Features Walthamstow

A week in the life of: an architectural designer

A diary of Grafted co-founder Nicole Fassihi from the Waltham Forest Business Network
By Waltham Forest Echo

Co-founders Lemma Redda and Nicole Fassihi (Credit: Grafted)
Co-founders Lemma Redda and Nicole Fassihi (Credit: Grafted)

Grafted is a new architect-led design studio, inspired by Walthamstow’s tradition of makers and creators.

My partner Lemma and I decided to start our own company after the birth of our daughter – it might not mean working less hours but it does mean we can plan the hours we work around her.

The start of most weeks is currently spent in Norwich, working on a kitchen extension and ground floor renovation. Our typical Monday will be spent briefing tradespeople on tasks for the week ahead and running through fabric swatches or paint samples with our clients.

Tuesday is our regular day on-site together so it’s the best day to get big things done. Some of the details in our current design – such as the red-pigmented concrete footings – are totally bespoke so we are producing them in-house to achieve the shape, colour and finish we want. This means recently we’ve spent a lot of time assembling moulds and pouring concrete; with over 70 individual elements, we have a lot to get through!


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On Tuesday night, I head back to Walthamstow so I can take our daughter to nursery, meaning Wednesday and Thursday are my working from home days, where I get most of the finance and admin done. At Grafted, we act as both the architect and the contractor, meaning we don’t have to worry about the design being compromised based on what is easiest or cheapest, while still working within the budget agreed with the client. I manage the money carefully and spend a lot of time researching to find the best people, materials and products for the job.

As well as bigger architectural projects, we also design, fabricate and install fitted furniture. The first step for these smaller projects is always a consultation to find out what our client wants and how the furniture would fit into the rest of the home. Once we have the measurements, Lemma presents different designs and a shortlist of materials and finishes to choose from.

When it is time to make the furniture, we head to the workshop. Lemma programmes and operates the machine that cuts out our design and, depending on the desired finish, I sand and oil or paint the wood. Once it’s done, we’ll install it together.

Find out more about Grafted on their website


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