Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 07:00

Around the world in 80 trades: Colin Bone of Kettle Collective

Kettle Collective, an architectural design agency, has been offering its services since 2012 when the firm was founded by business partners Tony Kettle and Colin Bone. Now the firm exports its design work to Dubai, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Beirut, Bahrain, Moscow and St Petersburg, with big plans for the future. BQ caught up with Colin Bone to find out more…

Kettle Collective

Kettle Collective

Kettle Collective was launched in October 2012 by Tony Kettle and Colin Bone.

The pair had previously worked together at RMJM where Tony was global design principal and Colin was managing principal of Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

In early 2012, the pair decided to come together to set up what they describe as a “boutique studio” providing “best-in-class” design on an international scale from a studio in Edinburgh.

“Tony and I have been working in overseas markets for over 15 years therefore selling overseas was the natural thing to do, explains Colin.

“Our business plan was to work in overseas markets and to develop these as we grow. We are currently exporting our design mainly to the Middle East (Dubai, Oman, Saudi, Beirut and Bahrain). “We are also working in St Petersburg and Moscow in Russia.”

In the early days of beginning to export, the pair received no help. “When we said that we were a start-up looking to work in the Middle East and Russia we were usually advised against it.”

However, Colin offers his own advice for any entrepreneurs looking to begin their own exporting venture: “Make sure you do your homework about where you want to work. Spend time there and meet as many people as possible and discuss what you want to do with them.

“That way you will get many different views and perspectives and you will start with your eyes open to all the hurdles. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

“You are better knowing about the pitfalls and issues before they happen and knowing how to deal with them.”

For the team at Kettle Collective, exporting is the same as working at home, so long as you have done your homework and know your clients. “It is exciting to work in different countries and with different cultures and we enjoy the diverse work that we do,” says Colin.

But, like with any business, it isn’t without its challenges too. “We are always coming across different challenges, but that is what makes exporting our services enjoyable, every day if different to the next.

“We have been working within the countries we work for many years so we are fully conversant with the etiquette and culture and exchange rates are part of our every day business.

“When working in the Middle East everything is done in English therefore very rarely does language become a problem. It is a very different proposition in Russia. Nothing is done in English and we have become very good at talking through translators.

“We also have a very international team with a number of Russian speakers and Arabic speakers so if anything comes in and needs translating we can do this very quickly.”

After a successful four years in business, Kettle Collective aim to continue on the path of steady growth, continuing to develop the markets they are working in with a specific focus on Asia and the US in 2017.

“Both markets we have worked in previously as well and we are keen to explore them again.”




Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the Scottish Export Awards, in association with Scottish Enterprise, are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.

To nominate or book your ticket for the awards, click here.


The PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.

Click here to nominate and for event information.