John Wyer FSGD gives is the inside view of his practice in Bedfordshire, which was established in 1992
What percentage of your work is residential and how much public?
About 95% of our work is residential, although roughly half is for developers. The proportion varies according to the market – during the recession, private clients dominated. At the moment, the development market is very busy.
Is there a practice style?
We do not have a house style. All our projects are a reaction to the site and client, with input from individual designers. We always meet clients for free before we are appointed: I see this as an opportunity to sell the business.
How many people do you employ?
Fifteen. Some of these are related to the construction side of the business. Chris Bowles runs the design and build side and Dan Riddleston runs the construction side. There are eight designers including me; Vicky Wyer and James Smith are the senior designers (both landscape architects). The other key player is Stuart Wallace, who specialises in planting design and procurement. One rising star is Jens Haendele. He studied at LCGD and was a finalist for the SGD Student Award.
What career levels do you employ?
On the construction side, three project directors, two project managers and three administrators. On the design side, we have seven landscape architects and one garden designer.
Do you favour any qualifications?
We appoint on talent and ability rather than qualification. Although I would say that we favour degree achievement, it is certainly not a prerequisite.
What software do you use?
We use SketchUp, Photoshop/CS and AutoCAD all the time. We are also increasingly using InDesign.
Do you offer training?
We run a constant process of education and CPD. We have monthly sessions and staff also go on training when needed – recent examples include CDM update, health and safety training. We also offer mentorship to staff who wish to take the Landscape Institute Pathway to Chartership.
What do you look for in a recruit?
Enthusiasm, a real talent for design and a practical turn of mind.
How do you envisage the practice growing in the next five years?
I see more expansion in the public realm side of the business in particular, as well as more larger country gardens.
What’s the best part of working at Bowles & Wyer?
We are a family. It is a great place to work – fun, inspiring, challenging. Everyone is focused on quality. We encourage designers to get involved and make decisions. However, the design is a very collaborative process and ideas are always bounced around the office.
Bowles & Wyer, Unit 5, Tunnel Way, Pitstone, Nr. Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9GJ Tel: 01296 662439. www.bowleswyer.co.uk