CLEVER COUNTRY SHOWS ITS STYLE
WHETHER you slave away sitting at it, sit on it or watch cable- TV while lying on it, Australian furniture stacks up against the world’s best. That’s the view of the judges of the 12th Annual Australian Furniture of Year Awards, which were announced at a gala event at the Perth Convention Centre last Saturday.
The Best of the Best award, a culmination of all 12 categories, was won by International Cabinets with a table design ( see separate story).
Entrants from all over Australia competed in the 12 awards, which included native/ plantation timber, leather, fabric, sleep sets, dining furniture, bedroom furniture, reconstituted timber, manufacturing/ marketing and retailing.
Queensland manufacturer Lyon Furniture of Australia won two categories, excellence in using native timber and also plantation timber, for the innovative use of different wood to highlight their designs - which the judges decided were both practical and modern.
The highly anticipated Student Design Award, which features a prize to study design overseas, was won by Trinh Duy Dao, a student at Lidcombe TAFE in Sydney’s west for the Rolla chair.
The awards recognise outstanding achievements in innovation, design, manufacturing and workmanship.
The Australian furniture industry employs over 80,000 people and contributes over $ 8 billion a year to the nation’s economy.
Ian Hearn, CEO of the FIAA in Western Australia, says the awards are growing faster as the industry realises the significance of Australian made.
The awards, ‘‘ recognise and rewards quality and excellence in the Australian furnishing industry’’, he says. ‘‘ The standard of entries in this year’s awards made the judges’ decisions extremely difficult.
‘‘ The quality of design, workmanship and materials showcase the world standards of Australian furniture.’’
Australia has a rich history of furniture design, including the likes of Marc Newson, who is the current toast of the design world.
The student winner has a choice of a two- week furniture design course in Milan, Paris or London.
The judges of the Australian Furniture of the Year Awards are Carlo Gosatti, winner of the 2005 Best of the Best, Patrick Beale, former Dean of the Architecture facility at University of Western Australia, and furniture industry identity Rod McLean.
Other designs that make you want to reach for the credit cards include the Mischa sofa, armchair and wine chair by Queensland’s Contour Furniture. The furniture is tailored in Australian- made fleur fabric with matching armchair and ordinated wine chair, say the manufacturers.
‘‘ The Mischa lends a feeling of warmth and comfort to any room,’’ they add. ‘‘ Available in seven colours this suite can be co- ordinated with any decor.
‘‘ With Dunlop stamina foam seats and luxurious poly- fibre back cushions the Mischa will offer generous cushion comfort for many years to come.’’
Then there’s the Rolltop writing desk, made from solid areucaria or Queensland hoop pine by Lyon Furniture.
Lyon have been building rolltops since 1985 increasingly for computer use. ‘‘ This desk is for those who like to sit, read and write instead,’’ say the makers.
Western Australian manufacturer Obelli Design Studio also won for its hi- tech Bella Bianca sixseater corner sofa and ottoman.
‘‘ This hand- crafted design shows off its character without square edges or corners,’’ says the maker. ‘‘ A clever combination of pure white leather and handmade steel legs highlights the design lines of tomorrow.
‘‘ Intentional creasing of the seat and back is a feature created by feathers and the latest in seating technology: Astro Gel Cushioning.
‘‘ This design is displayed as a six- seater corner unit with ottoman which can be converted into a bed with ease.’’
Last year’s Western Australian Furniture Award student design winner, Aaron Thredgold, recently commented on the boost the award has given him in the industry.
He initially impressed the judges with his outdoor/ commercial bench Fallen Giants, which used brushed stainless steel and off- cuts of recycled jarrah and karri retrieved from local salvage yards.
Now in the process of setting up his own business as a designer and maker of furniture, Aaron says the award has been positive for his career and hopes it will encourage other young designers into the Australian furniture industry.
Australian furniture delivers better quality, construction and materials to the consumer, Thredgold said after winning last year.
‘‘ Local products are designed and made to last and can be passed down through generations, not like the short- term fix of cheap imports,’’ he said.