CIFI and Arbrook Land have obtained planning consent for the comprehensive refurbishment of 19 Dacre Street in London’s Victoria. The refurbishment of the building, which was acquired last year by CIFI for €18.7m (£15.75m), will be set across seven storeys, providing 20,000ft² of office space and two new retail units of 4,250ft². It is expected to be completed in spring 2023.
The project has been designed by award-winning architect, Darling Associates, and has been thoughtfully planned to enhance the lives of those who work there. It will offer a communal roof terrace, accessed from the office floors by a lift, floor-to-ceiling glazing, openable windows and a best-in-class air conditioning system, supplying enhanced fresh air. It has strong environmental credentials and is targeting an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM certification and an EPC ‘A’ rating.
Tim Stotesbury, Managing Director at Arbrook Land, said: “We are excited to be working with CIFI on its first project in the UK. This boutique office and retail scheme will provide some of the highest quality 3,000ft² floors available in the West End”.
Eric Ng, Director of Overseas Investment and Financing at CIFI, said: “We look forward to a successful completion of this exciting project, which offers one of the best-in-class offices in the prestigious Victoria submarket, with strong sustainability credentials”.
Bouclé popularised by Coco Chanel is back in fashion in the home
Comfort zone: A bouclé and rattan chair, £695 (oliverbonas.com)
Fashion in clothing is one of the key influences for the way we dress our homes.
The process is usually rapid, with a trend making the transition into décor within a season, as has happened this year with 1970s chic.
But bouclé — which was invented in the 19th century and popularised by Coco Chanel in the 1930s — is only now stepping into the limelight.
This fabric’s name derives from the French boucle (curled) — and it’s racing up the decor style charts, thanks to a new appreciation of its qualities, principally its teddy-bear like feel.
Bouclé is woven from yarn made up of looped fibres of either acrylic, cotton, linen, silk or wool. This gives it an uneven ‘nubby’ appearance, akin to tweed but much softer.
This texture is the reason Chanel chose bouclé for her iconic cardigan-like jacket that was easy to wear, unlike the restricting garments of the era.
The jacket stays in the collection today, even as big names in homeware introduce sofas and chairs with bouclé upholstery.
Now at the Heal’s store in London’s Tottenham Court Road, one of the first pieces that you see is the inviting Nuvola sofa covered in an off-white bouclé (heals.com).
This sofa, which is all curves and no sharp edges, takes its name from nuvoloso, the Italian for cloudy, and it is the rise of this style of reassuring and sink-into seating that is boosting the ascent of bouclé.
Its pleasingly reassuring quality led to the creation of the most celebrated item of bouclé furniture: the Womb chair made in 1948 by Eero Saarinen, the Finnish-American architect for the designer and architect Florence Knoll Bassett.
This bouclé upholstered bucket chair, in which sitting down is likened to lowering yourself into ‘a basket of pillows’, is on sale today at a price of about £1,500.
Such is the ease promised by bouclé that it rivals the appeal of velvet, which was until recently the upholstery favourite.
Helena Davies, head of buying at Barker and Stonehouse, says: ‘We’ve seen a sharp increase in consumers searching for bouclé upholstery, with a 258 per cent jump since the start of the year in comparison with other more classic options like velvet.’
Barker and Stonehouse’s bouclé sofas include the Lenor (£1,599) whose padded design is influenced by stratocumulus clouds (barkerandstonehouse.co.uk).
The Lenor comes in ivory. While bouclé is available in many shades, creams and beiges are surprisingly popular because advances in textile technology have made these tones far more practical than before.
Nicky Line, chief product officer at Loaf bed and sofa group, says: ‘We’re launching our Wobbly Cotton bouclé range in August — it will be a brilliant way for our customers to introduce texture into the home.
‘We’ve made it ‘clever’, so it’s spill-resistant and family-friendly as possible.’ Line argues that bouclé’s blend of what she calls ‘texture, tactility and touch’ embodies the touchy-feely qualities that people want now.
A bouclé sofa is a sizeable investment in this trend, but such is the demand for the fabric that homeware retailers are providing a large range of items in the fabric.
An accent chair will add a contemporary touch to a traditional country-type interior, while softening industrial chic furniture which can now seem a little too edgy.
Habitat has the £160 Cole chair (habitat.co.uk), while John Lewis offers the Anyday Dime Accent chair (£349) in light wood. This is inspired by the seating of the Art Deco period, another key trend of 2023 (johnlewis.com).
If you suspect that even stain-resistant bouclé would not survive in your household, Dunelm’s Kit accent chair in dark grey bouclé has been reduced by 50 per cent to £99 (dunelm.com).
At Dusk, you will find bouclé cushion covers in black and off-white starting at £8 for the 30cm by 50cm size (dusk.com). B&M has bouclé cushions at £12 for two (bmstores.co.uk). Swoon has the £239 Billie midcentury-style bouclé footstool (swoon.com).
The warm response to bouclé has been seen as proof of a longing for the cosy, which means that more sheepskin pieces, either real or faux, will be appearing in the shops.
If a sheepskin throw gives any chair a more relaxing feel, then what could be more laid-back than a sheepskin chair.
During the spring decor shows, one of the standout items was Eikund’s Fluffy lounge chair with sloping wooden armrests and upholstered with shaggy black or white sheepskin.
Would such a chair sit well alongside a bouclé sofa? Yes, because this year your sitting room is, first and foremost, an ultra-comfort zone.
Tragic Train Derailments in India: Over 240 Lives Lost and Hundreds Trapped in Wreckage
By Satish Sharma | Contributor ‘Voice of EU’
Two passenger trains in India met with a devastating accident, resulting in a death toll of at least 240 individuals and leaving hundreds more trapped inside severely damaged coaches.
The incident occurred approximately 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) northwest of New Delhi, the capital city. Rescue efforts are underway, with around 700 injured individuals already taken to nearby hospitals for urgent medical attention. The cause of the derailment is currently under investigation, as authorities work tirelessly to determine the factors that led to this catastrophic event.
Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde, the leading administrator in the Balasore district, confirmed the death toll and expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy. The extent of the devastation prompted an immediate response, with nearly 500 police officers, rescue workers, and medical personnel deployed to the scene. These brave individuals, equipped with 75 ambulances and buses, are diligently working to extricate approximately 200 individuals who remain trapped inside the wreckage.
According to Amitabh Sharma, a spokesperson for the railroad ministry, the derailment involved 10 to 12 coaches from one train, causing debris from the mangled coaches to spill onto an adjacent track. Tragically, another passenger train traveling in the opposite direction collided with the fallen wreckage. As a result, up to three coaches from the second train also derailed, exacerbating the scope of the disaster.
Initial reports indicate that the derailed train, known as the Coromandel Express, was en route from Howrah in West Bengal state to Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The news of this horrific incident reached Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who expressed his distress and offered his condolences to the affected families. In a tweet, he assured that all possible assistance is being extended, having already discussed the matter with the railway minister.
While the Indian government has taken measures to enhance rail safety, accidents continue to occur frequently on the vast railway network, which is the largest under a single management worldwide. India’s railways carry millions of passengers daily, covering an extensive network of 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles). Despite ongoing efforts to modernize infrastructure and equipment, many accidents are attributed to human error or outdated signaling systems.
This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced in ensuring the safety of India’s railway system. As rescue operations persist, the nation mourns the loss of lives and hopes for the swift recovery of those injured. The investigation into the causes of the derailment will play a crucial role in preventing similar incidents in the future.
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Making Technology Consulting More Accessible To SMEs
By Clint Bailey – Editor ‘Voice of EU’
Vibertron Consulting, based in California, emerged on the scene just a year ago, as a subsidiary of Vibertron, and is rapidly gaining momentum as the preferred integrated technology and strategic consultancy platform in the United States and beyond.
At the helm of Vibertron Consulting is Raza H. Qadri (Ali), a highly accomplished individual with a diverse range of qualifications. With an MBA, a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering, and a third degree in Computer Science, Qadri firmly believes in the importance of formal education as a cornerstone for building a robust and sustainable business.
Having amassed valuable experience across various industries including engineering, media, finance, and technology, as well as successfully founding three startups, Qadri is now putting his theories into practice. He has established a global business-to-business (B2B) remote work platform that offers integrated technology, marketing, and sales consultancy solutions specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses.
With his expertise and a strong background in multiple fields, Qadri aims to empower businesses by providing comprehensive solutions tailored to their specific needs. The integrated approach of Vibertron Consulting allows clients to leverage technology, strategic marketing, and sales expertise to expand their operations and drive growth.
“An integrated platform is more of a complex business and go-to-market challenge rather than a technical one” Qadri explained, a Pakistani Canadian who moved to Canada 22 years ago.
“There are complexities associated with technical scale and optimization, but with today’s technology we can build a diverse platform using pre-existing components such as integrated services, even though the new technology trend is shifting back to data centre-based digital architecture.”
A Blend Between Marketplace & Integrated Managed Solutions
Founded in 2019, Vibertron presents itself as a hybrid technology company, providing clients with the opportunity to acquire comprehensive remote work, and consulting solutions. Facilitated by an internal database comprising approximately 1,500 thoroughly vetted specialists from the marketing, sales, and technology consulting industries, Vibertron ensures a high level of expertise and professionalism among its professionals. Notably, the specialists within the database possess a minimum requirement of a Master’s degree or 5-7 years of work experience in their respective fields. This stringent selection process ensures that clients can confidently engage with skilled professionals who possess the necessary qualifications and industry knowledge to deliver exceptional results.
“At Vibertron, we pride ourselves on working with top-tier professionals who exemplify integrity and professionalism. We prioritize building a team that upholds these values and ensures a positive client experience. Trust and excellence are at the core of our interactions, guaranteeing that our clients receive exceptional service every step of the way.” Qadri explained.
“To achieve this, we have created a B2B platform that is a blend between a marketplace and a managed professional solutions with two distinct models – one for one-time service buyers and one for clients looking for managed 360° marketing, sales, and technology solutions.”
Keeping It Simple
As stated on Vibertron’s official website, clients seeking integrated technology, marketing, and sales consultancy services can choose from three distinct plans: MCiHT™ (Technology), MCiM™ (Marketing), and MCiS (Sales). Each plan offers tailored solutions to cater to the specific needs and requirements of businesses in these domains.
“In addition to essential features like a social feed, messaging capabilities, and secure payment infrastructure (currently leveraging Stripe and Bank of America), Vibertron recognizes the importance of embracing emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain. By integrating these cutting-edge technologies, we aim to enhance our platform and deliver innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of our clients.” Qadri said.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Hybrid Consulting Model
In line with its core objective, Vibertron is strategically preparing to implement an AI-based hybrid co-pilot. This advanced technology will assist clients in acquiring integrated solutions and conducting thorough due diligence. By leveraging blockchain technology, Vibertron aims to validate project credentials, enabling clients to confidently engage with top-tier professionals who possess a proven track record of successfully delivering similar work. Throughout the entire process, Vibertron remains fully committed to supporting clients every step of the way, ensuring a seamless and reliable experience.
“Our ultimate objective is to enhance trust within the consulting industry, recognizing the significant value consultants bring in accelerating progress. However, we have observed numerous distortions arising from market inefficiencies, resulting in a widespread lack of confidence in the role of consultants. By addressing these challenges and fostering transparency and reliability, we aim to rebuild trust and establish consultants as valuable assets for achieving business goals.” Qadri explained.
“We firmly believe that an improved consulting industry, potentially operating on a smaller scale, has the potential to serve as an economic engine, fostering accelerated growth within the global economy. By addressing the challenges and enhancing the efficiency of the consulting sector, we can create a conducive environment for rapid economic advancement on a global scale.”
A Unique Niche Between Consulting & Remote Working
Vibertron Consulting adopts a distinctive business model in which internal Project Managers, acting as Client liaisons, oversee and manage the complete technology, marketing, and sales operations of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). These dedicated Project Managers provide real-time monitoring of teams and deliver the utmost level of consulting service in their respective domains, ensuring that businesses receive exceptional support and guidance.
“We have developed our business suites with SMBs in mind. Consider the expenses and commitment involved in hiring full-time staff for technology or marketing roles. We have revolutionized this dynamic by offering business solutions that cost less than employing even a single full-time professional in these fields. This is a key factor that attracts SMB owners to choose our services for managing their entire technology, marketing, or sales operations. Furthermore, our team comprises highly skilled professionals, and the scope of our services is unmatched by any standard, adding to our appeal in the market.” Qadri added.
Presently, Vibertron operates in Europe, the UK, and the US and is actively engaged in securing seed funding for the consulting segment. Furthermore, the company intends to expand its products and workforce in the US, aiming to hire ten new employees by the end of this year, effectively doubling its team size.
Since its inception, the startup has experienced significant growth, progressing from a team of two to fourteen individuals, successfully completing over 650 projects. Additionally, Vibertron has served 75 LCE clients seeking consulting services in the domains of technology, marketing, and sales. Embracing the age-old adage that “cash is king,” Qadri, a staunch proponent, emphasizes the importance of generating revenue at the earliest stages of the business, fostering sustainability and facilitating further development.
“By prioritizing revenue generation, we aim to deliver enhanced value to customers, provide a better quality of life to our employees, and enable investors to recognize the long-term viability and sustainability of our business model.” he said.
“In the current business landscape, startups driven by growth objectives must adhere to fundamental principles such as maintaining healthy cash flow, establishing stable operational and burn rates, and relying on revenue-backed valuations. These foundational principles serve as crucial guidelines for us towards ensuring the long-term viability and success.”
Funding & Growth
Qadri added, “While securing funding remains an ongoing process for us, as it does for many startups, our position as a profitable business enables us to effectively navigate the transitional period between being considered “too early” and reaching the ideal stage of development. This financial stability provides us with the necessary resilience and flexibility to sustain growth and seize opportunities as they arise.”.
Photo credits: Vibertron. Clint Bailey a Senior News Editor at ‘Voice of EU’ as well as co-editor of EU-20 magazine. Have a tip? Send him a DM at firstname.lastname@example.org.