Interview

Nick Garnham PLUS Behind the Scenes at Jardan!

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Friday 17th September 2010

Jardan‘s colourful current collection – including Archie couch, Flynn stools, Alby pouf and much more…!

I have extreme love for this tiny couch in crazy brave fabric..

DREAM COUCH.  (The beautiful Nook).

Beautiful Clementine Sideboard and dining chairs that I can’t remember their name.

Jardan’s amazing Pop-Up shop, shared with Richmond Lighting for Saturday in Design (actually it’s still there temporarily if you want to visit!)

Jardan’s amazing Pop-Up shop, shared with Richmond Lighting

It is my firm belief that 98% of people hate their couch.  I hate mine.  I only know 2 people who love their couches.  In my mind, this means that 98% of people are permanently in the market for a new one.  But, most people seem to have no idea where to start.  It is, after all, a very overwhelming (and usually expensive) decision…. the kind of decision that sits on the backburner for at least 5 years in most cases!

Well, I’m here to tell you that if you’re in the market for a beautifully designed couch (or sideboard, or coffee table, or dining setting, for that matter), there is one local company that designs and makes everything right here in Melbourne.  Their pieces are truly beautiful and extremely well made.  They’re GECA green accredited and employ 80 talented local craftspeople.  And Nick Garnham, who runs the place, is just a really nice guy.  So if, like me, you hate your couch, I think a trip to Jardan might be in order.

Jardan designs some of the most beautiful Australian-made furniture money can buy.  And truly, it is not even that expensive.  I have long been a fan of Jardan’s work, but for some reason I always assumed they were some multi-national conglomerate. Not so!  Jardan is a family owned business, born and bred in Melbourne… and, incredibly, ALL their production still takes places in their Melbourne factory – right behind their stunning showroom in Mt Waverley.  AMAZING, no?!   Nothing gets me quite as hyped as a successful local  environmentally responsible design company run by REALLY NICE PEOPLE.  Jardan ticks all those boxes and more.

I was so thrilled to visit Jardan HQ recently and get a personal behind-the-scenes tour from Nick!  I must say it was during this visit that they really won me over!  :)  Because whilst many would have you believe that local manufacture can’t possibly compete with overseas production, Jardan proves that if you prioritise beautiful design and ethical production standards, it is possible to run (and grow!) a successful and respected design and manufacture business right here in Melbourne.

ALSO It was so uplifting to meet the entire team working behind the scenes – and to learn that everyone at Jardan, from the designers to the sales team to the cutters, machinists, upholsterers and framers… all of them are just really well looked after and super happy to be there!   The team are a incredible multicultural mix of people from all walks of life… and let me tell you – they’re not shy in front of the camera!  In most workplaces I am used to people disappearing as soon as I take my camera out – at Jardan the guys in the factory couldn’t get enough of me!  Everyone wanted  to chat and have their photo taken… I am having guilt pangs that I wasn’t able to photograph them all!  Sorry guys!

I must say an enormous thankyou to Nick and all the team who were so accommodating (and entertaining!)  during my visit!  I hope this little interview and behind-the-scenes might inspire you to bypass Ikea next time you need a new piece of furniture…. you won’t regret it!

ps) please note that Jardan does not sell direct to the public – but anyone is welcome to make an appointment and check out their stunning range at the Jardan showroom in Mt Waverley.  Purchases can then be made through a retailer or interior designer / architect.    Jardan furniture retails through Thomas Gannan, Hermon & Hermon, and other retailers listed here.  Check out the full range on the Jardan website!

READ ON for my interview with down-to-earth Jardan company director / designer Nick, who likes to talk about surfing even more than he likes to talk about furniture :)

In the timber workshop – Left – Wayne (Framemaker) and that’s Nick on the right.

Tell us a little about your background – What path originally led you to furniture design and manufacture, and to building the Jardan brand?

My family took over Jardan in 1997 which at that time had gone into bankruptcy. We had no background in furniture, but thought we would have a try at it anyway.   I had studied business but always had a hankering for architecture, so when our original designer left 5 years later I started having a go at design.

How has Jardan grown since the early days?

We started out in with only a little factory and 8 staff, and we now employ 80 staff with an upholstery and a timber factory and showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

More and more Australian furniture brands are moving offshore for their production – why has it been your priority to keep Jardan products made in Melbourne, and is it a constant challenge to compete with overseas manufacturing?

We like to keep it local as we have a great team of designers and craftsmen and are proud to be able to provide a livelihood for our employees and hopefully make some good Aussie furniture!

Also making in Melbourne allows us to draw on the expertise of a network of interesting little factories to source componentry; we can customise our product easily, offer quick turnaround and control our quality. As everything we do is very personalised and or customised, it would be very tricky to outsource the manufacturing offshore.

It’s also fun to make stuff!

Roddy in design and development (the only camera-shy guy!)

Pattern cutting area and fabrics!

Upholstery cutters – Luis (top) and Cuong (bottom)

Jardan is committed to ecologically responsible design and manufacture. Why has green accreditation been a priority for you, and can you give us some examples of the measures taken at Jardan to ensure your furniture is as sustainable as it can be?

We have a full environmental policy which covers the componentry, manufacturing techniques, recycling and waste minimisation. There is also an ethical aspect of providing a good working environment for our employees.

The green accreditations we have, including GECA, have helped us to formalise all our environmental initiatives.

Measures taken include the change to water based stains and glues; fabric, foam, leather, paper, plastic and steel waste from production and administration is collected for re-use, re-purposing or recycling. We use CFC free foams. Our timbers are sourced from sustainable forests and carry further AFS or FSC accreditations.

How is your business structured and how many people do you employ?

We have a pretty flat structure where myself and two brothers look after the management and running of the company.  We employ around 80 staff… 60 in the factory, 4 people in design and development and 16 in sales marketing and admin.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Just trying to keep the whole show rolling along – keeping in touch with sales, marketing, design and production teams… dealing with problems, liaising with clients and suppliers and perhaps thinking of some new good designs and ideas to grow the business.

Top image – Caught on camera – Nick sneaks his jeans in to machinist Elisabeth to have them mended!  Bottom – machinist Chen.

What are you most proud of professionally?

The ability to provide employment for our staff and sustain a manufacturing business in Melbourne and hopefully to design and make some fresh original furniture.

The cutting tables

Upholstery cutters Joe and Luis flash me a smile :)

Upholstery cutter Terry – very happy to have his photo taken!

Where do you turn for creative inspiration for furniture and interiors – books, international magazines, the internet, your environment, travel, nature, family or friends… etc?

All of the above and just keeping an eye out everywhere you go… especially in junk shops or old beach houses and imagining what furniture I would like to live with.

Which other designers, architects or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

All people who make imaginative designs or create interesting music, art, graphics, photography…

Upholsterers Warren (top) and Con (bottom).

What would be your dream project?

Simply having someone enjoy living with the furniture we create.

Ottoman patterns (and my feet?)

What are you looking forward to?

Going to Mentawai Islands in Sumatra on a boat with a few mates and surfing my brains out…

Melbourne Questions –

Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

Not really into the city… so anywhere on the coast where there are waves.

Your favourite bookstore in Melbourne for reference books and inspiration?

The Avenue Bookstore, Albert Park.

Where / what was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

Fathers day brekky in bed.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Corsair Rock.

Timber workshop!  Beautiful natural light…

Top image – cabinet makers Nathan and Sean work together.  Bottom image – framemaker Dave cuts timber for couch frames.

Best smile of the day from Polisher Mark in the wet room!

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Friday 17th September 2010

24 comments

  • Georgina 4 years ago

    Thank s Lucy, cant get enough of Jardan.
    Check there website daily for the new pieces, I loooove that quirky little sofa.

  • Jackie 4 years ago

    Great post Lucy. I have always loved Jardan’s furniture, but now even more so after this post, as I know that the furniture is produced by talented, well-looked after, local people! Nick seems like a lovely down to earth person. Will start saving my pennies!

  • Kate James 4 years ago

    Lucy this is a fabulous post and makes me love Jardan even more than I already did. I’m still saving for two new sofas but I wouldn’t buy them anywhere else. How great that they are such gorgeous people as well as making beautiful furniture. I’d love to see more businesses in Australia replicate this model…it’s a great move away from planned obsolescence. Truly inspiring.

  • Lynn 4 years ago

    So nice to see great design and made in Australia!

  • alex sunday 4 years ago

    such a great interview! i really admire that nick’s proudest professional achievement is employing his team. on the back of having signature prints as your guest blogger, it’s great to see companies doing brilliant creative work, and ensuring it can be done in australia. and our role as consumers is to buy their lovely wares. it’s win win!

  • New Style Order 4 years ago

    Thanks for another great post Lucy. I never knew Jardan was an Aussie brand, like you I also assumed it was foreign / international. I agree with your sofa philosophy, although I don’t quite hate mine I do covet others. This was a great way to start my day!

  • jess 4 years ago

    so lovely to see an australian company still producing right here. inspiring. thanks lucy.

  • MildlyCrafty 4 years ago

    Great interview. I’ve bookmarked a couple of pieces as possibles for our new house (hopefully will be finished in a few months!).

    There’s also Arthur G who make their sofas in Melbourne too. I’ve had 2 of the “David”s (they look better in real life than on the website!) for about three years and they’re well made and very comfortable.

  • Jiah Sarah Jane Ridley 4 years ago

    I love love love Jardan! I actually sell their furniure and have so much admiration for them. There is no other company quite like them. Unfortunately I am one of the 98% of people who hates my sofa. I had a very specific space to fill and Jardan didn’t have anything that quite fit so I went for second best and got something plain…and then Jardan released the Nook which is so ridiculously gorgeous and would have fit perfectly. I feel sad about it every day…

  • tess 4 years ago

    It’s so great that through TDF we all learn the behind-the-scenes of local companies that support & employ local craftspeople. Tops work again Lucy and hooray Jardan!

  • jess 4 years ago

    A second/third everyone’s comments – awesome post (the first picture looks like couch lollies!) and great to see encouragement of Australian design and production.

  • Lauren Tyacke 4 years ago

    Fantastic interview! Jardan’s range is so beautiful and I had no clue they were Australian. More of the Aussie success stories please!!

  • make my day 4 years ago

    GREAT STORY!!!! worth the late night…Beautiful furniture..thanks.

  • Enjoying our chairs 4 years ago

    Thanks Lucy! Great post! We purchased two fantastic Jardan chairs a while back. The whole process was great: looking at their beautiful brochures, visiting their super friendly and handsome showroom, ordering through their suppliers- just great. Everyone genuinely loved the furniture they were selling and were proud of their work. Their environmental sustainability focus is a great example for others to follow. We now LOVE living with our chairs too!

  • Liss 4 years ago

    I agree couches is SUCH a hard decision. I think thats why go for free or cheap ones. Lately all my couches have been given to me. I LOVE these couches and the sideboard, Ill have one of each please!

  • Lucy 4 years ago

    HEY thanks for all your lovely comments guys! :) I am so glad you enjoyed this story…! I am now seriously coveting a new Jardan couch…! Aghhh blog research can be dangerous :)

  • Mainichi 4 years ago

    Lucy, I LOVE my sofa – it’s from Jardan!! They are awesome, and so great to have local furniture makers who want to keep things that way…..Mainichi is also very pleased to recycle some of the leather offcuts from Jardan’s sofa production!!

  • Seemakarecha 4 years ago

    Amazing post, to the extent that by the end of the post, I could smell the wood.

  • Jess 4 years ago

    Like everyone else it seems, I am in the market for a new couch! It was great to read the story behind Jardan – I love supporting home grown businesses, so hopefully we can save our pennies and eventually buy something. I love the Nook lounge too – it’s also my dream couch! Thank you for the behind the scenes tour :)

  • saer aka cravenmaven 4 years ago

    Lucy this was SUCH a great post. I’ve read it over and over again. The pics of all the wonderful staff are a gem. You can tell they really love being there and Jardan sounds like a great great company. I am in love with their sofas…I wonder if they sell in the States!!

  • iwantthis 4 years ago

    Any info how we in the USA can purchase? Who can I contact? I am in LOVE with the NOOK and would love any help in getting one in my home! PLease help :)

  • Mavellous 4 years ago

    So lovely to see the faces (and hands!) that maketh the furniture! Certainly differentiates Jardan from the mass produced stuff we see too much of these days.
    T’was a delight to read.

  • Lucy what a great, well-researched, fun post and couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re ‘in the market’ and Jardan is my #1 pick. This post just confirms it! And how cute are all those Jardan peeps. What a fabulous company.

  • Katelyn Newsome 4 years ago

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