Growing up, imondi founder Robin Dell was always drawn to the world of design. His father worked in the fashion industry and his mother in interior design. He knew that deep within he had a passion for the field, but it wasn’t until 2006 that it manifested itself in the space of reclaimed wood flooring.
Dell attended Westminster School before attending the London School of Economics and the SDA Bocconi School of Management. While participating in an exchange program in Shanghai in 1999 during his master’s studies, he fell in love with the region and realized the possibilities it offered. Dell was involved in a variety of ventures before that fateful day when a client back home in London helped him realize the business possibilities of wood flooring.
“It has been nearly 20 years now that I’ve been working with wood and what amazes me is how many people you speak to in this industry use the word ‘passion’ to describe their work and what they do. I feel incredibly lucky to have found this industry,” said Dell. “The materials we get to work with on a daily basis are so varied and exciting. From wood rescued from old boats and barns to even poles from the Venetian lagoons. Our passion for design and for working with wood inspires us to produce innovative, one-of-a-kind floors that aim to highlight the material from which they are derived.”
He continued, “The greatest satisfaction probably comes from those emails where a distributor sends a photo of an incredible project where our wood has been used in a way I’d never thought of before, or could never have even imagined. The whole team feels proud to be a part of that – the whole journey blows me away.”
One of those recent projects was the Beef & Liberty restaurant installation located in the Ka Wah Centre, in the heart of the French Concession in Shanghai, China. The team at imondi worked closely with both the restaurant chain and the designer, AIM Architecture, to customize a two-layer engineered, 5” wide, reclaimed oak chevron plank. Two thousand square feet of flooring was manufactured and custom-stained in the mill in three different tones; which were then mix-installed together.
“We focus on hand-crafted and sustainable slab rescue. This particular project uses oak estimated to have been harvested toward the turn of the 19th century, and then used in the construction of early barns and mills throughout the United States. The material was salvaged and given a second life by the imondi team,” said Dell.
The floor was prefinished in the mill using Loba 2K. The inspiration for the mixed-tone chevron pattern used in this project came from Nike’s European and Asian campuses that imondi worked on in 2014 and 2015 as part of Nike’s commitment to source from vendors focused on the environment and sustainability. The project took six months from specification to installation.
This project was unique for the company, as Dell shares that traditionally the finished product is more rustic in nature. “We’re most famous for our authentic reclaimed look where we leave the wood raw, and you can see the hundreds of years of age.”
He shares that a recent private residence installation in the Neve Tzedek district of Tel Aviv, Israel, is a shining example. This project, by Aviram Kushmirski Interior Design, was completed using two-layer engineered, European reclaimed oak planks, in 5-12” mixed width plank format. The floor was prefinished in the mill using Osmo wax oil. The project took three months from the distributor’s order confirmation and manufacturing through to supply and install.
“Our materials are truly processed the old fashioned way; there’s a lot of handwork. Many of the owners of the more modern flooring factories and sawmills are shocked when they visit our plant, and they see how much we’re doing by hand,” said Dell. “You have to with this wood. Any metal is removed by hand, and sometimes we even sand and finish by hand; to preserve the beautiful time-worn texture on the surface. We have about 150 dedicated workers whose only job is taking these historical old timbers and crafting them into ‘new’ prefinished and boxed, easy-to-install reclaimed flooring or wall cladding.”
The company is now one of the largest manufacturers of reclaimed flooring in Asia with offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and The Netherlands. Through their distributors, imondi has provided flooring for a number of notable clients including work with a global coffee chain in several regions, the Louis Vuitton hotel in the Maldives, Jamie Oliver’s restaurants, and many of the world’s largest fashion retailers. The company has outgrown five offices and two factories and now operates a 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility.
“We have a long-term working relationship with distributors all over the world; especially those who put importance on sustainability, quality, design and a unique story behind the products with which they work,” said Dell. “The culmination of imondi’s obsessive focus on sustainability is our range of reclaimed wood flooring, which is both FSC-certified and