First designs in for the big Commonplace conversion

We are back! And excited to share some of the first designs for the Commonplace interior conversion, as crowdfunded for at the end of 2017. This is a lengthy post for those design nuts out there who love a fabric sample! If you want to have a quick preview check out our last newsletter here

The Design Team

We were introduced to Gianluca and Felix from You &i at the end of summer 2017 by the team behind The Pilcrow Pub. Much like the building of the pub we knew we wanted to involve locals in creating the bus and we needed to find a design team who shared this vision and were as passionate as us about collaboration. We also needed a team that weren't scared of a challenge - renovating a bus is not a simple task. 

 Left to right: Roxanna, Gianluca, Lucy and Felix 

Left to right: Roxanna, Gianluca, Lucy and Felix 

In October 2017 Lucy travelled to Blackpool with Gianluca and Felix to visit Blackpool Design Coachbuilders (BDC) who will be installing the internal generator and electrics, introducing climate control to the space and moving the door to the centre of the bus. This was an opportunity for us to pick the brains of BDC about the logistics of converting a bus. There is a lot to take into account, such as how much the bus rattles when it moves, how to deal with condensation and the weight of materials. Thankfully the boys weren't deterred and have built a great relationship with BDC to ensure we are designing something that is both beautiful and realistic given the constraints of the bus. 

The Design Prompts 

There were a number of reasons we chose not to complete the entire bus conversion at a specialist conversion company, including cost and being able to regularly visit the bus during the renovations. We also wanted to avoid the traditional conversion style used in play buses and campaign vehicles which are often heavy on the use of plastic. Presenting the project to You &i we had 3 key prompts:

1. a space that is as beautiful and functional as you might see in a modern office space, library or coffee shop.

2. a space that is flexible and multi-purpose

3. a design which includes fittings that can be created by the local community so it becomes a community asset

The First Designs

 Materials include formica, cork and felt.

Materials include formica, cork and felt.

Colour & Texture

The one aspect we were pretty sure we nailed straight away is the interior colour scheme. You &i have picked a palette that plays on the exterior paint work of the bus (which will remain the same) but with a much more muted feel to ensure the space stays bright and calm. The cork and formica (in blue above) will clad the walls - a great option as they are light weight and easy to adhere to the current plastic wall covering. The flooring needed to remain functional given the many feet it will see, but has been made more interesting using 3 colour ways (the pink, black and chocolate colours above) which will be laid in angles to create zones (an idea we saw suggested at one of our consultation events). 

 The table legs unclip underneath to be removed, and have the option to be powder coated in a bright colour.

The table legs unclip underneath to be removed, and have the option to be powder coated in a bright colour.

 The stools are designed to be small and easy to store, but we think need to be a bit more comfortable!

The stools are designed to be small and easy to store, but we think need to be a bit more comfortable!

Furniture 

We are upgrading when it comes to furniture - goodbye IKEA stools and fold down market tables and hello to bespoke furniture! As every event we host has different equipment needs we wanted furniture that was flexible and could be stored neatly out of the way when not in use. The furniture You &i have designed has collapsable legs and tops that slot into a purpose built storage unit. The tables are narrower than our current offering meaning they are easier to walk around when in use and can be arranged in multiple layouts (see below). The stools are a work in progress as we have concerns about comfort, especially as larger bottomed girls! We are exploring options for a removable sling backrest which would be better for full day seated workshops. 

 Top deck, viewed from rear: the front area which has been dead space up to now will be repurposed for storage and soft seating.

Top deck, viewed from rear: the front area which has been dead space up to now will be repurposed for storage and soft seating.

 The tables can be arranged in endless configurations, with space still to move around them. We can see this set up as a science lab or computer workshop!

The tables can be arranged in endless configurations, with space still to move around them. We can see this set up as a science lab or computer workshop!

Layout

Of course there are some restrictions when it comes to layout, especially on the lower deck where the exits and wheel arches have to be worked around. You &i have responded to this by playing around with the seating area at the rear of the lower deck (see image below), staggering the heights of the space to make a luxurious lounge area. You could recline with a book or work from your laptop in this area. The seats also lift up to hide and store event equipment. 

 Lower deck, viewed from the front: the multipurpose seating area with storage works around the wheel arches. We have also asked to see an option with a walk way through the centre of the seating.

Lower deck, viewed from the front: the multipurpose seating area with storage works around the wheel arches. We have also asked to see an option with a walk way through the centre of the seating.

The area at the front of the bus where the current entrance door is will be transformed once the door moves to the centre of the bus. The generator will be housed opposite the driver's cabby (where the door was) and will be covered with a useful kitchen / work bench. This area can be closed off from the public with a drop down hatch. 

 Lower deck, view from the kitchen: the kitchen area / work bench will disguise the generator and front wheel arches. It's the perfect spot for food prep during a supper club, or bar for a party!

Lower deck, view from the kitchen: the kitchen area / work bench will disguise the generator and front wheel arches. It's the perfect spot for food prep during a supper club, or bar for a party!

Phew! If you made it to the end of this post - thank you. You really are a budding Kevin McCloud! As this project was part-funded by our lovely supporters we wanted to keep you in the loop of every part of the conversion journey to see what your support has helped to create. We value your feedback so please let us know your thoughts via email or tweeting us using #commonplaceconversion. 

Lucy Cooke