Text: Jan Henderson
Australian design is something we are all passionate about and when there is an opportunity for excellent local companies, that share the same vision, to work together, then the results are bound to be exceptional. Take Instyle and Workshopped, who presented a new range of products last night at the Instyle showroom in Melbourne. It was a launch with many streams, beautiful fabrics and wall coverings in new colours and amazing textures, and a new, well almost new, furniture range.
Making their debut last night were wall coverings made from cork with the most exquisite colours and textures. Gold, silver and bronze have been incorporated into the Pietra, Gilded Cork and Cubism ranges that have been fashioned from sliced cork and the effect is a texture that shimmers and shines in an almost incandescent way. Instyle also released 11 more colours to add to its Ecoustic collection that consists of felt, panel and screen products as well as Ecoustic Moov, the first tile product within the range. A new wool fabric, Calibre was introduced, as was Elmotique a pure aniline leather.
At the event was someone integral to the processes of fabric, but he was not a designer or architect. Michael Blake from Bally Glunin Park is a farmer and produces some of the finest wool in Australia. He markets his product to the mills that make fabrics for Instyle. He is passionate about the quality of his wool and the journey it makes from farm to seat cushion. Only a portion of one percent of all wool produced is good enough to be made into the Instyle woollen fabrics and special care is required when raising the sheep that produce the precious wool, such as shearing the animals only when the wool fibre is a certain length. Great care is taken during the production period and this ensures that the end product exceeds expectations.
Along with the new fabrics, a range of furniture is now on the floor, but this is not just any furniture. The nine products that make up the core of the Mid Century collection are modelled on favourite Parker pieces that have been revisted, reworked and given a modern twist for our contemporary lifestyle. Some 60 years ago Parker Furniture was de rigueur and found in every Australian family home, but the doors closed for the company in 1997.
Move forward to 2012 and meet two men with a shared vision, Michael Lewy from Covemore Design and Raymond Scott from Workshopped. Lewy once worked at Parker Furniture and was still in contact with Tony Parker, last of the founding family who worked in the business. Lewy had an idea: to bring back the ethos, quality and design of Parker Furniture in a new way. Through a collaboration, Covemore Design and Workshopped worked with Tony Parker to deliver the updated designs of chairs, tables, buffet, sofa and ottoman to the floor of Workshopped and, through another partnership, Instyle.
Instyle has always embraced sustainability through the fabrics it sells and its suppliers’ practices. Covemore Design and Workshopped are also focused on a work practice that is sustainable and products that are here for the long-term.
Tony Parker embraces sustainability too; after all, his furniture has stood the test of time, and he is determined that this range will also become heirloom pieces to hand down to the next generation.
So this is an Australian success story where grower, artisan, manufacturer and retailer meet and together they share a vision of fine Australian products. When you next sit on an upholstered sofa, think about the wool and its provenance and decide whether the design will last the test of time, because if you can’t tick the boxes, then there is a collection of furniture and fabric that can. What a fine union this is and you can stamp it ‘Australian Made’.