A Staffordshire engineering company with its roots in the automotive sector is branching out into consumer products thanks to a matchmaking deal.
Matrix Composites of Newcastle- under- Lyme designs and engineers specialist components for the car industry with MG Rover among its clients.
But now the firm is producing furniture for the consumer market after teaming up with Cheshire design business Raffo Insight.
Matrix was introduced to Raffo by Different by Design, a £2.7 million project aimed at encouraging businesses in Staffordshire to make better use of world-class design.
The company wanted a new direction for its capability to create bespoke solutions using state-of-the-art composite materials and tooling.
The three-year project will fund 50 design-led innovations to market-ready prototype stage and give companies in the region access to the country's top designers.
Matrix Composites recognised its dependence on the motor industry was a potential business risk.
It makes body and interior panels and spare wheel carriers from carbon fibres and polyurethane for a range of manufacturers, but wanted to branch out.
The company wanted to transfer its skills to the consumer market, but recognised it needed consumer design expertise to complement a highly developed industrial capability.
The company has developed a carbon fibre coffee table with the help of Raffo Insight which will be the first consumer product for Matrix to market under its own brand.
Martin Meir, managing director of Matrix, said that Raffo recognised the opportunity to use industrial materials to create a new range of products for the company.
He said: "The coffee table fulfils our ambition to use our product design skills to enter a new market and we have managed to do this though our collaboration with Different by Design and Raffo Insight."
Different by Design director Bruce Wood said: "The table is a beautiful piece of furniture. It is both durable and highly contemporary.
"By harnessing a material like carbon fibre it benefits from being integrally strong, yet light and easily transportable.
"It is tremendous that a Staffordshire company is using design and innovation in this way. Hopefully we will have played a part in opening up a new chapter in Matrix's life."
Matrix is one of the 40 companies which have been helped by Different by Design so far, which as well as finding suitable design studios to produce new products, can also supply up to £30,000 in matched funding. It was founded in 1987 with key customers including Bentley Motors and Gibbs Aquada.
Raffo Insight is based in Hooton, Cheshire. Different by Design is funded by AWM and facilitated by Staffordshire University.