Director Dan visits manufacturing facilities and furniture outlets in Mainland China

Dan Valmadre, Director of Renowned Furniture just recently came from a week long trip to China visiting manufacturing facilities and furniture outlets.

 

Here’s what he brought from his trip.

 

Why did you go to China?

I thought it was about time we took a look at what’s happening over there. Over the years, the quality of what came out of China in the furniture market here in Australia was really not a threat or even in the same league of what our master craftsmen produce here.

You did not need to go to China to see it either, there’s plenty of low, medium and so called high end furniture stores right here in Australia that can show you exactly what can come out of China. It seems to me that greed or the demands for massive profits here drive a real disparity between value and quality and this is through no fault of the manufacturers in China, they simply build to order including to scope and specification.

 

What did you see?

To the unsuspecting public, a poorly made piece of furniture is like anything: Well hidden floors & shortcuts will only reveal themselves long after you’ve taken delivery. We refer to this kind of furniture as: “two move furniture” Meaning: You move it more than twice and it falls apart.

Renowned pride themselves on “making tomorrow’s antiques, today” using traditional methods and master craftsmen. The saying is trying to point out that a piece made by Renowned Furniture will still be as good as it was the day you took delivery of it, 100 years later. A big statement but given that we’ve already been around for 40 years and we see furniture from time to time that was made by us in the early years and it’s still going strong, I think we can say it with some good degree of confidence. What I did see in the better facilities there is a heartening degree of recycling, almost zero waste and production efficiencies in manufacture that would need a separate book to fully explain. Let’s just say that when you have a factory the size of a small suburb, there are lots of areas where you raise efficiencies to very high levels and gain big cost benefits.

 

But back to the point or the question, why travel to China to visit furniture stores and manufacturing facilities?

Well, the time has come to better understand the global market and be ready to do business within that arena, or battle as the case may be. Know your enemy or understand and align with your friends. There is always a bottom line nipping at your heels, make a reasonable profit to remain viable and in business and then there’s the moral and ethical issues that challenge you every day. What to do? Sink or swim, join the masses if you can’t compete or carefully select some middle ground with all the issues addressed as best as one possibly can under the circumstances.

I went to find the master craftsmen, I went to see if their living and working standards were good, bad or indifferent. What did you find? Pretty much every extreme. What did you do? I made friends with a group of companies that had an ethos that was relatively aligned. How? I looked at Workplace Health & Safety, I looked at environment, Quality & finish, I saw recycling and waste reduction in process and then I looked at price. At the better factories I visited, I saw, work standards in line with Australian standards. It is quite possible to find and work with likeminded folk there and bring about change that’s mutually beneficial for some products.

 

It’s getting more interesting. A few more on this next week… so watch this space!

 

Where to from here?

As Renowned Furniture grows and we spread our marketing, we are being asked more & more to tender on larger projects. In the past, these invitations were few & far between but always turned down by the previous directors due to the business’s size. These days, we are submitting and starting to win significant projects. (multiple pieces for commercial and public spaces). We can continue to grow and we will, however, there’s another factor at play. Tenderers and Specifiers are almost always price driven, so we have to find the middle ground where business here remains viable and product is deliverable on time and to the right quality level.

 

Is it possible to be both?

I believe we can do both and that would actually make the best sense. To maintain our standing of Australian bespoke craftsman built furniture and be able to cover larger projects by sharing our quality, design & systems with external supply contracts. Meeting with the guys over in China gave me enough confidence to say that the future is bright so long as it’s approached with eyes wide open. The concept of maintaining our manufacturing capabilities as well as working with others on larger projects means that we can provide a very wide scope of offering to our ever growing client base. We can also avoid at the same time, the more painful aspects of growth such as cash-flow and HR by simply shrinking & growing with demand. The world is getting smaller every day and if you look at with that in mind, the global village is your oyster. Engaging contractors to assist with larger projects is nothing new, doing it with an offshore supplier isn’t either. It’s all in the way its managed.

 

Are you worried about being copied?

Ha! We’ve been copied since the day we started and in truth, we’ve copied too albeit to improve a particular design. How can you claim that you designed a chair, a bed or a table? They’ve been with us since the dawn of time in so many forms. Any direct copies are viewed as flattery, if we saw a product out there that stated it’s a “Renowned copy”, I’d probably post it on Tumbler, Pinterest, Twitter  and anywhere else I thought it might get some airplay because it just means we’re leaders and innovators as well as bloody good designers and craftsmen.

 

Good Problems

Renowned Furniture recently underwent a rebrand and added a fresh approach to their marketing. These initiatives are paying big dividends.

from l-r: our  mission, shop front

from l-r: our mission, shop front

 shop front 2 RF

We are suffering from growing pains and identifying areas where we have had to implement new systems and process to keep track of delivery promises, client requests, build slots, work in progress and so on. At a time when our industry suppliers such as high end timber suppliers, polish and paint suppliers and so on, are telling us “It’s still fairly quiet out there”, Renowned Furniture is at full pace with work load and it’s looking like it’s going to continue to grow out past the end of this year.

Some of the OEM projects such as Specfurn is progressing well

spec furn RF

and the church furniture is starting to grow and fill all the available space we have. We have also recently acquired additional space in an adjoining industrial shed.

Here’s just some of what’s going on here at Renowned at this point in time.

We have collections of furniture scheduled out a few weeks

upper l-r : birch ply work stations, cedar sidetables for restoration bottom l-r: birch ply tops, oak rattan restorations

upper l-r : birch ply work stations, cedar sidetables for restoration bottom l-r: birch ply tops, oak rattan restorations

 

and return deliveries to clients being supported by a local furniture removal company

caption - top: antique oak repair bottom l-r: oak extension,silky oak and inlay oak tables in the que, cedar table restoration

caption – top: antique oak repair
bottom l-r: oak extension,silky oak and inlay oak tables in the que, cedar table restoration

so that we can keep up the pace and not waste valuable craftsman time on deliveries. These are all the good problems that many of our counterparts are only dreaming of.

Also, one of our team members, Alna has spent the last few months working our brand and keeping the Renowned detail high on the internet search engines profiles and the strategy is starting to pay big dividends.

Life Comes to Newness- A sweet surprise

You might remember our story “Life Comes to Newness”. Well the owner, Jim contacted Renowned Furniture and asked that the piece be delivered to the Pineapple Hotel in Brisbane at 10:30 on a Sunday ready for his wife’s 50th birthday celebration.

tallboy bigger logo2

This tallboy was the surprise

We did that and Jim then kindly asked if I could return at 2:00 pm to watch the presentation of the tallboy to his wife so that he could introduce his wife to the company that did the restoration. I accepted the invitation. You might remember that it was Jim’s wife’s’ great grandfather that actually felled the trees and milled the timber and built the tallboy originally for his wife back in the 1870’s. Needless to say, the piece was very precious to Jim’s wife, Louise.

the reaction to the surprise RF

The picture here says it all

Louise was over the moon and never ever thought that she’d get to see the piece returned back to its original glory as it was. The meeting with Louise after the surprise presentation was an honour and we reflected on another few things worth mentioning.

Louise & Jim went through the floods of 2011 only weeks after Jim had been made redundant from his job of several years and then got told by his insurance company that their policy that had been paid for 20 years did not cover this kind of flood. (Don’t get me started on that topic!) So their struggle began after the waters subsided and the volunteer army came in to help. Here’s the big statement that I have wanted to make for many years now and Louise reminded me of it when telling me of her anguish during that clean up. The volunteer army although well intended, like so many people do not understand the characteristics of genuine solid timber furniture. As quickly as the army of volunteers threw out parts of her tallboy, she was running to skip bins to rescue them. When solid timber furniture gets wet, yes, it swells but when it dries out it returns to its original size meaning it does not need to be thrown out after a flood, just restored. If we go back through history and try to imagine what we would have lost if every time there was a flood, we threw out all the furniture, there would be no antiques! The only furniture that needs throwing out after a flood probably would have needed throwing out soon enough anyway, flood or no flood! MDF/Craftwood/plywood/chipboard/particle board/”solidcore”/veneer board, call it what you like but this is the kind of furniture that will not make it through a flood and while it has its place and some of it has been around for many years, it’s not solid timber furniture and after it deforms and swells, it’s mostly unrepairable.

The tallboy restoration was like so many that we do here at Renowned Furniture. It’s not just about the piece, there’s always an amazing human story to go with it so much so that I think I could write a book but most importantly, this job is one that provides satisfaction and soul food almost every day.

White Oak Heaven

  • Project Title: Seventh Day Adventist Church
  • Project Type: Furniture supply
  • Project Description: To design and build all of the furniture for a Southeast Queensland church within budget and acceptable timeframe to coincide with the churches plans. All of the furniture will be made using White Oak
  • Start Date: August 11, 2014

Latest Update – November 27, 2014

The Seventh Day Adventist church is nearing completion for us. We have had a very interesting ride with this job. Keeping the mix of local and offshore manufacture, maintaining quality (bringing the offshore pieces up to our standard after their arrival prior to delivery) and ensuring client satisfaction remains at 100%.

IMG_2370 RF

The pieces are all coming together nicely and the fact that our guys have had to rectify some defects and repair some transit damage to the offshore pieces just further bolsters our faith in the project as a whole and the way we successfully blended the two sources, “A match made in heaven” 🙂

 collage1 RF

 

Before we sign off on the project (worth more than $240,000.00), we will conduct final quality checks and then put our name to it.

collage4 rf 

Renowned is a specialised company so managing projects of this size is a bit of a step up for us. Our managing director was previously in the mining industry (running a company he founded that was turning over several millions of dollars per annum) where managing projects 10 times this size was commonplace so the business side was well covered.

collage3 rfa

Our craftsmen have seen another side to their own industry first hand and while the early stages of this project saw a little in trepidation from their perspective, we feel that it has been an extremely positive learning experience where we now have master craftsmen thinking globally.


Update – September 22, 2014

The next phase is to complete assembly and start sealing & polishing. The pulpit is completed and awaiting its final coat of 2 pack polish,

 whiteoak photo 1 rf

The 6 priest’s chairs have been completed with 3 in final sanding and 3 in final polishing.

churchchairs2 RF

 



COMPLETE PIECES

As of September 17, 2014

altar RF3

Here’s the altar table completed. The SDA logo has been carved into the top of the table, then filled with a 2 pack clear resin (it’s about 3 to 5 mm deep) to give it that 3 dimensional look and then 2 pack clear isolac topcoat for long lasting durability. The solid oak table is designed to match the pulpit and the altar chairs.


ASSEMBLY

August 27, 2014

 Here, you’ll see the 6 majestic priest altar chairs being finally assembled, the white oak altar table

whiteoak collage2 RF

whiteoak collage1 RF

and the pulpit.

white-oak-pulpit-RF

Again, there is the Seventh Day Adventist logo carved into each piece as well.

table-top-carved-logo-RF2

 


August 11, 2014

It was announced today that Renowned Furniture won the bid to design and build all of the furniture for a southeast Queensland church.

The director, Dan Valmadre, said that the team were over the moon and had worked very hard to provide the right solution for the church within budget and in an acceptable timeframe to coincide with the churches plans. All of the furniture will be made using White Oak or depending on who you speak to, American oak. “We like to think we’re in “white oak heaven” at present “, Valmadre said. “As it has given the company some real street credibility on a number of fronts. Most importantly, the proof that quarter million dollar projects are well within our scope of capabilities. “, he added.

white oak 1a RF

“It’s simple really, you just start at the beginning and follow a quality management system for both “Just in time” procurement and “In process” quality control and the rest just sorts itself out as a result of good training & management.”, Valmadre said. “We’ve started on the procurement and at present we’re building the altar furniture comprising of 6 priests’ chairs, an alter table and a pulpit.”

Renowned have also provided additional features such as the Adventist logo (comprising of an open bible with a cross and the 2 flames or angles arising pictured below) to be carved into all the furniture for that special touch. We’ll keep updates on the construction coming if anyone’s interested.

white oak 7th-day-RF

The “Trex”

Renowned were contacted recently by a company that imports a “wood alternative decking” material called Trex.

trex deck 2 copy

Our fine skills and special timber jointing technology were enlisted to help build a display deck at the front of the AWS warehouse for sales evenings and demo displays.. Naturally, it had to look perfect so Renowned’s craftsmen got to go on an ‘out of the ordinary’ field trip to assist the guys at AWS with their new venture.

trex collage 2 RF

Floor Talk with Alexander Lotersztain

talkwith-Alexlogo

Renowned Furniture attended a seminar entitled “Floor Talk with Alexander Lotersztain”. Held at QUT Art Museum last June 5th, Alex talked about his work, Plantation 2007, featured in featured in WOOD: art design architecture, followed by a discussion about one of his most recent projects, the redesign of The Pantry at Old Government House.

 

Alex Lotersztain is a Director of Derlot Pty Ltd., a multi-disciplinary studio focusing on projects including furniture, branding, hotel design, interior design and art direction for national and international clients.

Derlot Editions is a co-brand of Derlot and produces a range of Australian made furniture and lighting for the contract and domestic markets and distributed worldwide. Alex has participated in exhibitions in London, Tokyo, Milano, New York, San Francisco, Berlin and Moscow, and one of his designs is part of the design Collection at the Pompidou Museum in Paris. Recently, Derlot and collaborators Cox Rayner Architects and Aurecon were awarded the Brisbane Australia Ferry Terminal project. The winning design proposal is adaptable to different terminal locations and incorporates a number of green design strategies.

This program was held in partnership with QUT Design Student Collective, The Dub. The same group who invited us for the launch of their magazine, D/zine last June 18th.

 

Sponsorship of D/Zine

Renowned Furniture has recently been invited to sponsor and attend the launching of D/Zine, a university based magazine published each semester by The Dub – a design collective set up by students of the new School of Design within the QUT Creative Industries faculty.

Held at Jamie’s Espresso at James St. on June 18th, the launch went well with attendance of about 100 people including sponsors, university staff and students and friends.There were speeches acknowledging our significant contribution. And everyone who attended the event received a copy of the latest edition of the D/ZINE and invited to partake in the emerging artist auction.

dzine111

The magazine’s latest issue had the theme ‘design narrative’. The meaning of design process and storytelling through the works of local and international designers and artists were explored by the feature stories. Page 2 of the mag has a full page picture of one of our pieces taken from the website! 🙂

 IMG_4232-blurred1-199x300

The café (Jamie’s Espresso bar) was pumping with tunes by Mat the cool DJ (who also helped me with the furniture) The free food and drinks were a hit too.

dzine112

We are proud to take part of this event as we support fresh new talent and up and coming young designers.
dzine113-1030x772

We believe recognition and extending their creative network is important for young creatives.

News Flash! The Twins

We at Renowned Furniture have started clearing out our showroom stock to make way for some of our new amazing designs. Some of the pieces being offered are 2013 winners that we entered in the state and national furniture design and manufacture awards.

 

Chris has snapped up “The Twins” for almost half price and has them in pride of place at his western suburbs home.

twins collage0709

A stunning set of coffee/occasional tables made from Queensland walnut and ‘grain matched’ when they are placed together.

 0709_Twins together

These two pieces also have a flash of polished steel inlayed with tapered legs.

0709_Twinsapart