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Autumn 2013

Idea + Industry Design and Manufacturing Brave New World Digital Fabrication Sustainable Innovation RecopolTM Scrapbook: Nick Rennie

AUD$11.95 NZ$14.50

INSPIRATION / IDEATION / DESIGN / INNOVATION / INDUSTRY


Check stock online at charlesparsonsinteriors.com



editors’ letter W

elcome to your new Furnishing International, the Australian journal of furniture fabrication and design. Over recent months we’ve been working to re-engineer and re-design the magazine you are holding to offer an authoritative voice within the furniture sector. We are here to advocate for smarter industry, more entrepreneurship, stronger links between industry and design, and to build a better understanding of the forces shaping the industry and design practice. Over the coming issues we plan to look deeply at product design and production, linking with aligned sectors such as fabrication, sustainability, construction, retail, manufacturing, and R&D to explore best practice today for tomorrows needs. Our new direction will deepen the traditional position of a design and product magazine by being ‘process-led’ focusing both on inputs (ideas, thinking, insight, skills, innovation) and outputs (products, services, objects). We put forward the proposition that investing in design skills and knowledge is a central pillar to successful competitiveness for this industry. But design alone cannot solve all our problems. Industry embodies myriad skills and capabilities that must be integrated within this proposition so that together, Australia’s creative community, makers and manufacturers can collaborate and compete together. We are an optimistic bunch and we interpret future challenges as opportunities for innovation and new business mindsets. Furnishing International will offer a much needed voice in Australia’s furnishing industry. Hopefully you will see that there is a gap here to be filled and join with us on our journey.

...design alone cannot solve all our problems. Industry embodies myriad skills and capabilities that must be integrated within this proposition Ewan McEoin and Linda Cheng


Exquisite Exquisite Exquisite inin every in every every facet. facet. facet. Exquisite Exquisite Exquisite in in ogni ogni ogni sfaccettatura. sfaccettatura. sfaccettatura. Exquisite Exquisite inin in every every facet. facet. Exquisite Exquisite in ogni ogni sfaccettatura. sfaccettatura. Exquisite Exquisite Exquisite ininin every in every every facet. facet. facet. Exquisite Exquisite Exquisite in in ogni in ogni ogni sfaccettatura. sfaccettatura. sfaccettatura.

LuxorLuxor Oval Luxor Oval Oval Crystal Crystal 24%Crystal PbO 24% PbO 24% PbO Luxor Luxor Oval Oval CrystalCrystal 24% PbO 24% PbO LuxorLuxor Oval Luxor Oval Oval Crystal Crystal 24%Crystal PbO 24% PbO 24% PbO

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Contents 12

Review

We take a broad sweep of the endless possibilities in design. We showcase what we know design to be and challenge some perceptions of what design is‌

41 Idea + Industry = What kind of future will the Australian furniture industry have? We speak to eight industry experts for their opinions on how the industry can innovate through embracing design.

66 Industry News Cover image: Wharington RecopolTM shells. Photography & Art direction: Mark Rudge & Ty Layton at Change Creative

70 New Products

Autumn 2013

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Capacity Against the Grain Groovemark is turning their previous speaker and boom box manufacturing capacity into furniture making.

A Brave New World New advancements in robot technology are paving the way for a future in digital fabrication.

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Material Out of the Shell Wharington is taking plastic waste and recycling it into eco-friendly shells for upholstered furniture.

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Talking Business With Charles Parsons Interiors and Interiors Online.

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Shelf-life Designer Nick Rennie shares his inspirations, influences and most idolised possessions.


Celebrating 25 years of design excellence Three days, one location, 10,000 design professionals. You know the designEX story. Welcome to the next chapter. Original format. New thinking. Rediscover designEX from 30 May to 1 June in Melbourne.

Visit www.designex.info for more.

THE DESIGN EXPERIENCE DESIGNE 25 Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

30.05 – 01.06.2013


Founder/Publisher Peter Zapris peter@furnishinginternational.com Editor-in-Chief Ewan McEoin editor@furnishinginternational.com Deputy Editor/Art Director Linda Cheng editor@furnishinginternational.com Graphic Design Change Creative (Phillips Hentri) mail@changecreative.com.au Printing Ellikon – Print • People • Planet ellikon.com.au Contributors Andrew Barcham, Scottie Cameron, Change Creative (Ty Layton, Mark Rudge), Grant Hancock Contributing Sub-Editor Alexis Drevikovsky General Manager George Iliadis george@furnishinginternational.com Subscriptions Manager Natalie Tshaikiwksy subscriptions@furnishinginternational.com Advertising Enquiries George Iliadis Phone: (+61 3) 9417 9399 Fax: (+61 3) 9417 3981
 Mobile: (+61) 400 519 218 george@furnishinginternational.com Ellikon Publishing 384 George Street
 Fitzroy, VIC 3065
 Australia furnishinginternational.com Furnishing International the exclusive Australasian member of:

Furnishing International accepts freelance contributions; however there is no guarantee that unsolicited manuscripts, artwork or photographs will be used or returned. The entire contents of Furnishing International are copyright and may not be reproduced in any form, either in whole or in part, without written permission from the publisher. While the publisher makes every effort to be accurate regarding the publication of advertisements, it should be noted that Furnishing International does not endorse any advertised product or service. Viewpoints and opinions expressed in Furnishing International are those of the authors. The publisher accepts no responsibility for the information supplied or changes subsequent to the date of publication. Furnishing International is printed at a ISO 9001 Quality Accredited and ISO 14001 Certified green print facility and on paper sourced from sustainable forests. The Publisher of Furnishing International promotes environmentally responsible, socially equitable and economically sustainable practices.


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REVIEW


Review

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Design is… Wherever you look, design is all around us. It’s an undercurrent that flows through every part of our lives, not just in furniture. It’s not just about the end product, but the ideas, the processes, the creative journeys and the narratives.

Clockwise from top left: Rocking Stool by Mariana Aguila; ‘Near the Edge of the World’ by Jacob Hashimoto; DOMOTEX2013; 1 Million Times Clock by Humans Since 1982; Dome Stool by Studio Toer; A-joint mini by Henry Wilson; NORM Bath Collection from Menu; Resident Collection 2; Hotello by Das Konzept; Morse Code Love Blanket by Holly Berry; Geo Carved Rug by Ella Doran for Woven Ground; Hood by Form Us With Love; Analogia Project.

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REVIEW

...cutting edge

7XSTooL Raw timber stools were produced in a twicedaily performance of a pas de deux between a tree trunk and industrial robot with a chainsaw arm. 7Xstool is a collaboration between Tibor Weissmahr who designed the stool and Tom Pawlofsky developed its production process. The robot is programmed to make cuts within millimetre precision, leaving scrap free results. 7Xstool was presented as part of Kkaarrlls exhibition in partnership with Echtward at 2013 Interior Design Week in Cologne. kkaarrlls.com

Autumn Issue 2013


REED GIFT FAIR

BEST NEW PRODUCT February 2013 Melbourne

REED GIFT FAIR

BEST NEW PRODUCT September 2011 Sydney

Flameless Candles Voted Best New Product February 2013

Make your mark on the best new product “Being a leader in our industry, we knew we had to find a really innovative product to give our suppliers for Christmas that would reflect our brand status. The product was stunning and the service we received from the company was attentive and personal. We chose to have our logo discreetly embossed on the candle and our own brand on the packaging. The cost was within budget, and the process from order to inception was seamless, efficient and enjoyable. We approved production on the first sample presented and delivery was on time. Most importantly, our clients were thrilled with their gift and we were able to shine the light on our brand, no pun intended.� Mark Lennox - Bekaert Textiles Australia

The Most Realistic Flameless Wax Candles in the World


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REVIEW

…finding inspiration 1

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1. SCEnT oF LIGHT Diego Vencato and Marco Merendi wafted into the world of perfumery to find inspiration for their Scent of Light range of evocative table lamps. The design rethinks the concept of light as a fragrance, distilling it into distinctively shaped glass bulbs. diego-vencato.com | marcomerendi.it 2. LIkE PAPER Design duo Miriam Aust and Sebastian Amelung create a collection of lamps inspired by the characteristics of paper. Like Paper lamps are actually made of slewed concrete which mimics the paper’s surfaces, kinks and creases. dua-collection.com 3. TILT Tilt is a collapsible clothes rack created by German designer Tina Schmid made of rods and joints. The hanger rotates outwards taking inspiration from graphical illusions to create a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional object. tina-schmid.de

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REVIEW

…making time fly

GRAnDFATHER knITTInG CLoCk Designed by Siren Elise Wilhelmsen, this clock is turning the passing of time into a tangible wearable product. With every passing hour, the clock knits one stitch and in a year, a two-metre long scarf is completed. sirenelisewilhelmsen.com

Autumn Issue 2013


www.interiorsonline.com.au


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REVIEW

1. 5 PLATonIC obJECTS New York architect and designer Christian Wassmann derives his exhibition from his obsession with geometric beauty. The pillow, stool, table, lamp and vase are based on a series of symmetrical geometric shapes with 4, 6, 8, 12, and 20 faces respectively.

2. CoLouR GLASS Scholten & Baijings’ range for HAY emerged from the studio’s experimentations in folding techniques. From initial paper models, this exquisite collection of glassware evolved, carrying the hallmarks of its development process. The black and gold lines express the taped seams of earlier permutations.

christianwassmann.com

3. CAnEVAS Belgian designer Charlotte Lancelot takes the theme of crosses and pixels and turns it into many variations for her collection of rugs, poufs, and cushions for Gandia Blasco. gan-rugs.com

scholtenbaijings.com

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…variations on a theme

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REVIEW

…packing it in

ARARA nÔMADE A wardrobe solution by Brazilian designers André Pedrini and Ricardo Freisleben that completely dismantles and packs away into its own suitcase. Even the pieces of the suitcase become shelves and draws for the flatpack wardrobe. oboio.com

Autumn Issue 2013


MORE THAN JUST FABRIC Profile Fabrics is devoted in sourcing high quality fabrics at affordable prices. We are proud to offer our clients personal customer service and to guide them in choosing the right fabrics for the right application.

QUALITY FABRICS SINCE 1996 Profile Fabrics has successfully been supplying the domestic market for over 16 years. With the right product we are slowly entering the commercial and decorative markets. Please stay tuned for more information.

FABRIC RANGE Profile Fabrics goal is to try and cover all areas of design. Our fabric library consists of fabrics ranging from traditional to contemporary designs in a variety of colours and textures.

FABRIC GUARANTEE When choosing a fabrics from Profile Fabrics for your home or office you can be sure you are getting a quality tested product. All of our fabrics have been tested to meet the Australian Industry Standards.

FROM THE TOP (left to right): Eden Burgundy, Eve Burgandy, Dover, Nautic, Orlaska Midnight, Lola Scarlet, Jack, Portsea Ocean. For more colours and to see other fabrics please visit our website: www.profilefabrics.com.au T 03 9357 8807 E profile@profilefabrics.com.au

PROFILEfabrics


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REVIEW

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‌a marriage of old and new

1. bELL A pendant lamp by Canberra-based designer Chris Hardy made from an age-old technique of slip-cast porcelain, paired with a very contemporary seat belt strap. chrishardy.com.au

2. DRAwSTRInG Swedish design studio Design Stories created their lamp made from a recycled sunlight filtering screen that would otherwise have ended up as landfilling waste. The material hold its own structure, which allows it to take on organic forms.

3. PoTS UK designer Benjamin Hubert’s collection of storage vessels for Danish brand Menu combines the ancient earthy material with modern mass production techniques. The pots are made from natural raw terracotta, gloss glazed on the inside, capped off with injection moulded silicone rubber lids.

merry-go-round.se benjaminhubert.co.uk

Autumn Issue 2013


FURNITURE & FURNISHINGS BEST FRIEND 6-9 JULY BRISBANE 3-7 AUGUST MELBOURNE 21-24 SEPTEMBER SYDNEY

Join us at Reed Gift Fairs, Australia’s trusted home of retail. Source new ideas, buy the latest products and connect with the best suppliers in the marketplace. Register to attend at

www.reedgiftfairs.com.au


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CuLTuRE oF SMokInG Croatian design studio Brigada created an exhibition for Glythoteque HAZU art institution in Zagreb inspired by smoke rings. The exhibition explores the complex relationship between the country’s smoking laws, art and cultural taboos. The concept was an anti-exhibition of white curtained rooms to create an interior gallery of artwork and artefacts while simultaneously hiding it from view in an eerie exterior of glowing, ghostly cylinders. brigade.hr

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REVIEW

...a mirror to our culture


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...a critical mass

AbI-TAnTI: THE MIGRATInG MuLTITuDE Presented at the newly opened Spazio Marni during this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, these curious little humanoid/ robots are a collaboration between the fashion brand Marni and the Education Department of Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea. Made from pieces of industrial waste in the form of sticks, spheres and cubes, the bots play on ideas of identity, difference and otherness. marni.com | castellodirivoli.org

furnishinginternational.com


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REVIEW

…helping people

PAPER VASE CoVER Dutch designer Pepe Heykoop and the Tiny Miracles Foundation are helping people out of poverty and prostitution with his hand-folded Paper Vase Cover, as well as other designs. Pepe’s workshop teaches the women of Pardeshi (a red light district in Mumbai, India) the skills to make his designs as well as channelling the proceeds from sales towards the women’s health care, education and jobs. Paper Vase Cover is an intricately folded flatpack design, which turns the ubiquitous wine bottle into an elegant vase. pepeheykoop.nl | tinymiracles.nl

Autumn Issue 2013


Australia’s No.1 Mattress Choice

The most supportive mattress for all you do in bed. With trusted support and amazing comfort, the new generation Sealy Posturepedic is designed for an even better night’s sleep. Plus innovative features are designed to be functional and attractive. It’s no wonder that Sealy is Australia’s Number 1 mattress choice* – over 7 times more people would choose Sealy than any other mattress. Choosing Sealy is easy!

SRx Titanium® Support

UniCased® XT Edge

ComfortCare® Latex

*Source: Quantum Research Bedding Tracking Report, October 2012

DuraFlex® Base

LiftRight® Handles

StayTight® Foundation Cover


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REVIEW

‌a body of work DRAwInG Considered among the greatest designers of our time, French brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have unveiled an intimate look into their studio practices in Drawing. Consisting of over 800 previously unseen drawings ranging from pencil-sketched

Autumn Issue 2013

to graphic tablet-produced, Post-it size to A1 size, the book is a pure anthology of the Bouroullec’ best body of work, presented exactly as they conceived them. bouroullec.com | jrp-ringier.com


SOUTHEAST ASIA’S

NO.1

FURNITURE FAIR


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REVIEW

1. SnuG Nordic Bros. Design Community created this Snug bed as a symbolic nod to the comfort of a warm embrace. The U-shaped headboard creates a semienclosed cosy sleeping environment. nordicbrosdesign.com

‌ritual, habitual and ethereal

2. uRbAn bILLy Australian Elliat Rich’s tea set is a contemporary take on the traditional billy over a campfire. The five-piece set, which includes a spirit-fire burner underneath the billy, draws on rituals of sharing a cup of tea and is re-contextualised in contemporary glass and Ash. (Photo: Grant Hancock)

3. HoMEwoRk Tomas Kral designed this timber desk with a folded aluminium lip for Luxembourg furniture producer Super-ette. The simple gesture fulfils all the functional requirements of a modern desk. It acts as a shelf, drawer and even a hanging device. tomaskral.ch | super-ette.com

elliatrich.com

Autumn Issue 2013


18–21 July 2013 Melbourne Exhibition Centre

Bringing the furniture industry together

Register to visit furnitex.com.au

Co-located with


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REVIEW

bRoACHED EAST After two years of research, Broached East emerges as the second instalment in an ongoing series of exhibitions exploring Australia’s history through contemporary design. Based on a period of Chinese and Japanese migration to Australia in the late 19th Century, the limited edition pieces, curated by John McPhee, are themed around ideas of wealth creation enabled by global trade, the migrant experience and the individual object we collect to create and restore a sense of place. Adam Goodrum’s Inside Out Cabinet (pictured) draws on the narrative of hidden treasure and gold loot. The cabinet literally turns itself inside out and back again on castors and butterfly hinges to reveal its secrets. Broached East is on exhibition in Sydney until 15 June. (Photography: Scottie Cameron) broachedcommissions.com

…telling our story

Autumn Issue 2013


www.ellikon.com.au

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∑ feature story: idea + industry =

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Idea + Industry =

What kind of future will the Australian furniture industry have? price competition with low-cost imports has brought this industry to its knees. But, as the experts say, manufacturing is essential for our economy, and the way forward must be through embracing design and innovation.

T

he death knells are ringing for the Australian furniture manufacturing industry. Little by little, the small- to mediumsized enterprises that make up the majority of the industry are shutting up shop, no longer able to fight against the tidal wave of imports. Those who are left are dredging up the last reserves of energy just to tread water. Perhaps symbolically, a recent search of a government careers counselling website for ‘furniture maker’ turned up ‘coffin maker’ as the only entry.

Text Linda Cheng & Ewan McEoin

The issues stacked against this industry may seem insurmountable: a high dollar and competition with cheaper labour markets pricing Australian furniture out of the trade; the tyranny of distance limiting opportunities for global distribution channels; the lack of entrepreneurial talent; and a loss of brand identity for manufacturers. Most of all, the lack of cohesiveness, interaction and transfer of ideas and knowledge between manufacturing and design is causing an unhelpful schism unconsciously sinking each other down a plug hole towards extinction.

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feature story: idea + industry =

Manufacturing needs to embrace design in order to innovate and remain competitive and design needs to collaborate more effectively with manufacturing. This is a co-dependent relationship that can mutually benefit from more engagement with each other and will in turn save this boutique industry using creativity. Australians are a resilient bunch. Time and time again throughout our history, we have been able to pull back from the brink

in various ways. We can also take note from global examples of similar economies reinvigorating themselves through a healthy manufacturing sector. So in amongst all the gloom, whispers of life can be heard. Manufacturers are recognising that price competition in this market is simply unfeasible and unsustainable. They are evolving their business models and preparing themselves to take a stand in the export

market. The Australian Government’s recently commissioned report, Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Economy, is a welcome recognition that action needs to be taken so that we can have a brighter future. But so much more could be done. We spoke to key industry figures about the state of manufacturing and the need to create a well-functioning ecosystem with clusters of concentrated activity that accelerate the flow of ideas through the industry.

This is the moment for manufacturers [to invest]... The equipment is cheaper than it’s ever been because of the high dollar and it can be incorporated into the technology of your company.

M

anufacturing is important to the Australian economy for a number of reasons. It contributes to our innovation and research proficiency not just within manufacturing but across the economy. A quarter of our R&D in Australia is in manufacturing. It creates high skilled jobs, again, not just within manufacturing but also in engineering, computer science – jobs we can’t do without if we are to create a modern advanced economy with sophisticated infrastructure that we build ourselves. And it addresses our external account. In other words, we would be left very vulnerable in the international market, as the mining boom reaches a conclusion, if we had to borrow to pay for our massive manufactured import bill. We’ve seen examples of this in many countries in the last few years of the global financial crisis. We know from the data that the largest and fastest growing area of the world

Autumn Issue 2013

Roy Green Dean of Business School, UTS

economy for the last few years, and for the foreseeable future, is in knowledge and intensive manufacturing and services. We can increase productivity growth not just in technological innovation but also with non-technological forms of innovation such as new business models, design, quality, high performance work, management practices and systems integration. These are really significant factors in ensuring that we can develop niches in international markets, in connecting to global supply chains as well as exporting. This is the future for manufacturing in Australia and it is also essential for the future growth of our national economy. In the context of a high cost market, we need the right skill base, we need to upgrade our training and education systems in order to have the human capital that is able to adapt to this new environment. We need a very engaged and capable management class who can draw the talent most effectively from their workforces. Australian managers, especially of SMEs, are lagging in world best

practice especially in what’s called ‘instilling a talent mindset’, which is a kind of proxy for innovation capability. If we do that well, then the future is bright for those areas of manufacturing and technological capability that we have identified as our strengths, either existing or potential. I always like to make the comparison with the Scandinavian countries, which all together amount to about 24 million people (about the same as we have) in a big land mass off the coast of a larger market, Europe. We’ve got a big land mass off the coast of now the fastest growing market in the world, China and the East Asia region. The Scandinavian countries were able to develop their manufacturing to the point where they have five manufacturing companies in the global Fortune 500 rankings. We have none. That is the challenge for us. We need to adjust our economy to move into those areas which rely on human ingenuity essentially, not just digging things out of the ground with the prospect of diminishing long-term returns.


feature story: idea + industry =

Patrizia Torelli President, Australian Furniture Association

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ustralian made furniture is of the highest quality and with that obviously comes a cost premium. The retail sector is forcing Australian manufacturers to be more competitive against importers on price, but the quality is completely different and therefore, there are some real cost pressures on our manufacturers at this point. This is our single biggest challenge. Manufacturers have also really lost the strength of their branding in the marketplace. It’s now the retailers who ‘own’ the product in terms of branding. There is an opportunity to regain that IP, to

...not enough time and money is being invested into blue-sky thinking at a strategic level. Manufacturers need to understand that design and innovation in production is critical.

The Scandinavians understand they cannot rely on raw materials long-term (it should be noted that they have in the past) and they have to develop and design products and services that have evolved through processes of innovation, and much deeper collaboration between research and industry. They really understand the role of clustering and developing areas of expertise. The reinvention of skills in different economic contexts has happened time and again in history. We’ve even done it in Australia. The furniture industry needs to find out where there are opportunities for future success. No is the time to invest. Phil Butler, CEO of Textor Technologies, a manufacturer of fabrics for Kimberly Clarke, gave this great advice: don’t miss the opportunity of the high dollar to buy capital and equipment cheaply from abroad. This is the moment for manufacturers because there may not be another like it. The equipment is cheaper than it’s ever been because of the high dollar and it can be incorporated into the technology of your company.

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draw the customer back to the brand of the manufacturer. If this was done, manufacturers could regain some leverage in the equation. Furniture is one of the biggest manufacturing sectors in the country. But because it’s made up of so many small to medium enterprises, people don’t notice if one more closes their doors. We need to rally the troops together and get everyone singing from the same sheet. It’s crisis time now for the industry. We can’t sit any longer and wait whilst the import market erodes what we own. There are already a number of occupations that are no longer delivered as training courses in our tertiary institutions because they’re not generating the enrolment numbers. This needs to be turned around and now is the time to do it. I’ve personally visited manufacturers who have invested millions of dollars on new equipment and new technologies to innovate and to be export ready. We are looking at new and fresh ways to provide our members with export opportunities through trade events. We want to not just have national retail groups come to trade events to buy from our manufacturers, we also want international buyers to come in and do the same thing. It’s never been done before, so we need to make sure that those steps are taken to get out there. Many of our manufacturers cannot afford to go to Tokyo or other international exhibitions so we will have to try to bring people to us. That’s one way our organisation can help to turn our furniture industry around.

A number of manufacturers have also employed in-house designers. Those who are willing to embrace the evolution of furniture manufacturing are actually reaping the benefits because that is putting them ahead of the pack. Some are constantly innovating and producing dynamic, fabulous furniture that consumers are eating up. It doesn’t take long before innovative design is copied, so this means that the manufacturers need to stay one step ahead of the game. Designers have a very important role in enabling this. The furniture industry hasn’t really recognised its true worth. There are still a number of manufacturers who are doing it tough. They’re manufacturing at a level that allows them to exist, but not enough time and money is being invested into blue-sky thinking at a strategic level. Manufacturers need to understand that design and innovation in production is critical. The cost of innovation and R&D can be quite prohibitive for some. Also some of the tariffs that are applied to the Australian market for manufacturers who want to export are an impediment to growth. These are the areas that our association can lobby the Government on. This impacts not just on the furniture manufacturing sector, but throughout the supply chain. If our furniture manufacturing industry shuts down, our timber industry would be significantly affected, many of the things we do as a nation would be affected in some way. We either want to be known as a nation of innovators or we don’t. At the end of the day, the government chooses what our national profile is in the world arena.

furnishinginternational.com


feature story: idea + industry =

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Brandon Gien Managing Director, Good Design Australia Chair, Australian International Design Awards (AIDA)

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esign-led innovation has been identified as a critical path to developing new products, better services and increased productivity. There is now overwhelming evidence of the value that design brings to business, manufacturing and industry.

help satisfy people’s primary need for safety and security. It also indicated that around 72% of all respondents would choose a product carrying a good design mark over one that didn’t. The message from this is that consumers demand high quality, welldesigned products and are prepared to pay for it. My message to manufacturers who are not using design strategically is that they simply cannot afford not to. Interestingly in Denmark, recent research indicated that companies investing in design grew by a staggering 22% more than companies that did not consider design as a strategic investment so the facts speak for themselves. Australians are born entrepreneurs. Through necessity or other means, we punch well above our weight in the development

Unfortunately, design is seen by many businesses as an afterthought – something that gets applied at the end of the product development process.

Autumn Issue 2013

Design not only helps differentiate a product or service from competitors, more specifically, investment in professional design results in products, systems or services that are more efficient functionally, aesthetically and commercially. The net result means better products that consumers are attracted to and thus higher profits. Unfortunately, design is seen by many businesses as an afterthought – something that gets applied at the end of the product development process to improve the packaging (for example). What businesses who don’t engage design fail to understand is that design is the whole process and if applied well, it can transform the product and ultimately the entire business. This, obviously, can’t happen overnight and takes time and commitment. We recently carried out a study in conjunction with a leading research firm that showed design rated as the second highest factor in a consumer’s purchase decision, second only to price, and that design can

of practical solutions to real problems facing our country today. The government is slowly waking up to the value that design can bring to business and our competitive advantage as a nation in this regard. Our proximity to Asia has meant our manufacturing sector has declined, however our service sector has conversely increased and now sits at a just over 70% of our GDP. Design thinking can play a significant role in how we chose to differentiate ourselves as a nation, in the region and the world, particularly in the service sector. Put simply, design thinking puts the customer’s needs and wants at the core and qualitatively evaluates the market and environment of use to achieve better outcomes. Far greater success including an increase in market share, brand value and positive association can come of this approach in a world where a company’s primary concern is customer loyalty and bottom line profit.

Gerda Gemser Professor of Design and Business RMIT University

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e conducted several research studies on the furniture industries in The Netherlands and also Italy in the 1990s and also in 2011. Based on that, we can conclude that namely, investing in plain, ordinary design – that is, design typical of what everybody else is doing – won’t necessarily improve your performance. The best performance outcomes resulted from investing in innovative design. If as a company, you want to change, to invest more in design, the best way is to work together with professional designers because they are the specialists. It’s my personal opinion that at least in the short term, if you’re not trained as a professional designer, then you cannot think that by reading a couple of magazines or doing a three-day course that you can absorb design. What’s interesting to note, for the Italian furniture industry, is that we found they have a strategy where they carry a few pieces of furniture that are very innovative, by means of which they establish their names and their brands. Those pieces demonstrate to the world that they are very trend setting. But they also have pieces that are more trend following so to speak. This is where they earn their money while the trend setting pieces, that often don’t sell well, set the reputation and the brand identity of those companies. So I don’t necessarily think you have to use professional designers for your whole portfolio but it might be beneficial to use them for a particular set of pieces and maybe for others you can be more incremental. Both, of course, have to be a consistent quality. Those incremental pieces may not be that outstanding in terms of how they look or what they can do but there has to be a quality attached which is similar to the much more distinguished pieces. You should also not make too much of a distinction because that will not work either. It has to be a consistent range with room for some variations.


Brian Parkes CEO, JamFactory

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urniture manufacturing in Australia has traditionally relied on imported design from the middle of last century right through to the 90s. In the last 15 years, we’ve seen that change. Sadly prior to that and during that time, a lot of manufacturers have gone belly up. But those who are still in the game are beginning to benefit from healthy relationships with talented Australian designers, the likes of Keith Melbourne, Matthew Sheargold and Jon Goulder. The project Alex Loterstzain did with the Tasmania manufacturer, Designs in Timber, which resulted in new brand, One/Third, is perhaps the most marked example of this in recent times and all the more successful because of that. The issue there was not so much about the link between design and manufacturing but a three-way link between design, manufacturing and distribution. I think the inclusion of Stylecraft in that project is what gave it real impact and perhaps helped secure its economic sustainability. There have been a number of brokered relationships by state governments and other organisations but without that sophisticated distribution channel, a number of them have been lovely experiments and everybody just went back to doing what they were doing. I think smart manufacturers who want to invest in future economic sustainability understand that they need to do things

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differently. Creating relationships that grow over time with designers is a way for both manufacturers and designers to learn valuable lessons from one another. If we’re going to retain skills in manufacturing and have a competitive industry, we actually have to invest in various ways. There’s a role for government, the industry, the design fraternity and there’s a role within the national curriculum. All those thing’s are important and they’re important from a national economic point of view. There are plenty of players doing everything they can with limited resources, from the Design Institute of Australia to the State- and Federal-funded organisations such as Craft Victoria in Melbourne or Object in Sydney. I think the design industry is more respected than it was a decade ago. There are more opportunities particularly for entrepreneurial and independent design practices. So advocacy continues to be important and it can happen in so many different ways. There’s been some lobbying from the design sector to encourage the Federal Government to develop a comprehensive design policy. So if that were to get some traction, then it would also need some sort of funding commitment attached. Those are the things that we’ll continue to lobby for, but I think we’re probably a decade away from achieving that. At a state level, there were some terrific investments in design advocacy, like design awards and festivals. And I’m distressed at the withdrawal of that investment in most states, certainly in Victoria and Queensland. I think they’re retrograde things but they reflect a very real economic reality. It’s short-sighted because one of the things that will drive a more resilient economy is to invest in design innovation.

If we’re going to retain skills in manufacturing and have a competitive industry, we actually have to invest in various ways.

For countries like Australia, we have to compete based on brand. We cannot compete based on cost. In the case of the Italians, the strong brands allow them to set quite high prices. People are willing to pay more because it’s a Cassina or a B&B Italia. But it also allows them to charge more for those more incremental pieces of furniture. What we see happening more and more also is the designers helping companies on a strategic level. They help to build a company with the kind of values they wish to express. We can see that the small- and medium-sized companies, especially, don’t have any long-term strategy. They are very busy with short term survival. So in these instances, the designers can sometimes help them look at their future vision. They can codify it by means of a brand. That is also, for example, what you see with Italian companies. Normally they are also small and medium sized but the CEO generally has a high respect for the designer. As well, because they are small, often you see them cooperating and investing together in new manufacturing factories which is more up to date. Perhaps the furniture association in Australia can help with this cooperative clustering and investment. If Australian manufacturers embraced design and built their own strong brands by which they can distinguish themselves from the low cost, then they could instead compete on the level of the Europeans. If they are able to deliver a similar quality and a similar type of innovative design, they might be able to capture back the domestic market. From there, they might even try to capture and export market. That could also be a very good strategy. It’s not an on/off process. You cannot hire a professional designer once and then think it will all go well. It might be that you have to continuously invest in them.

feature story: idea + industry =

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feature story: idea + industry =

Nick Rennie Designer, Happy Finish Design

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he biggest issue we face in the Australian furniture industry is intellectual property. The first thing we need to do is to ban copied design. The moment we do that, design is put on the agenda and it becomes relevant. Australia is used as an example by top designers around the world as a country that copies. Copied design is largely for the US, Australia and up until recent changes in copyright law, the UK. The law here is such that furniture design is considered a manufactured product and doesn’t fall under copyright protection of ‘artistic’ works. You have to pay and register to get that kind of protection. This is where our political parties need to lead the way and extend the copyright protection as the British have just done. But, if we take their pathetic stance on copied design, this is obviously something they have zero interest in. Disregarding the ethical question about someone stealing another’s ideas and selling them for profit legally under our current system, the fact still remains that these products are largely inferior in production and quality of materials, and were probably made in dubious conditions for the working staff, that will no doubt end in landfill. If we can automatically protect our intellectual property, you’ll start finding people doing original designs cheaper. And that’s when all of a sudden people can start engaging designers. You’ll find local manufacturers making stuff because they know it might not get ripped off. It’s an amazingly serious question that is often neglected, considering the amount of landfill created by badly designed and manufactured products.

Adam Cornish Designer

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’ve always been really proactive about seeking out manufacturers and getting them to break into new products they haven’t thought of before. I think it’s just about the designer taking things to manufacturers, rather than waiting for it to come to them. There are so many cottage and artisan industries in Australia that we could be utilising and people aren’t doing that. You have to look at what’s available to you and design around those capabilities, rather than the other way round. There’s really a lot out there. Palamont who do rotational moulding are supporting new designers by help with tooling costs. Wovin Wall, who I’m working with on an injection moulded wall tile, has put in a huge amount of R&D, as much as any European company, in addition to the tooling and cost of shipping it around the world. I think a lot of designers wait to be approached. But I would say it can never hurt to have a discussion with a manufacturer. You may even find something that they actually want to be designed. That said, manufacturers should put out briefs for things they may want. Because I guarantee that if a company put out a brief for something, independent studios would probably reply with some prototypes. It comes down to innovation. If you have a product that is unique and therefore has its own niche in the market, it’s not competing with the cheap imports or the European work, then you’re not in direct competition with these giant manufacturers. That’s been my experience of how to stay competitive using local manufacturing.

If we can protect our intellectual property... that’s when all of a sudden people can start engaging designers.

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Kjell Grant Founder, Melbourne Movement Professor of Design, Furniture Studio, RMIT University

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urniture manufacturing in Australia has deteriorated terribly. There isn’t a culture of investing money in high cost tooling for furniture here because there isn’t a big enough market to tool up for. Australia has never been a mass production country. We’ve always started things here and maybe we do 100 in fibre glass and a small mass run, but nothing like 40,000 a year, which is what the Japanese market, for instance, would require. I’ve never encouraged my students to design just for the Australian market, but always the world market and I think manufacturers should also consider this. We take the students to international trade shows such as Milan Furniture Fair because it proves that we’ve got good talent in Australia and it gives them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have. The Melbourne Movement takes them there and invariably what happens is some of the students get a job in Milan and stay there. It’s easier to get a job as a designer there than it is here, even for non-Italians. Usually they will be employed for three months or so to develop the piece with the manufacturers and the companies will arrange for their accommodation. That sort of opportunity is worth more to the students than a $5,000 prize or something similar. To me, the designer is the motivator. Whether it’s with a sales organisation, a marketing organisation or a manufacturer, the designer is the catalyst. Designers also needs to have entrepreneurial skills. And that’s also the problem with manufacturing as well. We’ve got entrepreneurs in pop music, in sports but not in manufacturing and especially not in furniture. We need a new manufacturing industry in furniture. You got to have new design – and it has to be new, there’s got to a freshness about it. Not sensational but good, sellable and easy to like. Then scale up to big production.


capacity: groovemark

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Against the Grain From hi-fi systems to furniture, Groovemark are stoically keeping production going at their Campbellfield factory. Text Linda Cheng

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ndrew Sammut and Rob D’Angelo may be the new kids on the block in furniture manufacturing – their brand, Groovemark, launched just this year at Australian International Furniture Fair. But the pair have been in manufacturing for 15 years, originally making speakers for the likes of Pioneer and TDK. “In the past, we’ve mass manufactured for other people and turned over thousands of pieces a year,” says Andrew. But when their clients deserted them and turned to cheaper labour markets, Groovemark’s core business dried up. But Andrew and Rob are also proud of the quality they produce and in turn, the quality of Australian manufacturing. They refused to let their business go by the wayside so they began making furniture in order to keep their

Photography Groovemark

operations going. Today, the factory restores old record players, makes retail shelving and display furniture, custom furniture and joinery for architects and designers, as well as venturing into their own brand of 60s-inspired plywood creations. “The idea behind the Groovemark brand was to do something different, something that’s got a bit of retro style to it but using modern colours and finishes,” says Andrew. “We want to build the label of leading Australian designed and manufactured products. That’s why we started it, we wanted to keep manufacturing here.” As well as their passion for Australian manufacturing, “we’re also looking at working with other Australian designers to give them a way of getting their products mass manufactured,” says Andrew.

groovemark Machinery

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• Multicam Series II S 2.5 axis router CNC machine • Altendorf F-90 panel saws • Hebrock 2003/3DK automatic edge bander • Hunter Fast Form custommade vinyl wrap.

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Capacity: advanced technologies

Brave New World Advancements in technological capabilities are set to revolutionise design and manufacturing in the furniture industry. Text Linda Cheng

Portrait Ty Layton at Change Creative


Capacity: advanced technologies

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t wasn’t that long ago when 3D printing was purely the domain of comically irrelevant geeky television characters printing their own heads onto Pez dispensers. These days, the gathering momentum and advancements in technology are propelling digital additive manufacturing headlong into the mainstream at superfast broadband speeds. Already this year, we’ve seen 3D printing’s pervasive influence in the worlds of fashion and sports wear, jewellery, furniture, construction and even more unimaginably, Foster and Partners are proposing to build a 3D printed lunar base. But, 3D printing is just one sensation capturing the public’s imagination. In this brave new world of advanced production, ‘robotics’ has replaced ‘green’ as the new buzz word of the decade. RMIT University recently acquired a KUKA robot for the workshop at its School of Architecture and Design. Andrew Thompson, workshop co-ordinator, says, “The University, as part of its more recent strategic plan, saw their strengths in design and technology. So promoting technology within the school of design, was really the nexus of their strategies.” As a designer himself, Andrew saw the opportunity to exploit the digital fabrication side. The robot works through a subtractive process, it carves out of a solid block of material. This is the opposite of 3D printing which is additive, building up layer by layer of material. Operated through software, the robot cuts with millimetre precision. Students at the School of Architecture and Design are able to use the robot make their scale models but the applications for furniture making are enormous.


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Previous page: Andrew Thompson in RMIT School of Architecture and Design workshop with KUKA robot. Right: Robofold making folded sheet metal interior wall coverings.

...if [manufacturers] employed designers and they spent more money on product development then they would most likely realise the full capacity of their machines and the full potential of their business.

“The thing about these sorts of machines is that you get complexity for free,” says Andrew. “It’s going to take exactly the same amount of time and cost to do something incredibly detailed as it is to do something simple. So you’re going to get arguably more complexity in design which is probably cheaper than hand made furniture.” Andrew is himself a furniture designer and became interested in digital fabrication as a way of negating the limitations of access to distribution. Digital fabrication allows anyone to submit a design and have it robotically manufactured to exact specifications with CAD file, anywhere in the world. “I can sell the designs online and [the customer] can make it in their particular location,” explains Andrew. “So in other words, it’s global design for regional or local manufacturing. Your location in the world as a designer is completely irrelevant, at least in a manufacturing sense.”

Autumn Issue 2013

In a similar vain, Australian manufacturers can take advantage of these technologies to locally manufacture globally sourced design, thereby negating the cost of importing high design from overseas. We’ve seen this democratisation effect happen in many industries due to digitisation. Print on demand, digital printing and e-publications have had a seismic effect on the publishing industry in the last few years. It’s possible that the furniture industry can follow the same road where anyone can design and manufacture anything from anywhere in the world. Our manufacturers need to open their eyes to the possibilities of new technologies. As Andrew says, “The uptake of high technology seems to be really good. But they don’t seem to use it to their full effectiveness. They tend to have really complex and powerful machines, which are only running at a small fraction of their design capacity.

So they’re using very powerful machines to do very simple things. They buy these machines because of efficiencies rather than for their ability to create new types of design or new types of products. Those two things actually marry together because if they employed designers and they spent more money on product development then they would most likely realise the full capacity of their machines and the full potential of their business.” Andrew cites three examples (sadly, none Australian) of robotics used in making furnishings. The first is Robofold, a patented six-machine process that sculpts sheet metal into complex shapes that are hard to achieve through conventional methods. The process, usually found in the automotive industry, has so far produced decorative interior wall coverings as well as objects such as bowls. Robofold also offers its method of production as a service to other designers.


CApACITy: advanCed teChnoloGies

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Above left and right: Pongo by Matter Design. 5 axis milled timber coat rack made in three pieces and seemless assembles together to appear as one piece of carved wood. Right: Dirk Vander Kooij’s Endless table being made by 3D printing robot.

Pongo designed by Matter Design uses five-axis milling process to carve out the three pieces of wood which assemble into a coat rack. The result is a complex, sculptural design that looks as if it’s been carved from a single piece of wood, which actually would have been almost impossible, not to mention highly expensive. This method of manufacturing allows the three pieces to be “produced efficiently, shipped efficiently and still align with mechanical fasteners”. Lastly, Endless designed by Dirk Vander Kooij combines robotics with 3D printing. The Dutch designer used a decommissioned extruding robotic arm and melted pieces of refrigerator to create the layers of plastic that hardens into a table or chair. Although these robot technologies have been able to create a highly crafted aesthetic with little human interference, it doesn’t mean the end for traditional craftsmanship in furniture making. “In my opinion, what’s

going to happen is that you’re going to get a polarisation,” says Andrew. “Fine craft will actually remain and become more valuable and more revered. And you’re also going to get this sort of high end and very complex, digital manufacturing.” What is does mean, however, is a world of new aesthetics and possibilities previous unimaginable through conventional methods of production. As Andrew explains, “It enables us to explore more complex and unique aesthetics that potentially give our furniture manufacturing market and our local furniture designers an edge over other markets that are following design.”

KUKA Robotics kuka.com Robofold robofold.com RMIT Advanced Manufacturing precinct rmit.edu.au/advancedmanufacturing

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sustainable innovation: recopolTM

Sustainable Innovation Autumn Issue 2013


sustainable innovation: recopoltm

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An Australian innovation turns old telephones into recycled plastic chair shells. Text Linda Cheng

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Left: A family of RecopolTM shells Top left to right: Rabbit, Mitt Sweptback and Bubble shells

Photography & Art Direction Mark Rudge & Ty Layton at Change Creative

ecopol TM is made from recycled ABS, a hard plastic commonly found in the casings of electronic appliances such as telephones, computers, printers and the insides of refrigerators and washing machines. It’s the first and only recycled ABS plastic furniture shell in the world. This innovation, developed by Wharington more than 20 years ago has recently gained an EcoSpecifier Green Tag certification for sustainable furniture. As well, it’s the first Australian product to be listed in the MATREC EcoMaterials database. ABS plastic is virtually indestructible. Although, at first glance, it doesn’t seem like the obvious choice for sustainability – it never breaks down – but this is precisely

why it’s perfect for furniture. As a structural engineering TER polymer, the material is as safe as houses. Unlike elasticised plastics, ABS doesn’t spring back, which means furniture manufacturers can fire staples into the shells without worrying about them being pushed out. It was originally accepted by the American FDA as food grade material for butter containers, as it has no VOCs. Nothing grows on it and nothing will ever eat it. So recycled ABS is ideal for making sustainable shells for upholstered furniture, as an alternative to MDF or plywood. Compared with FSC plywood, which can be difficult to source and even more difficult to verify, a major advantage for RecopolTM is that it can be recycled an infinite number

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sustainable innovation: recopoltm

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Above: Ivy Chair from Stylecraft. (Image courtesy of Stylecraft.)

In a way, we’re a double loop because we’re recycling materials that would have gone to landfill and we can take back what’s been used.

Autumn Issue 2013

of times where as plywood shells won’t withstand being torn apart. Wharington began making RecopolTM from recycled ABS out of economic necessity. Plastic, as a petro-chemical product, fell into short supply after the 1980s oil crisis. Suddenly it became a commodity and people began repossessing it and trading it. A major source of ABS for RecopolTM comes from Telstra’s repossessed telephones. In the 1990s, Wharington were supplying shells to Codesign Furniture Australia who in turn were major suppliers of commercial furniture to government departments. When the recession hit, discretionary spending by the government came close to decimating the furniture industry and with it, Wharington’s major customers. Since then, RecopolTM has been refocused,

redeveloped and rebranded. Wharington consulted with leading sustainability experts to redevelop the product as 100% recycled ABS and also to help communicate its benefits to furniture manufacturers. But it’s been a road paved with resistance. “We had to make furniture to show people what you can do with these shells because people have no imagination,” says Yvette Karklins, Manager at Wharington. “So we have a range of furniture, it’s very conservative and the reason for that is we only really continue to sell to the government departments.” Over the years, Wharington have supplied to a number of leading designers and manufacturers with their shells. One of their early clients who saw the potential of the product was Schamburg + Alvisse (now

owned by Zenith Interiors) who have used the shells in their 025 and 050 chairs. “The long-term relationship with Schamburg + Alvisse has been terrific for us,” says Yvette. “They’ve ordered thousands of shells over the last ten years.” Another one of the celebrate permutations of shells is the Ivy chair designed by Gary Galego for Stylecraft. More chairs are beginning to come onto the market using Wharington’s shells. Yvette says the increasing demand for green furniture and a government imperative for sustainable interior environments in driving business and interest for RecopolTM. Wharington are working with a growing number of manufacturers now benefiting of the locally made sustainable furniture component. “Since we’ve got the Green Tag, and because


sustainable innovation: recopoltm

people are more interested in sustainability, gradually, we’re finding that it’s starting to build more momentum,” says Yvette. “It’s taken a long time but the larger organisations are realising that they’ve got to be green in order to compete.” “Also, I think it’ll be a long time before China, Taiwan or Vietnam starts sending green, sustainable furniture to Australia.” Wharington make it very easy for manufacturers to use the shells. Ferrules for fixings are already moulded in and they encourage the manufacturers to use glove upholstery with Velcros and zips for easy removal. “It’s very simple. So if it’s simple to make, it’s simple to disassemble,” says

Yvette. “But the shell is perfectly intact and can be re-upholstered.” They also take back shells and offcuts so that, at the end of its life, the plastic doesn’t end up in landfill and instead melted down and moulded into new shells. “In a way, we’re a double loop because we’re recycling materials that would have gone to landfill and we can take back what’s been used,” Yvette reflects. “The key thing is for us to bring back the production so that we’re back up to running the three big ovens and we would be making moulds and shells for other furniture manufacturers. So that’s starting to happen, we’re doing less furniture but we’re doing a lot more of the shells.”

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Below: 050 chair from Zenith Interiors (originally by Schamburg + Alvisse)

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{

talking business

Talking

Greg Cheatley on fabrics

Autumn Issue 2013

charles parsons interiors

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he Charles Parsons Group is a wholesale fabric business that is just two years shy of its centennial year. It has, for four generations, operated successfully in the textiles market across many sectors from garment to interiors. In 1915, Charles Parsons & Co. began its operations by supplying suit fabrics from its then home of Kent House in Sydney’s Liverpool Street. The business has since grown extensively and now has offices across Australia, New Zealand and China. The interiors division, now headed by General Manager, Greg Cheatley, designs, develops and distributes drapery, upholstery and wall coverings for both retail and commercial contract markets. Despite performing well for much of its history in retail sector, particularly in drapery, changing market conditions are signalling cues for the company to adapt to a growing commercial market. “To me the job is about refocusing our attention and concentrating on areas of the market that we’re haven’t executed well in the past,” Greg explains. “Previously our focus has been drapery products. Upholstery and contract commercial areas are all of interest to us and it’s the focus of our strategy going forward.” Charles Parsons Interiors are strengthening their existing product range while also developing a new range of products that can simultaneously tackle retail and commercial markets. Training their staff in the appropriate ways to sell into a commercial market is the other half

of this strategy to move into the commercial contract market. “The commercial market is not something we can just start talking to. You really need the right mix of product and people and the right tools to sell to them. They require a very different sampling and product delivery service that a retail customer does,” explains Greg. “We’ll be sticking within the framework we’ve got now, but we’ll be looking at developing more products than are multifunctional. It will be higher performing products that can not only be put into a domestic environment but you can also put it into a hotel or an office environment.” For instance, drapery products that have fire-retardant properties are currently in the pipeline. Addressing these issues and varying performance criteria of products at development stage will be a primary focus of the company so that they can make their products capable of crossing a number of market segments, not just releasing it into one. “It’s really just being smarter about the product we develop and where we can then place it,” says Greg. With the new leadership, this centuryold fabric enterprise is now consolidating its positions to ensure they continue to be the leader of the market. “Charles Parsons, as a company, has very good bones to it,” says Greg. “When I started in [the textile] business 20 years ago, they were the yardstick and I suppose we just need to refocus and concentrate our attentions on putting the right product in the right places.”


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}

Business Interiors online

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n February 2009, David and Lisa Paley launched Interiors Online against the gloom and austerity of the global financial crisis and the threat of a muchpublicised retail slump. Today, the online furniture retail business is thriving, with over 8,000 products in their catalogue and not a single showroom or warehouse to eat up overhead expenses. The business model is simple and remarkably common sense. “The beauty of the internet is you can have a neverending inventory,” says Lisa. “Also, you can showcase your wares to people who wouldn’t normally see it.” Based in Adelaide, the online shop opens up the business to a national, and potentially even an international market without the disadvantage and limitations of location. Retailing this way also makes them agile and able to respond more quickly to changing market conditions than a traditional retail business. “You can’t keep up with current trends if you’re trying to move stock off the floor all the time,” explains Lisa. The couple have 26 years experience in retail, with newsagencies, a book store, music store to their credit. “The idea [for Interiors Online] came from the fact that I really wanted to stay in retail but didn’t want to go back into bricks and mortar. We had some experience with online in the corporate gift business,” says Lisa.

Lisa Paley on online retailing Interiors Online takes advantage of their suppliers’ logistics, using existing freight arrangements to ship direct from their warehouses to Interiors Online customers. The cost savings made from not having a central depot and double up on freight are then passed onto the customers. Interiors Online ships all around the country. Rural and remote customers benefit from reduced freight costs compared with conventional furniture retailers. “The next step we had was to create an experiential website,” Lisa continues. Taking inspiration from global best practice examples, the online shop is furniture’s answer to the Amazon for books or ASOS for fashion. The technology allows the customer to browse through 15 decorator categories as well as a zoom in detail on individual furniture items. At the heart of their business is really an adherence to good old-fashioned retail practice, irrespective of whether the platform is online or a physical showroom. Lisa spends much of her day tending to orders and enquiries. She’s also an interior decorator and is sometimes called upon to help customers source items that may not be in the catalogues. She credits this attention to customer care to the success of the business. “What we offer is extraordinary service. We get a lot of repeat business and a lot of referrals because of that.”

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Scrapbook by Nick Rennie

crapbook

the place for designers to share their thoughts

by Nick Rennie

Autumn Issue 2013


Scrapbook by Nick Rennie

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ick Rennie is an awardwinning, internationally recognised designer based in Melbourne. After graduating with a degree in industrial design from RMIT University in 1998, Nick launched himself onto the world stage through the Melbourne Movement at Milan Furniture Fair in 2000. Two years later, Nick established his design studio, Happy Finish Design, and also exhibited on his own in Milan. His designs have been selfdescribed as fun and playful, which can be seen in the Mushroom light (pictured right). Over the years, his designs have matured to have a clean, poetic simplicity and an arrestingly beautiful aesthetic. Nick shares his inspirations and talks about the most treasured objects in his possession and the fine details, patterns and textures that have caught his eye.

what I made... Design is a very vulnerable thing to do. We leave a piece of ourselves in each one. Left: Idee stools for Cubus Concepts. Visually, it’s really simple, like it’s made from one piece of bent wire. But it’s actually incredibly complex. It’s the illusion of simplicity. Top: Mushroom Light. Lamp with counter weighted base so it rocks backwards and forwards. Above left: Chiku Shelves for Porro. It’s not in production anymore, but Porro showed it in Milan this year in a retrospective of their most important pieces. Above right: Naname necklace made in brass. It was an experiment in materials and process.

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Pull switches on a lamp. They’re a really simple, beautiful little detail. They look like thimbles.

what I see... These may be just mundane objects, but they’re things that really grab my eye. Whilst I might never reference them, it collates this ongoing narrative in my mind.

I thought this was a genius idea to tip a cup upside down to protect the toothpicks.


This was a project a student of mine did with paper modelling. This was tissue paper dipped in water and glue and wrapped around a balloon.

These are from an exhibition by Jin Kuramoto in Hong Kong. The attention to detail in this exhibition was phemomenal. We spent two hours just staring at the installation layout and changing it by one millimetre at a time.


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Scrapbook by Nick Rennie

what inspires me... The beauty of being a designer is we have objects that we admire and aspire to produce. But deep down, we would never be able to do something that is as good and that’s why we love them.

This page: Concrete wall. The reason I love concrete buildings is not the obscene size of them but the fact they create their own character whether it be rust staining it or moss growing out of it. I find the fact that it’s so hardcore and overpowering is just exquisite. Opposite page: 1. Grass by Jin Kuramoto and Yusuke Seki, Designers Block Milan Furniture Fair, 2004. It’s made of metal disks with a piece of wire and a LED dipped in silicon. A fan was blowing and these little things just swayed from side to side like a glowing field of grass. The designers had created this world in a little corner of a building that made me forget about everything else on the planet. This was the moment when design became more than just something that I loved but a realisation of who I am. This is my favourite ever design. 2. Ginger ale bottle. It’s an incredibly sculptural bottle but also very functional, your fingers grip into the grooves in the glass. 3. Fruit Tree by Melbourne Ceramicist Gregory Bonasera. He used digitial fabrication to make the masters for the moulds. Althought it’s beautiful, I actually like the moulds more than the object. 4. Cutlery by Sunao. They’re so light weight and delicate yet they perform a function that is necessary in our lives. To me, this is my holy grail, to come up with something that would be as good as this. 5. Mayday Lamp by Konstantin Grcic. It’s got a humorous element and a functionality to it. I think it’s perfection in design. 6. Postcards by Muji. The shapes fold up to form a forest scene (left) and a farm scene (right). The beautiful thing about design and creativity is giving character and emotion to a static object. It’s a two dollar piece that I still get joy from looking at.

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SCRApBooK By niCk rennie

Ten questions with Nick Rennie What is the most critical problem facing us in the future? How can design intercept with that? I think for too long the focus has been on the idea of purely environmentally friendly products in whatever guise they may come. But to me, it comes down to good design. Just because something is made from, say, bamboo doesn’t make it good. It should also be functional, physically sensitive and aesthetically pleasing. The question for me should actually be about creating better objects. Those that are more relevant to the world we currently live in and to the world we hope to leave after we are gone.

What’s your favourite time of day? The moment just before you fall asleep. Your mind goes blank, and all the ideas swimming around seem to find their place. What’s on your desk right now? A big pile of mess – piles of sketches, small models, tools, small prototypes, pens, cables and business cards. What do you see when you look out at the world from where you sit? I actually look at a wall. It has a few images that I love, project lists, words that inspire and a beautiful Muji CD player. To my right is my most loved collection of magazines. What motivates you? An internal drive to create, to allow my imagination the luxury of running free. What are you most passionate about? My friends and family, my love of sport, the ability to travel, my addiction to sugar. But I am most passionate about the opportunity my parents have allowed me to follow my dreams. And at every level I encourage others to do the same. Who/what are your key influences? I love watching the interaction between people and how they relate to an object or their environment. Different cultures having different answers to the same problems.

Autumn Issue 2013

What’s your most essential piece of equipment? My hands, a pencil and a computer. They allow my imagination to explore unknown ideas and turn these ideas into lines, models and then an image on a screen which I can send instantly anywhere in the world. The internet and email makes working with overseas companies infinitely easier. What are you most proud of? The fact that I’m still going! After 14 years, I’m still just as in love with what I do. Whilst collating images for my most recent book I took to Milan, I realised that I have amassed a collection of over 150 design

concepts. I am just as happy with the projects from the early years to those I am creating now. This continued level of quality, I think, is my greatest achievement. How do you see the road ahead? There are a number of projects currently in the works that, if they make it to fruition, will be launched in the next 12 months with some incredibly exciting manufacturers. This and the continued development of my naname jewellery collection are my main focus at present. But like all creatives, I am eagerly awaiting that next challenge, whether it be from an idea sparked through a conversation on a packed train, or a late night meeting in a back street sushi bar. The beauty of what we do lies in the ever present possibilities of those that surround us. nick Rennie, Happy Finish Design happyfinishdesign.com

My favourite object is the paper form slipped into running shoes. These are made by Asics and they have the most textured pattern on them. It’s got a structure to it because it holds up the toe of the shoe to stop it from being squashed. For years, I just picked them out and threw it in the bin and one day it just dawned on me that it’s a beautiful object. It’s what Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukusawa call ‘super normal’ – this idea of incidental objects.


NEW pRoDUCTS

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New Products

HARRISon bookSHELF American Oak with steel brackets and oyster powdercoated drawer and cupboard pulls. Jardan, jardan.com.au

furnishinginternational.com


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NEW pRoDUCTS

IDA TAbLES designed by Tyler Yule for Mule. Solid FSC Victorian Ash Cafe culture, cafeculture.com.au

ML90 SoFA designed by Illum Wikkels酶. Available in a range of fabrics from Kvadrat. Great Dane, greatdanefurniture.com

Ro EASy CHAIR designed by Jaime Hay贸n for Fritz Hansen. Available in nine colours. Corporate Culture, corporateculture.com.au

Autumn Issue 2013


Shoppers are looking for Australian furniture and bedding

The Australian Made logo will help them find yours

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The Australian Made Campaign is proud to support

Furnishing in Focus

QLD 1-2 May

NSW 8-9 May

VIC/TAS 15-16 May

SA/NT 22-23 May

WA 29-30 May

To find out more visit www.australianmade.com.au or phone 1800 350 520


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NEW PRODUCTS

Jade lamp table Solid American Oak. Zuster, zuster.com.au

Ipparco table lamp designed by Neil Poulton with 3000K LED. Artimede, artimede.com.au

Hollywood Stackable Chair, FSC American Oak and plywood Stylecraft, stylecraft.com.au

mo Cushion in Peach, made from FR canvas filled with duck feather Sixhands, sixhands.com.au

Autumn Issue 2013


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NEW pRoDUCTS

SoLbond ultra light solar panel TCk Solar, tcksolar.com.au

GHoST FIREPLACE Reflective glass, bioethanol burner EcoSmart, ecosmartfire.com.au

PRISMA buFFET, solid Mahogony with Oak veneer boyd blue, boydblue.com

Autumn Issue 2013

RITA CHAIR aluminium frame and marine leather, and bAIRo TAbLE Teak Melton Craft, meltoncraft.com.au


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NEW PRODUCTS

Tastic Neo commercial bathroom heat lamp, light and fan Sampford IXL, ixlappliances.com.au

Sapphire Rangehood chemically etched stainless steel Qasair, qasair.coma.au

ILVE by Vintec built-in wine cellar ILVE, ilve.com.au

Autumn Issue 2013

500LT Refrigerator with active fresh blue light technology Beko, beko.com.au


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NEW PRODUCTS

Platinum Collection, Wild Fig Trilogy flameless candles Enjoy Lighting, enjoylighting.com.au

Calvin Collection made with soft chenille yarns Warwick Fabrics, warwick.com.au

Grafico Wallcoverings custom digitally printed wallpapers Grafico, graficowallcoverings.com.au

Autumn Issue 2013

Arc desk Plywood Groovemark, groovemark.com.au

American heat-treated tulipwood, American maple flooring American Hardwood, americanhardwood.org


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INDUSTRy NEWS

Industry News Barber Osgerby named designers of the year A bridge for trade 15 APRIL – 5 MAy anton Fair is a major trade event that has been held twice yearly in Guangzhou every spring and autumn since 1957. In addition to trade fair events, the multitudes of exhibitors and buyers attend the fair for business networking opportunities and trend spotting. The scale of this year’s fair has been expanded to a total of 59,500 exhibitors, across 50 pavilions in a range of market sectors including furniture, lighting, home decorations as well as those outside of the furnishings industry.

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China International Furniture Fair 18–22 JAnuARy ondon-based designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby were awarded the coveted prize Designers of the Year at this year’s Maison & Objet. Barber Osgerby exhibited six of their most recent designs at Maison & Objet including 26 of the Tip Ton chairs for Vitra and the much-publicised chandelier Platform Array V made from eight segments of hand-stitched Japanese paper on a sculptural frame. The pair founded their studio in 1996 after completing a masters degrees in

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architecture. As well as designing furniture, lighting and products for some of the world’s most well known brands, Barber Osgerby also engaged in one-off commissions both privately and publicly. In 2012, the pair were appointed by the London Olympic Organising Committee to design the Olympic Torch which was later named Design of the Year by London’s Design Museum. In addition, Barber Osgerby are also founders of Universal Design Studio, an architecture and interior design consultancy working on a number of high profile projects around the world.

Paper Tiger Cubes 6–8 FEbRuARy elbourne-based designer Anthony Dan of Paper Tiger Products launched his Cubes recycled cardboard shelving and display system at Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) in Sydney. The installation is a collaboration between a number of Australia’s leading designers and artists who contributed to the display. This year marked the final year for AIFF.

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Autumn Issue 2013

28 MARCH – 1 APRIL he office show of CIFF is one of Asia’s premier exhibitions of office furnishings, lighting, flooring and acoustics. Featuring the latest trends, products and concepts the show attracts over 600 exhibitors and 50,000 professionals each year to the bustling city of Guangzhou in China’s south.

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iPad mini giveaway at Lifestyle’s Forbidden City Show 25–27 JAnuARy or the second year running, Lifestyle Enterprises held their private, by invitation only furniture show in Las Vegas. Drawing 650 retail customers, the show’s attendance increased by 10% from the previous year. The year, after a fiveyear absence, Lifestyle reintroduced a furniture range catering especially for the children and youth market. As part of added incentives for the show, Lifestyle Enterprises gave away 500 iPad minis to the delight of show attendees.

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INDUSTRy NEWS

Showcasing Indonesia’s natural resources 11–14 MARCH ow in its sixth year, the International Furniture and Craft Fair of Indonesia (IFFINA) is one of the largest in the region attracting over 18,000 visitors. It’s the prime event for showcasing the abundant natural resources of Indonesia with artisans and craftsmen showcasing their talent and creations using timber, rattan, seagrass, clay and other materials indigenous to the Indonesian archipelago.

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Record Sales at MIFF 5–9 MARCH he Malaysian furniture industry exports to 200 countries around the world and the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) is an integral part of this trade. In 2012, sales at MIFF represented one third of total exports for the furniture industry Malaysia and this year, a new record was set at US$854 million. In recent years, MIFF has emerged as a springboard for the world’s emerging markets such as South East Asia and will continue to grow as it heads into its 20th year next year. MIFF organisers attribute the success of the trade fair to improved quality and variety of designs.

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Forthcoming Events 19 April – 8 June Designing Craft/Crafting Design: 40 years of JamFactory Adelaide, Australia

18–21 May International Contemporary Furniture Fair new york City, united States

A major exhibition celebrating the illustrious history of craft and design in South Australia. Curated by Margaret Hancock Davis, Margot Osborne, and JamFactory’s chief executive officer, Brian Parkes, the exhibition showcases the work of 40 JamFactory alumni including contemporary artists, designers and craftspeople.

Showcasing a plethora of contemporary furniture, flooring, lighting, accessories, kitchen and bathroom design for residential and commercial sector, ICFF is one of the major events on the world furniture trade fair calendar. icff.com

jamfactory.com.au 19–21 May May Design Series London, united kingdom 16–17 May what Design Can Do! Amsterdam, The netherlands

Celebrating 25 years, designEX is Australia’s longest running design trade show event, bringing together popular brands from furniture and architectural product sectors as well as emerging talents in design. designEX NEST this year will be curated by veteran design writer Anne-Marie Sargeant and will feature some of Australia’s best designers. As well, Michael Young will be headlining this year’s speaker series, The Business of Design, with 25 sessions discussing the practice of design in contemporary economic climate. designex.info

Now in its third year, this event looks into the role of design as a catalyst for change and tackling challenges of the world today. Believing that they require a multidisciplinary approach, the event crosses over a many disciplines including architecture, graphic design, product, fashion, furniture and textile design to “change, improve, renew, and inspire, help and solve”.

Four trade shows come together to showcase the great design city of London in a three-day event. Featuring DX London (product design), kbb LDN (kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms), The ARC Show (lighting) and Interiors LDN (furniture, textiles, flooring and lighting). Internationally celebrated designer Karim Rashid will be headlining the Conversation Series. The event serves the broad sourcing needs of London’s interior design, property, architecture and retail professions

whatdesigncando.nl

maydesignseries.com

Autumn Issue 2013

30 May – 1 June designEX Melbourne, Australia

4–5 June Colourways Trend Forecast workshop Melbourne, Australia Bringing together designers, architects, manufacturers and retailers, the workshop is an annual event connecting people with ideas and trends in working with colour. colourways.com.au


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oNE LAST WoRD

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One last word

wooD: ART DESIGn ARCHITECTuRE JamFactory and the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide come together to present an exhibition exploring innovative, eye-opening and diverse uses of wood in contemporary Australian art, design and architecture, co-curated by Brian Parkes and Elliat Rich. One of the featured artworks, Boot Lace by Sherrie Knipe (pictured), is made from pine veneer and cotton. The exhibitioin is travelling around Australia until December, 2014. (Photography: Andrew Barcham). jamfactory.com.au

Advertiser Index IFC–01

Charles Parsons Interiors charlesparsonsinteriors.com.au

23

Profile Fabrics profilefabrics.com.au

69

Canton Fair cantonfair.org.cn

02–03

bambi bambi.com.au

25

Reed Gift Fairs reedgiftfairs.com.au

71

Furniture China furniture-china.cn

04–05

bekaert Textiles bekaerttextiles.com

27

Grafico graficowallcoverings.com.au

73

M.A.T. Fine Furniture matfinefurniture.com

07

Pittella pittella.com.au

31

Sealy sealy.com.au

75

China International Furniture Fair ciff-gz.com

09

designEX designex.info

33

Malaysian International Furniture Fair miff.com.my

77

wharington International wharington.com.au

11

warwick Fabrics warwick.com.au

35

Furnitex furnitex.com.au

79

Hannan Removals hannanremovals.com

15

Enjoy Lighting enjoylighting.com.au

37

SEAFIE seafie.com

17

Mayfield mayfieldlamps.com.au

38–39

19

Interiors online interiorsonline.com.au

40

Ellikon – Print • People • Planet ellikon.com.au

21

American Hardwood americanhardwood.org

67

Australian Made australianmade.com.au

Autumn Issue 2013

Lifestyle lifestyle-au.com

IBC OBC

About Space aboutspace.net.au Liebherr liebherr.com.au


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Furnishing International Autumn 2013  
Furnishing International Autumn 2013  

Furnishing International is the Australian journal of furnishing fabrication and design

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