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Australian Design Review sits down with one-half of the Beeline Design team, erstwhile fashion designer Lucy Grant, to hear the studio’s story and find out about its very first collaboration with Zenith Interiors – the rural Australia-inspired Ridge Collection.
ADR: You started Beeline with Adam Brislin in 2010, how did you meet and why did you decide to go into business?
Lucy Grant: We met when were both living in London – our first trip together was to Milan for Salone del Mobile and that really sparked an idea between us. We eventually moved back to my hometown of Melbourne and Adam was working as a furniture maker and started tinkering in our shed making pieces for our home. Soon friends were asking him to make pieces for them. In 2010 he had outgrown our back shed and took on a space in a makers’ co-operative in Preston called Worco, which housed about 16 other businesses from different trade backgrounds. It was at this point I was starting to have more input into design and the direction it should go in, so Beeline Design was born. We have tried to keep our growth slow and steady – releasing our first full range in 2015 allowed Adam to start making full-time.
What are your individual roles within the business?
We design and develop all of our pieces together, but Adam manages the workshop and production side of the business while I run the administration and marketing. When designing together our respective backgrounds really inform our ideas and development. Adam’s technical understanding allows us to create the forms and my commercial design background helps refine the aesthetics.
What is the overriding design ethos behind Beeline?
Our focus is on creating pieces for modern living with an emphasis on clean and simple lines – refined shapes that feature details unique to us. Every range has an aspect of something we see as on-trend, but that we have interpreted in a way that doesn’t fade out with the trend. We also try and create a softness to all of our pieces, a lot of round shapes and curved edges is a continuing theme to our collections. We don’t want each new collection to be a replacement for the last but more of an evolution.
Who came up with the flying bee logo?
We knew we wanted a strong maker’s mark. The worker bee perfectly encapsulates what we are about – industrious and a symbol of community, which goes back to our position in the co-operative.
How did it come the new partnership with Zenith come about and why was the Ridge Collection selected?
In designing the Ridge Collection, it was our intention for it to be a range that would work in both residential and commercial spaces. We approached Zenith to explore the possibility of commercial applications as we were familiar with a number of their projects and also the fact they already represented a number of Australian brands we respected. It turned out they were already familiar with the Ridge Collection and felt it would be a good fit in their range.
Ridge was inspired by the corrugated iron sheds of outback and rural Australia; do your other ranges have similar stories behind them?
Our Ridge Collection is probably our most highly resolved in terms of how we took our inspiration and executed it. In saying that, it was a long period of experimentation to find a way to use the material and finish it into perfectly formed cylinders without welding or riveting. Our previous range, the Cuba Collection, came from our bed design with its ‘cigar’ shaped posts. Often our inspiration comes from a particular material we are interested in and trying to find a different way of using it. Our first collection was about copper and brass sheets, our next was the leather of our Cuba Collection, which we carried over in the Ridge and integrated it with the corrugated metal by hand-applying it to create a ‘pleated fabric’ look. In our next collection we want to incorporate glass and more texture timber elements.
What else can you tell us about the collection?
We make all of our pieces in our Melbourne workshop – each piece is designed to maximise the use of the material and minimise wastage with the majority of wastage being recycled into other pieces. We also work with other local businesses to recycle their unused materials and divert them from landfill. These materials are used in the internals of our Ridge pieces. Colour selections for us are very important; while a lot of our commercial clients favour the more neutral colours our residential clients gravitate towards the bold colours like Raspberry and Crimson. We want our customers to see our furniture as investment pieces – quality craftsmanship and clean simple design to withstand the test of time.
What are your future plans for the Beeline brand?
We are looking forward to growing our business with Zenith. Our cooperative has just moved to a larger manufacturing space, so we are better equipped to take on larger project work.
We also have the space for a showroom there, so look forward to being able to open that midway through this year. We have plans for more additions to the Ridge Collection and also have a new collection in the pipeline for this year. We want to continue grow our brand as a recognised name in well designed and handcrafted Australian furniture.