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The world stage

Words by Dan Warden

The Cornish entrepreneurial spirit continues to earn its place at the top of the international podium.

If we’ve learned one thing since launching DRIFT, it is that Cornwall is home to some of the world’s most inspiring and innovative brands and businesses. In a way it always has been, with stories of invention and world-leading industry defining centuries of Cornish history. But as we’ve published each volume of DRIFT, it’s become clear that ‘history’ is perhaps the wrong word. We have been fortunate enough to speak to some of the UK’s finest brands and creative individuals (based in Cornwall), whose work in diverse fields and industries continues to be recognised around the world, in some cases winning prestigious international awards. As a case in point, we need only look to the success of Cornish property agents, Rohrs and Rowe, and that of the interior design experts at Iroka; specifically, their recent success at the International Property Awards.

Rohrs and Rowe, voted Best Estate Agency in Cornwall

For regular readers, these two impressive Cornish firms may well be familiar. Rohrs and Rowe have graced the property pages of DRIFT since its launch, and we’ve featured Iroka time and time again for their blend of luxury, simplicity and comfort that so well suits the ultimate seaside lifestyle.

Firstly I speak with Martyn Rohrs and Matthew Rowe, whose drive to do things differently has, it’s fair to say, set them apart in the world of Cornish real estate. At this year’s awards, they were awarded ‘Best Estate Agency in Cornwall’, which is impressive by any measure. Perhaps more impressive, as Martyn explains, is that “this is our third time of winning.”

“We are especially proud to have been acknowledged for our team’s hard work this year,” continues Matthew, “in what has been one of the most trying times in recent history. To have been consistently recognised for our efforts is very rewarding and drives us on to continue to innovate, so that we are always fresh and ahead of the curve.”

Interested to learn more, I ask what, in their opinion, has set them apart from other agencies. “Our marketing has set a whole new bench mark in terms of quality and ingenuity for the property market,” Martyn explains. “Buyers and sellers love the photography with wonderful drone images and exceptional interiors that really provide the essence of our wonderful properties.” That’s a key point; photography, these days, has never been more important, as more and more of us ‘buy with our eyes’. Of course there is more to selling a property than visual appeal, but as most of us will agree, first impressions are paramount, perhaps never more so than when searching for a new home. Also important, is Martyn’s mention of “exceptional interiors”…

Since its inception in 2005, Iroka Interiors has gained a national reputation as ‘the South West’s Interior Designer’, yet there are strangely few who know everything that the team has to offer. Each of Iroka’s designs is organic and tailored to give each client a unique and personalised experience. Their list of services can be applied to a multitude of different projects too, whether you’re finishing a new build from top to bottom, completely redesigning your home, or simply giving a single room a makeover. It could be your ‘forever’ home, or a holiday home by the sea; having designed and furnished some of the most exciting properties in the south west since 2005, Iroka has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in helping clients to achieve their dream homes, gain a five-star finish on their holiday lets, and renovate properties for re-sale. So it’s no surprise that the team, led by Managing Director, Luke Weller, have joined Rohrs and Rowe as winners at the International Property Awards.

Alongside partners Parc Owles Design and Development, Iroka won ‘Best Residential Interior Private Residence’ – recognition for their incredible work at a property located in St Ives, one of Cornwall’s most highly sought after towns. Set over four storeys with vast open living spaces, the property features extensive landscaped gardens and ultra-contemporary high-end interiors; interiors which, coupled with the locale, would ultimately clinch this year’s award.

As Cornwall continues to receive growing recognition on the international stage, particularly in the world of property and interior design, I’m interested to hear from Megan Sandall, one of Iroka’s Senior Interior Designers, about whether we can expect this trend to continue. “Properties in Cornwall are currently selling faster than ever,” she says. “Many of these luxury homes take pride of place in enviable locations with sea views, so they tick many boxes for buyers in the second home market.” Add to that the effects of a global pandemic, which Megan says “has changed people’s perception of the home with many valuing time spent outdoors in the natural environment”, and the result is an increased drive in property sales throughout Cornwall.

Matthew and Martyn agree, but take it a step further, suggesting that Cornwall has, and perhaps always will be fertile ground for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. “Cornwall has always attracted people who don’t want to be just the norm, maybe just a little alternative,” says Matthew. Referring to historic inventions that originate in Cornwall, from the steam engines of the mining era, to renewable energy technologies, he concludes that “innovation is in our DNA, and very much a Cornish way of thinking.”

As we look to the future then, it’s a fair assumption that Cornwall will continue to stand at the forefront of worldwide innovation. In this volume of DRIFT alone we have inspiring tales from some incredible independent brands and businesses at the forefront of sustainable production – stood with the vanguard in the fight for a brighter, greener future. Add to that the fact that Rohrs and Rowe and Iroka have each secured prestigious awards in their own respective fields, and it’s fair to say that the Cornish spirit – and its drive to set global standards across myriad fields and industries – has never been more potent.


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