WORDS Steve Smith PHOTOS Supplied
Outlining exactly what goes into making a high-end piece of designer furniture, Houtlander‘s director Phillip Hollander talks to us about the brand’s Tambour drinks cabinet.
“The first item to feature our sliding tambour doors was the credenza and, after developing that product, we fell in love with how beautifully simple the mechanism of a tambour door is. It’s a perfect match for our accurate machining capability and desire to use materials sensibly. When asking the question, ‘What else could we do with this clever sliding door?’, a drinks cabinet came to mind.
“The tambour style was quite popular in the Mid-century furniture movement, and we have put our own contemporary twist on this classic. The rest of the range shares the visual language of the drinks cabinet but has very different functions, such as a TV unit or home-office storage space. We have thrown some ideas around to add to the tambour range, but we are not planning any new designs at the moment. We try to be prudent when it comes to adding new items to any range.”
The Creative Methodology
“Having journeyed into the world of design by starting off initially as makers, Houtlander has a strong preference to design in the physical form. Although we use mediums such as paper, whiteboards and CAD, we try to get to a physical object as soon as possible. From there we start to iterate; we draw on the physical object, cut away, glue back, etc. This allows us to be collaborative in the design process, instead of one person sitting in front of a computer working in isolation. Once we are happy with the physical object, we translate that back into the 3D model.”
Ergonomics and Engineering
“I would describe this as experience: you can only truly understand the limits of natural materials such as timber by pushing past them. We have made many mistakes by treading the thin line between structural integrity and our visually light aesthetic – but pushing the boundary is the best way to learn. Every new product has to be developed and altered until we get to a point where the ergonomics are correct. We then start designing the manufacturing process to get the product to be commercially viable; this usually includes making of templates and jigs, and refining CNC programs until the product can be made repeatedly in our workshop.”
“We use oak almost exclusively. It’s the most common hardwood available, it’s sustainable, and it’s well understood in the market. We use hardwood so that we can be sure that our products are strong and durable, hopefully lasting for generations to come.”