In 2023 the Meins family opened the doors to The Boathouse, a newly built three-storey coworking and members space on the banks of the River Wey in Guildford. The Boathouse is home to two businesses - The Boathouse Cafe, a restaurant serving seasonal food and drink, and new members club, Soulspace. Aptly named for its picturesque riverside location, The Boathouse was conceived with a profound commitment to sustainability, wellbeing and community. The founders worked with sustainable creative agency Raw Clay, to establish an identity and interior design scheme that would deliver on the brand’s soulful vision.
Artisans and Community Connection
Raw Clay wanted to embed a deep connection to the local community into the design of the building, so artisans from the Surrey Hills played a pivotal role in crafting the space. A local ceramicist’s handmade tiles wrap the cafe bar, while bespoke handcrafted furniture pieces, including pieces made from local storm-fall timber, were designed by Raw Clay and crafted by skilled joiners. The signature stairwell pendant, made by a talented young blacksmith, was designed to bring craftsmanship right to the heart of the building.
Sustainability at the Core
By working with a palette of materials inspired by the river and its banks, Raw Clay has created an interior scheme that feels at-one with the immediate natural environment, encouraging connection and balance. The design team encorporated a recurring ripple detail, a nod to the river’s gentle waves, by integrating it into different materials throughout the building. It is found on the edge of intricately carved desks and shelves, on rippled glass in brass room dividers, and even in carefully selected vintage pieces that bear the marks of time and wear.
The Boathouse project demonstrates the beauty of sustainable materials, and how sustainable design can elevate a space. Every design choice Raw Clay made in this building, from materials to manufacturing processes, was made with a focus on minimising environmental impact, and enhancing wellbeing.
Raw Clay collaborated with COAT to ensure that each detail of this project would reflect their commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. A palette of greens, including Yard Party, Darlington, Debate Club, and a bespoke French Grey, brought a connection to the surrounding greenery into the upper floors of the building. In the basement, deep, clay-like colours such as Old Street create a feeling of earthiness, and reference the sediment of the riverbed.
The Boathouse is a beautiful illustration of a new era of interior design, one that harmoniously blends luxury, sustainability, craftsmanship, and a deep reverence for nature.