Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 23 Summer 2009 Contents 100 INSITE SUMMER
T E X T: Nathan Scolaro, Jessica Matthews and Jake Millar PORTRAITS: Aaron Bunch
From cost-e ective designs geared at tackling the financial crisis to exquisite native pieces promoting
our own Australian identity, this year's Furnishing Industry Association of Australia (FIAA) Awards had
everyone talking for all the right reasons.
It's been a turbulent year for furniture
designers across the country with the
economic crisis putting business into
fourth gear. But this hasn't stopped
some of our top companies from delivering
In fact, the 2009 Australian Furniture of
the Year Awards have seen a bigger, bolder,
more adventurous statement in design than
ever before, with each entry throwing light
to the phrase: when the going gets tough, the
tough get going.
Chief executive of FIAA(WA) Ian Hearn says
the quieter period has encouraged designers
to really think outside the square and explore
new methods and styles in their work.
"If our industry is going to survive in a
world that's increasingly competitive, then it
has to be resourceful and cutting edge," Ian
says. " is year has put that into perspective
I think. e global recession has seen many
of our designers work even more creatively
to maintain sales."
We've had another silver lining in this
cloud of financial gloom with the weakened
value of the Australian dollar forcing exports
up by 42 percent.
West Australian companies' Lounge
Innovation and Jamel Industries are seeing
the benefits of their joint showrooms in
Dubai, and other businesses are finding
a market with wealthier clients across
"Obviously it'll be tougher to
maintain these markets with our dollar
strengthening," says Ian. "But the
innovation we're seeing from this year's
award winners in particular is proof that the
industry is moving forward and not sitting
on its hands waiting for someone to wave a
is year designers also sought new ways
of getting more bang for their buck. e
challenge, says Ian, is striking a balance
between applying cost-effective processes
and materials and maintaining the quality of
"A good example of this is from Clarecraft
with their Esperance Suite, where extra
veneer and pine timber was used for drawer
slides and slats without compromising the
quality of the suite.
" e Slip Art sofa collection by Lounge
Innovation is also cost-effective for the
consumer in that the covers can be easily
washed or dry cleaned, even replaced in a
different colour and pattern to keep up with
Each year the FIAA awards bring us one
step closer to a distinct Australian identity in
furniture design. is year was no exception
with entries showcasing a range of native
timbers and styles.
Jahroc's Best of the Best "Project
Kimberley" collection saw designer
Gary Bennett draw inspiration from his
experiences along the West Kimberley
"It's a fantastic example of furniture
design that is characteristically Australian,"
says Ian. " is is what we need to be working
towards -- our own unique market. And
we're getting there. Companies are realising
that their competition is international
manufacturers, not Australian."
e annual FIAA awards recognise
outstanding achievement in areas of
innovation and design, value for money,
excellence in manufacturing, supply and
retail and student design.
More than 600 industry guests attended
this year's gala at the Perth Convention
Centre, with winners announced in 15 WA
categories and 11 Australian categories.
Here Insite profiles a selection of WA
winners and their designs, and asks them
about the future of the industry.
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