Customers that love Eskimo are often, very kindly, stating that we are “so Eskimo”. You may or may not have heard of Eskimo Radiators – Since 2001, we’ve never really shouted the loudest. I know that this will make a lot of you twitch uncomfortably. But there’s more to it. We are simply in love with what we do. Sure, like all good love stories, we want to shout about it and we absolutely must be successful – however, the heart of Eskimo is our compass. We will always be proud of the good stuff – being leaders of heating design & innovation – design is who we are, but here’s a little bit about us to perhaps reveal why we are happy to be quietly great at what we do.
When Phil Ward began Eskimo he was more than driven and enthusiastic about what he was about to create. This wasn’t just a youthful, whimsical notion born of a desire to be creative. Phil had been running the family engineering business and his expertise, along with an experience in a listed building, compelled him to ask some pretty obvious questions. Such as; why on earth are radiators so ugly, often dysfunctionally inefficient? Importantly why would radiators and rails NOT be considered, or designed to be, beautiful pieces of interior design? The twinkle in his youthful eyes evolved into Eskimo, after a happy (albeit disappointing) demise a headline act at Phil’s brother Mike’s music management company – The headline act was named Esquimeau. Phil was hunting for a name with abstract associations to hot and cold, but most importantly, to graphical eyes at least, a name that looked good in print. A logotype with an alluring typographical form and a brand name that rolled off of the tongue. Subsequently, Eskimo was kindly passed on through the Ward family, proving once and for all that every name deserves a second chance. In 2002, in their New Year’s round-up of the previous year – the Guardian described Eskimo’s arrival as “the year radiators finally became cool” – never has a truer word been spoken because doing something you love emanates cool. We then needed an explanatory companion in the form of a strapline. Immediately describing what we do whilst reflecting our Company tonality and personality. LOVE MAKING HEAT has a dual message that is still adored today. Eskimo really DO love making heat. Also, the performance of our heat outputs are so joyously high, that one can happily become naked in the name of love.
I remember at the time Phil and I were mad about everything to do with product design and interior design. Before we found our life partners, created families, and forgot how to dance, all we cared about was dancing and fabulously aesthetical things, on a full-time basis. As a graphic designer back then, I was lucky enough to work with Jam Design & Communications and the amazingly innovative, abundantly creative gang there. We were responsible for the branding and creative experiential presentation of 100% Design in September 2002. I popped along to the Eskimo pod to see my pals. Their exhibition display could only be described as a pod. Retro in style with curved and clean lines everywhere – no shell schemes with these guys. And I loved what Phil and Ed were presenting. Eskimo radiators were clever and oh so pleasing to look at. Noone had seen good-looking radiators before, let alone ones that actually worked how they said that they worked. This was exciting! To be honest, I never thought I would end up being quite so immersed in radiators 13 years later and talk about them at parties! What was alluring though, was why Phil was beginning this journey with a traditionally perceived un-sexy bit of product design?
The Company’s ethos remains – passionately dedicated to saving the world from the ugly and impractical saboteurs of interior design. We never waiver from why we do what we do. Eskimo radiators must be good looking, they must make you desire and actually care about such things – seeing radiators and towel rails in a different light for the first time – that’s what really pleases us. But they must must must work incredibly well, otherwise, we are lazy versions of who we profess to be. Never form over function, we know that all good designers belive in this of course, but never ever taking the easy solution to market. Our authenticity is important to us, to everyone that works at Eskimo. We could never passionately ‘wobble’ on about our radiators if we didn’t truly believe in them. So you can trust (and trust is everything with brands), that an Eskimo product is designed with innovative engineering in mind – what we say about our products, whether performance or design, is what you will get.
The old saying ‘quality, not quantity’ is relevant to us. We have got a small, but very talented and experienced team internally. Externally too. We call them ‘Eskimo Experts’ but they are essentially highly skilled, carefully selected, equally as passionate, companies across the UK – from Capisco in East London who hand patinate metals all day with such beauty – the only ones in the Country. To an experienced, highly skilled cabinetry veneer team Hillside up in Bolton and our artists One LBJ up in Coventry who create our sublimation print finishes. Not to mention our extended family at Keihan Systems in Worcestershire who fascinate us with their clever work with all that is metal. We all believe in the same thing, beautiful robust products. This means that throughout the entire journey of our customers’ purchase, and beyond, you have our undivided attention (to detail). And it’s all done in the UK, so you can feel good about your Global Footprint.
That allows us to segway into looking beyond Britain – BREXIT – let’s talk about that shall we?
Since we first started exporting radiators in 2002, our trade with the EU has constituted something between 25 & 45% of our business annually, so it’s not only vital – it is something that we take great professional pride in. We continue to develop products with the EU market firmly in mind – we are soon to be launching Electropolis, our beautiful new mid-range electrical heater with smart controls that provide individual control at each radiator along with plug and play functionality with all of Delta Dore’s home automation suite of products. Beyond this, we are developing low-carbon heating technologies with excellent engineering that look set to revolutionise the way we heat our homes, hotels, and workplaces.
For the record, Brexit is an outcome that Eskimo’s directors and shareholders profoundly regret. As an outward-facing, dynamic design company with both UK and French investors, we draw our inspiration from many sources. We firmly believe that, in order to keep designing the world’s most beautiful radiators and towel warmers, we need to remain open to as broad a range of influences as we can. We acknowledge the influence of many of the great European design movements of the 20th century on our work; we are in many ways a combination of these design movements with a particularly British perspective and are proud of both these elements within the Eskimo character. We don’t believe that the apparent rejection of partnership and the denial of progress intrinsic to Brexit reflects this character and so we intend to increase our efforts to expand our European networks and live up to the values we believe in. Eskimo is, and always will be, at the forefront of European heating design. By no way remiss of the United Kingdom, after all, it’s not easy to design & manufacture everything in the UK but it’s how we wanted Eskimo to be known. A very good British Brand. It took us a good while but we eventually opened the doors to our own factory, in Birmingham where Phil originally hails, back in November 2017.
Being ourselves always ignites a potent mix of thrill and fear doesn’t it? So we will continue to shut out the noise and keep designing beautiful radiators and towel rails because we love it! We are genuinely flattered by those who copy us, (after all, nothing is truly original right? You’ll spot our love of Daniel Libeskind, Frank Lloyd Wright, Miles Van Der Rohe, and a whole bunch of our contemporaries in there). And we listen, no matter if what we hear is uncomfortable. That’s how we grow, change, and improve. If we say we are the World’s best radiators, we can’t be resting on our pipe centres! And if anyone should want to shout about us, we’ll be dancing badly in the backgroud.