Bespoke Convertible Bedroom Furniture for Iona Abbey

Location: Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona

Client: The Iona Community

Type: Bespoke Furniture

Status: Completed February 2016


Manufacturer: Elmwood Projects (Glasgow)

Installation: TSL Contractors (Mull)

Roots are currently leading a major renovation project at Iona Abbey.

Included within the scope of the renovation works are around 30 bedrooms used by guests of The Iona Community who travel from all over the world to attend religious retreats at the Abbey.

The renovation project is focused on improving the accessibility of residential facilities, elevating the quality of space and enhancing the sustainability of the facilities by improving functionality and thermal performance of facilities.

The images above show a prototype bedroom which was constructed for visitors to test a new design proposal before it is rolled out across all bedrooms. The bedroom itself has been stripped back to the bare structure and insulated with sheep's wool to improve heat retention in the room.

The brief for the renovation stipulated that all bunk beds should to be omitted from the building and replaced with more accessible single beds.  In addition to this, we were to retain the same number of available bed spaces and incorporate storage solutions that help to 'de-clutter' the rooms and enhance the visitor experience.

In addition to this we were asked to design bespoke furniture that would convert from a single bed to a private desk for studying.  This would enhance the functionality of the room; providing workspace for academics who may stay at the Abbey in the off-season.

The client was also eager that reclaimed timber from donated church pews should be a prominent feature in the finished design.  This would allow congregations across Scotland to contribute materials towards the project.

The furniture we designed can be converted from a bed to a desk and all constituent parts, including the mattress, can be stowed within the same room (another stipulation of the brief).  A key feature of the design is a tall headboard with glazed privacy screen.  The headboard conceals hanging space for clothes and a recess with reading light and shelves.  The screen and wall panels help to support a removable desktop and demountable bed frame.  Meanwhile, under the bed is a storage unit provides private drawers for smaller personal belongings.  

The reclaimed timber from donated church pews is a defining feature of the design used to frame and delineate key features in the furniture.  The muted grey tones of the furniture as a whole reference the slate and stone of the Abbey whilst allowing the natural warmth of the pew timber to  stand out and be admired.