
The early days are a blur of adrenaline and excitement. I worked around the clock, bringing together my vision for the company, alongside designing spaces for clients. I self-funded Be-kin, rather than taking on private investment, which meant that I had to be incredibly resourceful. There is a creativity within this, but at times it felt challenging. However – even within the moments of high stress – I felt a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to be creating a company that I wholeheartedly believe in, and a deep drive to keep going.
You are studying for an MBA at the School of Management at University College, London. Why did you decide to do that and how has it helped in your work?
I am currently an MBA Candidate at UCL. The course is online and flexible in nature (e.g. I can take one to three modules per term). This allows me to take an MBA alongside running my company, rather than a more traditional MBA where I would have been required to take an entire year off work. The MBA has been an incredible resource for me, providing practical skills that accelerated Be-kin’s entry into the market and current growth. I have found the course deeply inspiring, in terms of the coursework itself, the professors and my colleagues. I can’t imagine launching Be-kin without the support of the UCL MBA.
What do you enjoy about running your own company? And what are the challenges?
The creative freedom and the opportunity to create a studio that truly aligns with my ethos is something I really enjoy. However, this freedom also comes charged with deep responsibility, and the awareness that my choices in company management, strategy and design methodology will have an impact of my clients, staff, and suppliers. I want to have a positive impact on all those I engage with and, as a result, this means I am consistently reflecting on and refining my operating methods and design processes. I don’t see this as a challenge per se, but it is something that requires my attention and time.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time? What would constitute success?
In five years’ time, I would like to be in a financial position to design an incredible home or retreat space for Be-kin. The space itself will be a prototype of our design ethos, illustrating how spaces can stimulate wellbeing, creativity, and purpose. It will inspire the design team, our clients, and suppliers. In addition to this, I hope we will be an award-winning design studio. I hope that my design ethos and philosophy will reach a wider audience, finding those individuals who can really benefit from Be-kin. Ultimately, I hope that Be-kin’s light will shine brighter and more boldly – our warmth radiating out and benefiting the lives of as many individuals as possible.