Better Furniture Design, Higher Profits

Better Furniture Design, Higher Profits

At a Conference about Furniture Design and Housing Business

Tulga Beyerle, a furniture designer who works for Section. a Art Design Consulting, a Viennese firm, spoke about the larger design context into which laminates fit. The audience, being mostly technically-minded, listened politely. When it came to the time for questions, none came immediately from the audience. As I was moderating, it was my job to generate some.

Better Home Furniture Design Higher Benefit for Furniture Business

Better Home Furniture Design Higher Benefit for Furniture Business

“Is it your opinion,” I asked, “that if the laminate industry would work more closely with designers, consumers might pay a higher premium for those designer-oriented products?”

“Absolutely,” she said. I waited for follow-up questions from the audience but none came, so I continued.

“We’ve been listening to great ideas about how to increase our margins by squeezing costs out of the process of making laminates. But what you are saying is, we can also increase our margins by creating products with higher design values?”

Product Category of Furniture Design

“Designers–and their clients–will pay more for great design in many product categories, such as Single seat: chair, lift chair, recliner, stool; Multiple seats: bench, couch, divan, love seat; sleeping: bed, futon, mattresss, sofa bed; entertainment: Television set, billiard table; Tables: desk, lowboy, computer desk,…” Ms Beyerle told us. “They perceive them to be worth more, even though they are created with the same raw materials and with the same processes as products that are not as appealing.”

Product categories for furniture design - table, chair, shelf, bed, mattresss

Product categories for furniture design – table, chair, shelf, bed, mattresss

Still no questions from the audience. After one more paper, the conference broke for lunch, and a very interesting thing happened. As Ms Beyerle left the conference stage, a crowd quickly formed around her, wanting to hear more about her ideas. I was surprised; it was as if an idea as abstract as creating profits through good design–rather than from the concrete sciences of production and materials–was something that should only be discussed in private!

I was reminded of this experience at the Surfaces exhibition in Las Vegas (North America’s Domotex) at the end of January. Noted European designer Clara Welkens of Toko Design was telling me how she was showing a concept to a potential client in their stand at the exhibition. Attendees walking by got very excited by the design, thinking it was a sample of a product they could purchase from the fair. Needless to say, that made an impression on the company looking at Ms Welkens’ designs.

“We put a lot of soul into our designs,” says Hungarian-bom Ms Welkens. “Without soul you can’t do anything. Our designs tend to look like they’ve been lived on, not pristine and new, so they have a `life’ to them that many designs lack. Everything we do is very dimensional, not flat, and even though many laminate flooring producers use them, they do not look mass produced.

Office chair and recliner design are hot topics for discussing in the conference this year

Office chair and recliner design are hot topics for discussing in the conference this year

“We don’t design to any trends or specific goals, but we make sure our designs are realisable: they work with the technology that decor printers have. You can do very fine designs, but nobody can reproduce them. To be successful, designs must be practical, but this doesn’t mean that they have to be flat or uninteresting.”

Because Toko designs are unique among the many woodgrains and tiles in the laminate flooring market, they can command a higher premium when sold by companies that understand how to market design. This isn’t easy for an industry that has long sold its products as lower-cost alternatives to `real’ materials, and has had to force its own costs down–sometimes at the cost of quality–to maintain profitability. But it can be done, and those who master this approach will be the ones to watch for the future.

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The Art of Interior with Vintage Furniture

The Art of Interior with Vintage Furniture

Vintage Sofas, Vintage Best Recliners , and other Vintage Furnitures Can Help Transform A Room Into A Modern Work Of Art

Vintage Furniture: An Old Style Coming Back

Vintage furniture has made a major comeback in the past few years. The styles of the furniture (for instant, a reclining chair or a sofa) used in the days of old are quickly becoming hot ticket items in second hand stores across the globe. Interior decorators are incorporating this trend into their designing by using vintage items in their décor themes.

Vintage Furniture Style

Vintage Furniture Style

A vintage leather sofa and A vintage leather recliner: Popular choices

Thrift stores are finding that they can get nearly the same amount out of the vintage items, as they are the newer modern styled furniture. Very popular furniture items are a vintage leather sofa and a vintage leather recliner; these are often bought before tags can even be placed on them. Those that want to incorporate a leather sofa into their décor search high and low for them, often waiting months to find one. The modern furniture makers have caught on to these trends and have begun designing brand new modern models of an older vintage sofa, as well as other hot selling older styled furniture.

Art space using vintage furnitures

Art space using vintage furnitures

While vintage furniture has made a comeback, so have many of the other items that were used to decorate a home during the same era. A lava lamp for example is a very popular item among teens today as it was during its original release. These lamps and other furnishings are not only popular with the younger crowds; they are just as widely used by those that are older.

Delightful Furniture and Furnishings

Some people are having fun finding the same delightful furniture and furnishings that were a big part of their younger years. These people enjoy using identical items to decorate their homes as those that were used to decorate the homes they grew up in. Often certain items are found that are a memoir to a deceased relative and are incorporated into design plans as a way to forget that loved one.

It is truly amazing how items from so long ago can become as popular today if not more so than when it was created. Some people have ditched their modern furniture and are using only vintage items in their homes. Other people are having fun mixing and matching modern and vintage items together to create some of the most dazzling displays of design seen in our times. For example, vintage leather reclining chairs can be decorated with a modern set of tables and sofas.

Why using vintage furniture?

One benefit of using vintage furniture is that it can often be bought for less than modern furniture, though with the trend becoming increasingly popular this may not be the case for long. A lot of the furnishings from the days of old are actually very fashionable and can easily be found in thrift stores and at yard sales all over the world. Some specialty items can be purchased from online vintage shops as well.

Watch the following video for decorating ideas with vintage furnitures

Where to get vintage furnitures?

If considering decorating with vintage items, one good place to begin the quest is at an older relative’s home. Often some of the best vintage finds can be items that a grandparent, parents or older aunts and uncles no longer have a use for. Many of these items will be free or reasonably priced with a family discount. If there is no luck with the relatives, the next place to start looking is in the thrift stores. For vintage furniture style, the recliner reviews site provides many good advises. Leaving wish lists with the managers of these shops may help you score items before they are priced and set out for display.

Vintage furnishings is cozy….!!!

Homes that are filled with items from days gone by offer a bit of nostalgia and nearly everyone that enters the home will recognize a particular item and be able to relate to it in some fashion from a childhood memory. Vintage furnishings can create a cozy atmosphere that many people enjoy being surrounded with. These items are sure to be the topic of many conversations when guests visit.

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Home HQ Ideal To Steal; How do you create a home office that’s stylish yet practical?

Home HQ Ideal To Steal; How do you create a home office that’s stylish yet practical?

We found the answers in these four inspiring spaces

Decor in the rest of your home

IF YOU WORK FROM HOME you want a space that’s functional yet doesn’t keep out of step with the decor in the rest of your home. You need storage (and lots of it!), a great filing system, a desk that’s practical and pleasing to the eye, and a comfy chair that doesn’t look clunky and corporate. While it may seem like a long wishlist, it’s something you can create in your own home quite easily.

interior decor the rest of your home

interior decor the rest of your home

We tracked down four stylish offce spaces to find out how the owners resolved their organisational and aesthetic needs. And while each person created their own solutions, they’ve done it within an entirely different look

from Scandi-inspired space, to faded grandeur with modern industrial and a touch of glamour in between. Read on for lots of office inspiration.

Starting point with spaces

STARTING POINT A former ginger beer factory in Sydney’s Annandale, the space had orange walls and orange lightshades. CHANGES Installed some walls, lights and ceiling fans, and painted the walls white

PRACTICALITIES Tess and Maja, the designers behind Polli (Polli.com.au), create jewellery and homewares, so when they moved

into this industrial studio they wanted to create different work zones. “The space is much more ergonomic with tall benches for standing tasks and lower tables for sitting tasks,” Tess says.

“We have ergonomic chairs and proper task lighting. These simple changes have increased efficiency and made it a much more positive work environment.”

PAPERWORK Tess and Maja use lots of ring binders. “We colour code them for their different contents,” Tess says. “We designed and printed our own stickers for the spines of the folders so they were more ‘Polli’ and easy to identify

CLEVER IDEA The central table in the office is a combination of industrial steel legs and an Laminex kitchen benchtop. “We needed the surface to be white so we could easily see the metal pieces,” Tess says, “and it needed to be durable, so a kitchen solution was perfect.”

STARTING POINT A once derelict home was revived to showcase its former glory. Previously, this room (pictured left) had been interior designer Debra Cronin’s (Debracronindesign.com) bedroom but as her business expanded she needed more space. “It’s one of the grandest rooms in the house and as I spend so much time in my office it made sense to use this room.”

NEEDS Good storage, extra space and surface area, and a place to display moodboards. “I’ll pull out a thousand samples when putting together a scheme for a client,” Debra says

CHANGES Debra left her large antique wardrobe in the room and used it to store reference materials and samples, as well as the printer and office supplies. The old wooden desk had been her former dining table, while

shelves from an old shoe factory were used to store folders. A lovely display case, originally from a museum, houses her magazine and book collection. PRACTICALITIES Because the room has so much character, Debra keeps technology items hidden in antique cupboards. Even in her living room she hides the TV and stereo.

Office for Future space

STARTING POINT The office for Futurespace  is in Sydney’s CBD. “When we moved in it was pretty shabby and not in great condition, with floor-mounted power outlets everywhere,” Angela recalls. NEEDS Angela and Stephen wanted a “creative studio space that felt more like a boutique hotel than a typical office”, Angela says. “We also didn’t want the aesthetic to date too quickly.” CHANGES “We removed the power outlets and generally cleared the space, then put in new carpet, painted and wallpapered all the walls, created a meeting area and different work spaces, a kitchenette and production area. For the outdoor area we bought furniture, did some planting and bought a barbecue for our Friday night drinks and monthly team barbecues,” Angela says. PRACTICALITIES The studio needed to provide plenty of space to accommodate the company’s products, samples and reference library.

Office for Future space

Office for Future space

 

STORAGE SMARTS

STORAGE SMARTS A library zone has been created for all the company’s samples, binders and moodboards. Bookshelves house magazines and a reference library. Display ledges are used in meeting rooms for presentations, and tambour-door storage units, which hold project files in ring binders, are placed at the end of each workstation. (Tambour doors slide and retract into the cabinet to save space.)

Smart storage

Smart storage

PAPERWORK All information related to different projects is stored in folders. Samples and materials are catalogued in a different space.

STARTING POINT The office is located in an old building in Sydney’s Pitt Street and had previously been the base for a backpacker services business.

The walls were bright blue. NEEDS “We wanted to create a high-impact, interesting space but without the spend,” Karen says. She wanted it to be quirky and functional, too, and based on the concept of a cube to play off the company’s name

CHANGES The space was virtually demolished before any changes were made. However, the existing flooring was retained due to time and cost restraints. PRACTICALITIES The office needed to not only accommodate

staff but be a space that could receive candidates for interviews. STORAGE SMARTS Karen’s aim was for a paperless office, however, as in any office space there are still filing needs

Cupboards are kept behind a wall – out of sight from clients. PAPERWORK Each desk has a filing drawer. Custom-built cupboards house stationery and other paperwork.

FURNITURE “We decided on black and white desks, with a splash of yellow, as it was practical, cheap and distinctive,” Karen says. “Furniture is a mix of replica and original. I believe it is very important to have excellent-quality chairs for staff

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Don’t Move Improve; A YOUNG COUPLE REINVENT THEIR SEMI

Don’t Move Improve; A YOUNG COUPLE REINVENT THEIR SEMI

A couple transform their semi from awkward and outdated to modern and spacious – with the ultimate work-from-home studio space

IT’S NOT OFTEN you read about a renovation that’s completed within the original timeframe, to budget and with not one horror story. But for photographer Mike Long and his wife Deb, the transformation of their Melbourne semi, from an outdated boxy space to the light and airy home it is today, was seamless – if a little risky: it was completed just one week before baby Oscar arrived!

It did help that the couple had some DIY experience under their belts from a previous reno and a few good friends in the building industry. This time, though, they doubled their workload by converting a backyard garage into a photographic studio, making Mike’s commute to work all of a few seconds.

MODERN MAKEOVER

ALL CHANGE The three-bedroom semi was liveable and relatively new, but not to Mike and Deb’s taste. “It was a 1990s renovation with 45-degree angles that cut the flow of the house and made it feel a lot smaller,” Deb explains. To get a feel for the space, the couple lived in the home for 11 months before making any changes.

A three bed room semi for remodelling

A three bed room semi for remodelling

PLANNING STAGE With a clear vision for their new-look home, Mike – who has a passion for design and architecture – drafted the plans and enlisted the services of close friend David Dubois of Room Design Office in South Melbourne to bring his sketches to life. The goal? “Modern, clean lines with a fresh, open feel,” Mike says.

“We wanted the space to suit our style and taste but to also contrast well with original parts of the home.”

WORK IN PROGRESS

GETTING STUCK IN Not afraid of a little mess and muscle work, Mike was hands-on with the contractors: project managing, building, laying the deck and landscaping. The couple were lucky to have a builder in the family – Mike’s brother Nick – and the team from CBD Contracting who made the whole process smooth and problem-free.

BACK TO BASICS Sticking to mainly cosmetic changes to the front of the house, such as painting and installing plantation shutters, the couple decided to drastically alter the rear section. The interior was completely gutted and the entire back living space was rebuilt. A laundry and shower room were added behind the main kitchen, plus a butler’s kitchen complete with commercial coffee maker and second sink. “The butler’s kitchen is perfect for entertaining,” Deb says, “You can hide all the dirty dishes and prepare food out of sight.” An outdoor WC was added, too.

French doors in the living area were replaced with pivot doors to mirror the shutters of Mike’s photographic studio, built in the garage, just metres away from the house across the courtyard.

Home OFFICE

STAGE ONE Breaking up the renovation of the house into two stages, Mike and his builder brother Nick tackled the studio first, converting the large garage (pictured here, in the process of demolition) into a fully functional photographic studio complete with kitchen, which Mike currently uses for food photography.

The garage is converted to a functional photographic studio

The garage is converted to a functional photographic studio

It took just eight weeks to replace the rollerdoor, lay the polished concrete floor, open up the front wall with three huge sliding shuttered doors and create the clean, white, empty space (see right) needed for the studio.

DOUBLE DUTY Despite it being a workspace, the studio can create the illusion of an extra living area. Carefully planned to include the same materials, appliances, table and chair sets and colour palette as the main house, the entire space can act as one when the sliding doors open up to the courtyard, sandwiched between the two buildings.

FINAL TOUCHES

INTERIOR STYLE The decor – Deb’s domain – was styled to suit the new-look space in a simple palette of black, creamy whites and timber, leaving the greenery and sunlight of the outdoors to add natural colour through the huge glass doors and reflective surfaces.

“Deb was in her element cleaning, decorating and styling the house – even at 36 weeks pregnant!” Mike laughs.

PERFECT PLANNING The finished result is just as the couple imagined and well worth the time they spent working on their plans at the very beginning. “It helps to spend a bit of extra time on the finer details,” Mike advises. “You need to work out a solid style idea that you really want and stick to it.” It might also be the reason why their renovation was so drama-free – they knew what they wanted and didn’t budge from it.

“We really love our home,” Deb says. “It’s comfortable and so easy to keep clean and tidy. And with all the open spaces it’s ideal for keeping an eye on Oscar,” she adds.

Final interior design for rooms. Here a recliner chair is used in the readidng room

Final interior design for rooms. Here a recliner chair is used in the readidng room

NEXT CHALLENGE

Mike and Deb aren’t finished yet – they are just about to tackle the front of the house, and are hoping for another pain-free process. “We’re incorporating a large ensuite and walk-in robes in the master bedroom and a new bedroom and space for Oscar,” Deb says. Watch this space!

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Your Handy Hints

Your Handy Hints

In the mix: Sometimes simple solutions are the best for tackling problems around your home . This post provides tips/ and tricks to help you cope with problems you may see everyday, Simple solutions are given for various problems from a very simple problem to more complicated ones for example: how to deal with dusty chalkboard, how to store and maintain seeds, how to a tennis ball can help with washing machine.

CHALKY SOLUTION

A great way to clean a dusty chalkboard is with lemon oil. Apply a few drops of the oil to a clean cloth then simply wipe the board. It doesn’t leave any streaks or stains. A lint-free cloth soaked in cola soft drink works, too. Just make sure you let the board dry before using as writing on a wet chalkboard can cause the chalk to stick! LILY MAY JOHNSON, ALEXANDRIA, NSW

Lemon oil is a good solution to deal with a dusty chalkboard

Lemon oil is a good solution to deal with a dusty chalkboard

SHELF LIFE

Protect kitchen cupboard shelves and drawers from scuff marks and stains by lining them with offcuts of vinyl sheeting. It’s inexpensive and durable. JUDITH CAINE, DONVALE, VIC

Kitchen cupboard shelves and drawers

Kitchen cupboard shelves and drawers

SPUDS AWAY!

To remove the orange stain from your hands after handling a pumpkin, peel a potato, cut it in half and rub hands with the spud. KARLEY DUFF, ROBINA, QLD

Seeds sorted!

If your seed packets are spread throughout the garden shed, here’s a way to get organised. Find a storage box, make dividers from cardboard and label each with the season or month, then simply sort your seed packs into their ideal section. CHELSEA COOPER, WHYALLA, SA

Tennis ball trick

Pop a couple of new tennis balls in the tumble dryer next time you do your laundry (especially towels and quilt covers). The balls increase the space between the items allowing more air to circulate, which decreases drying time and increases the fl uffi ness of the clothes. Just make sure the temperature isn’t too hot as the balls could melt! CARMEN FOSTER, POTTS POINT, NSW

HERE’S A GREAT recycling tip: WHEN YOU NEXT BUY A SHEET SET OR DUVET, KEEP THE plastic packaging. IT’S ROBUST, TRANSPARENT AND THE PRESS-STUD CLOSURES ARE EASY FOR KIDS TO OPEN AND CLOSE. USE TO HOLD JIGSAWS, CRAFT ITEMS, GAMES YVETTE DENNING, OCEAN GROVE, VIC

THE DARK SIDE Wear dark clothing when cleaning mirrors. The spots and smudges show up easily when you are looking at a dark-coloured reflection.

MONIQUE BROCK, GREENSBOROUGH, VIC Banks Round mirror in Oak (83cm), $299, Freedom.

PAPER TRICK

Remove grease or oil from clothing by placing a sheet of kitchen paper towel over the stain and gently ironing over the top. The heat from the iron draws the oil into the paper towel. JESSICA SWINFEN, MACKAY, QLD

WRITE IN TO WIN!

If your hint is published you could win a prize. This month’s writers each win a Shine Shine “Obama” cushion from the Emily Ziz Style Studio, valued at $90. Visit Emilyziz.com for more cool and creative textiles. See page 161 for details on how to write in.

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A House to relax

A House to relax

A relaxed decorating style

The use of raw, earthy materials combined with a relaxed decorating style makes for a warm & welcoming family home.

A relaxed house decor

A relaxed house decor

THERE’S A SOLIDITY and authenticity to Georgia and Justin Letschert’s new-build home that belies its youth. Thick solid stone walls ground the house to its environment, and the interior design is more relaxedrustic- country than anything new or contemporary.

Materials to build a house

For the Letscherts, the choice of material in the build of their home was obvious and singular – concrete. As a result, you won’t find tiles, screed or a lick of paint on the exterior of the house, just cement and granite. “We wanted to use honest materials that would age well,” Justin says. “With time the garden will claim the house anyway and further entrench it in the environment.”

Choices of materials to build the house

Choices of materials to build the house

The couple wanted to create a family home with a good-sized garden for their two young boys – Leo, 6, and Milo, 4. But the wish list for their new home was not an easy one to fulfill. It included a large block of land with a fl at lawn – which would double as a soccer pitch – and a 20m pool. When the couple eventually found the perfect plot they worked with a designer to create their dream home.

“It sounds cliched but our brief was for a house where form follows function in every respect,” Justin says. The generosity of space was a critical requirement and so wherever possible the need for walls was done away with. This was as much a nod to the needs of the children as their love for the luxury of space.

Structure of the house

The house is laid out over three floors with the living areas with luxury table and chair sets, kitchen, Georgia’s study and kids’ playroom all on the ground floor, with verandahs leading out onto the garden. The bedrooms, Justin’s study and a family TV room are on the upper floor.

Kid playroom is added to the house

Kid playroom is added to the house

“The most commonly walked route in any home is to the kitchen and so we measured it, placed the staircase centrally and made every room equidistant to the kitchen,” Justin explains. To counteract less light later in the day, there’s a sequence of skylights, picture windows and a large central sky window above the stairwell.

What the result is

The house is relaxed, organised and the creative haven the couple craved. “Nothing is here just because it looks good,” says Justin, who spent months thinking over every aspect of the house. The interiors endured the same scrutiny from Georgia. “We were lucky in that the eclectic decor could have gone quite wrong if it wasn’t supported by such a raw, architectural structure,” she says.

But, in the end, the couple’s incredible collection of art, furniture and personal possessions has succeeded in complementing rather than competing with the eloquent architecture and the magnificent setting. The house was designed as a place of monumental yet intimate spaces that easily satisfy the practical and aesthetic needs of this dynamic couple and their two children.

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Natural By Design; A homewares designer and her husband decorate their apartment with a nod to nature and a generous dose of Nordic flair

Natural By Design; A homewares designer and her husband decorate their apartment with a nod to nature and a generous dose of Nordic flair
Home interior 3D rendering

Home interior 3D rendering

Natural factors form the basis of a home’s interior

As a teenager, homewares designer Hanne Berzant loved hiking and spent all of her spare time outdoors. The colour combinations, structures and textures of nature provided her with such inspiration that, years later, these natural elements form the basis of her home’s interior.

“I guess you could say that I am deeply in love with nature,” Hanne says. “Throughout my childhood and into my adult life it has been a constant factor – a place where I find peace, inspiration and happiness.”

In 2007, Hanne and her husband Soeren, along with their three daughters, Josefine, 16, Emma, 14, and Anna-Frida, 4, moved into a luxurious 240-sq-m apartment in a leafy neighbourhood. “It was 100 per cent renovated and ready for takeover,” Hanne says of the apartment, which although newly updated, was in desperate need of a vivacious family such as this one to bring it to life. The home has beautiful whitewashed timber floors, elegant stucco ceilings and white doors and floors that feature decorative mouldings.

“The original stucco ceilings lend a great atmosphere to the home,” Hanne says. “But at the same time, they are a beautiful contrast to our collection of modern furniture and accessories.”

The interior is simply decorated with Scandinavian influences, where light, clean lines also create opportunities for darker, more unrefined contrasts. The furniture pieces are timeless and are complemented by soft furnishings and accessories that Hanne designed for By Nord, the homewares business she established with Soeren in 2008.

The colour

On a base of white, the colour palette consists of soothing greys, taupe and hits of black, reminiscent of a Nordic winter landscape. “Unconsciously, I always used nature’s colour palette in my previous work as a graphic designer, whether I was creating a magazine cover or a company’s brand identity program,” Hanne says. It’s only natural, then, that these hues would appear in her own home, too.

To add to this scheme and enhance the natural Scandinavian look she loves so much, Hanne blends a variety of materials such as fur and printed cotton with pale raw timber and only a few touches of metal.

… And Furnishing

The couple furnished every room in their home with a combination of mid-century designer “investment” pieces, as well as treasured hand-me-downs, such as an armchair and a recliner chair that Hanne inherited from her grandparents. These modern elements, with their natural materials and finishes, look right at home in the traditional apartment.

“I feel I’ve been able to create a good balance at our place,” Hanne says. And that goes for daily life as well as decor. “Finding time for everything can be challenging, but I feel that our family, home and business are all evolving well,” – which means Hanne can still squeeze in a few hours, here and there, to spend outdoors exploring nature.

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