This year sees Custom Consoles commemorating its 25th anniversary as an internationally active producer of broadcast control room desks and studio furniture. Founded in 1996 by its present managing director, Neil Reed, and business director Graham Buchanan, the company operates as an independent business with full development and manufacturing facilities at its Leighton Buzzard, UK, headquarters.
“Our aim right from the start was to offer robust, operator-friendly and attractively styled alternatives to tailor-made technical furniture, reducing costs and accelerating delivery times,” recalls Neil Reed. “We knew from our own background in systems integration that control desks must be robust enough to last at least the lifetime of the studio suite itself – typically five to seven years before the next major upgrade. In practice, many of our desks have been in service far longer than that. Key design factors include easy access for equipment installation, good ergonomics for users working long shifts and efficient ventilation.”
“Custom Consoles’ first standard design was the System One graphics desk and side-table,” adds Graham Buchanan. “That was followed in 2000 by the motorised height-adjustable System Two. In 2004 we introduced M-Desk, which allowed the desktop height to be adjusted using a telescopic crank handle. Module-R, which followed in 2005, has proved to be the most successful development in our history. It gives customers the freedom to specify complete furniture configurations from a nominally standard range of desk and pod components. In 2006 we added the Media Wall range of video and loudspeaker display mounts, again modular to match any size and scale, for control rooms, presentation suites and studio backdrops.”
Custom Consoles continued to expand its product range, including the SteelBase heavy-duty desk which was developed to meet the demand for ultra-robust furniture in environments such as the oil and gas industry. Desks from this and the equally robust but more compact SteelBase Lite series are being used in many locations, notably at CERN in Switzerland.
“2013 saw the introduction of the EditOne flat-pack post-production suite desk, followed in 2015 by the free-standing single-column Media-Post monitor support,” says sales manager Gary Fuller. “In 2017 we added the EditOne-Radio desk, which is designed for use in radio interview suites, presentation studios and voiceover booths. In project terms, one of our largest in recent years was a commission from Broadcast Center Europe to provide over 50 desks for one of Europe’s most active broadcast media centres – RTL City in Luxembourg. BCE made a careful study of the available furniture products before selecting Module-R and EditOne desks. They were keen to source all their desks from a single supplier to keep the task of equipment installation and wiring as consistent as possible. It was also a logical decision in terms of efficiency, future maintenance and unified visual styling. Samples were sent for evaluation and we also provided constructive ideas based on the high degree of design flexibility made possible by combining elements within the Module-R product range.”
Coming up to date, 2020 saw the introduction of the Operator Safety Screen. Most technical control rooms and edit suites are well air-conditioned, but Covid-19 raised health and safety concerns to a significantly higher level. The Operator Safety Screen fits all Custom Consoles desks and those manufactured by other furniture companies. Customers to date include Al Jazeera, Amazon Prime, BBC Studioworks, BETV, CJP, Dega, Farnborough College, Gravity Media, IMG, Input Media, ITN, ITV, One Ten Productions, QVC, Racing UK, Solenis, STV, STV North and TimeLine.
The company’s focus on innovation continues, most recently with an ergonomic upgrade and new colour style for the EditOne workstation which was announced in January 2021.