Glean is a lean tech startup based in London. They provide a web platform for managing social media for trade shows and major events.

Founded in 2011 by Internet veteran Paul Birch (@paulbirch99) and ex-IBM team Ajay Mathur (@june5) and Peter Richards (@brightchimp), Glean started out based at a shared workspace in central London. As they picked up customers and secured funding rounds, the team grew, first with the arrival of Tamar Beck (@tamarbeck1) from Reed Exhibitions, then another IBM recruit Anne Jang (@anne_jang) and Head of Product Paul Carey (@paul_carey).

The Leathermarket in London Bridge.

In spring 2013, with two rounds of funding under their belt, it was time for Glean to move out of their shared workspace and into their own office. They scoured central London for an appropriate space, eventually finding a warehouse conversion in the Leathermarket old tannery complex off Bermondsey Street near the Shard at London Bridge. At roughly 600sqft, the space has high windows and exposed brickwork.

Glean’s team at work.

With a view to being able to accommodate eight permanent developer workstations, Glean chose to fit the space out with two Lean Desks in Birch-faced Plywood.

Ajay Mathur, Co-Founder:

“The raw birch finish fitted our warehouse aesthetic perfectly. Our team is focused on product: design and development work to build a better web platform for our clients. The flexible table top shape of the desk design allows us to configure for individual workstations or for pair programming, with two people working on one screen.”

Glean’s Opendesk table top.

The desks were cut by Ian Jinks and assembled on location by Owen Dyke from the Opendesk team. Glean were early adopters and we picked up some valuable design feedback from the installation. In particular, the Glean team found the structural beams supporting the table top too deep, so we fixed these on-site and revised the design for future pieces. We also re-cut a table top which had warped slightly in transport. This taught us not to pre-assemble before transporting and increased our quality control procedures.

Most fundamentally, working with Ajay helped us to see the need to simplify our consumer offer by reducing the complexity of the buying decision. As an early adopter, we had explained to him the full digital fabrication process, with its myriad options. He found this overwhelming and advised that we boil these down into as few options as possible for the end consumer.

This advice led directly to the development of our sawn, flatpack, assembled model. This shields the consumer from the finishing and configuration options implicit in each product, whilst still allowing them to engage with the making process as much (or as little) as they like. The complexity still exists but is hidden from the consumer by decisions we make as the product designer.

Ajay again:

“Overall, we’re just delighted with the the desks. They look great, they’re exceptionally functional and they always provide a talking point when clients visit. More than that, we believe in the future of local manufacturing. We’re delighted to play our part in the narrative — and to support another London startup in the process.”

Detail of the Opendesk in evening sunlight.
Anne, Ajay and Paul, with the Shard in the background.

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