What makes Be-kin different from other interior design studios is its focus on mental wellbeing. Founded by London-based designer Wren Loucks in January 2020, the studio works with both individuals and companies across the UK.
“The name Be-kin plays on the phrase ‘beacon of light’ and ‘kin’, which means family. I wanted it to communicate the aim of creating spaces for people, families and businesses to thrive,” says Wren, 32. She uses Starling to manage her business finances.
Using design to boost mental wellbeing
Wren first became interested in mental wellbeing as a university student in Canada, her country of origin. Alongside her studies in Fine Art & Art History, she volunteered at local and national mental health organisations. Part of her role involved voicing the views of young people so that their needs could influence how the organisations worked.
“I heard first-hand how many found hospital spaces intimidating, and how this became a barrier for accessing health services. I started to unpick how different spaces play a role in everyone’s wellbeing,” she says.
As part of her design process, she works with clients to understand their sensory profile. “Together, we consider and test how they’re affected by different sensory landscapes, including acoustics, lighting and texture. This moves deeper than just the visual senses, and empowers the clients and myself to create a space that really supports how they would like to feel. For example, if they find loud noises stressful when working, we will make sure the office spaces have lots of soft upholstery and potentially acoustic panels.” Be-kin clients include retailers and restaurants, as well as individual property owners.
Wren has been designing interiors for around ten years, including a role as Head of Design at Motionspot, a design consultancy that focuses on making spaces accessible for all, especially for people with disabilities.
Accessibility continues to be a priority for Wren. She also prioritises sustainable and ethical practices. “I’m really picky about who and what I work with. For example, if I commission a rug, I want to know that the weavers are being taken care of.” She also avoids waste where possible by incorporating client’s existing furniture into designs, or upcycling or restoring antiques.
A bank for start-up businesses
Wren joined Starling as a business customer at the very start of Be-kin. “Not having to pay monthly fees is so helpful when you’re starting out,” she says. “I also thought international transfers would be useful when buying goods from overseas. I can do all transfers very easily by logging in to the app - it’s very straightforward.” Wren currently works with four freelancers, who she can pay quickly and easily through the app.
For her bookkeeping, she uses Xero, online accounting software available in the Starling Business Marketplace. “It’s just easy. I can do all my reports through Xero, reconcile payments and look at my balance.”
The other feature of Starling she particularly likes is our 24/7 Customer Service, available through live chat, phone or via email. “Customer Service is really easy and supportive.”