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Eco Furniture Design Store in Cape Town
First-class designer furniture at second-hand rates
And: Don’t forget to ask about specials for CapeTownMagazine.com readers!
Two things tend to be true in the business world: the best ideas are the most obvious and the best prices are always the lowest. Simple, right? Perhaps not, or more of us would be successful. Though, one enterprise has managed to see the wood for the trees and put these truisms into practice to change the way people buy furniture in Cape Town.
Eco Furniture Design, an online wood furniture store devoted to sustainability, uses reclaimed wood and timber grown and harvested with minimal environmental impact to craft beautiful pieces sold at affordable prices. The shop is among the first wave of Cape Town-based manufacturers giving people the opportunity to be both responsible consumers and the proud owners of striking indoor and outdoor home and office furnishings.
“When I had my second child, Laila, I needed a table to change her on,” recounts a gregarious Tameron Grahn, the co-founder of the budding business. “So, my husband [and partner], Peter, banged together a quick fix with some old wood and a couple of nails.”
Voila! From that point in 2009 onwards, Tameron’s seedling of necessity grew into a thriving trade. Peter’s solution – he says there’s wood EVERYWHERE – is not only the kind of no-brainer that leaves even the best and brightest of us wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that,” but also a concept that’s hot on trend.
Since the beginning of 2013, the green furniture rage has gripped everyone from magazine publishers to prominent industry players. As a renewable resource that requires a minimal level of energy-based processing, wood is one of the most eco-friendly building materials on the planet, and thus wealthy homeowners everywhere from New York City to Moscow have stopped harbouring dreams of living in a gold-drenched Versailles and are now raising houses made from natural pine. More interestingly, even décor mogul IKEA jumped on the bandwagon in late 2012: the Scandinavian game changer – it uses a total of 1% of the earth’s commercial wood – named forestry management at the core of its drive to be one of the most sustainable businesses in the world by 2020.
“A lot of people just never had the option [to purchase green furniture] before,” explains Tameron when quizzed about the sudden mass appeal. “And now, aside from the fact that you can buy something that looks flipping beautiful, you have the opportunity to purchase something that’s eco-friendly too.”
The duo’s business uses reclaimed wood, like Oregon pine that’s been discarded from home builds and meranti that’s left over from cabinetry, to piece together stunning bedside tables, bookcases and dining room tables. And the team uses invasive alien species, like blackwood and blue gum, as well as pine sourced from sustainable South African forests, to conjure up contemporary shelves, television units, outdoor tables, desks and more.
In both cases, they keep their suppliers as local as possible, both to support proximal enterprises and to reduce their carbon footprint. Not to mention, though more of a fair trade than environmental achievement, they employ workers with little previous experience and upskill and train them.
“It’s like a journey,” Peter, who heads up the production wing of Eco Furniture Design, points out. “Each piece is made by hand. We source the wood, check it for insect infestation, remove impurities like nails, recondition it, sand it, cut it, fill it, assemble it and stain it.”
In short, the process is a true labour of love, and it’s one that the enterprise encourages their clients to be as involved in as possible. While the team has mocked up and tried and tested a number of standard designs – everything from simple flower boxes and benches to more complicated tapered leg tables and pantry cupboards – the furniture store produces customised pieces too.
Thus, those who’ve spent sleepless nights mulling over the look and feel of a four-poster bed can now realise their dream at a minimal cost. In a nutshell, why do it yourself when someone else can do it for you. Eco Furniture Design lets clients take the reins from start to finish: they can pick their design, their wood, their colour and their stain, but Peter and his trusty team do all the hard work.
“You really are getting exactly what you want,” enthuses Tameron.
Not to mention, because each plank of reclaimed wood comes with its own personal history, colouring, knots and character, every finished piece of furniture is unique. This paired with the fact that you’re not aiding in the destruction of rainforests or unknowingly advocating environmentally taxing imports makes the one-of-a-kind Eco Design Furniture creations an incredible bargain.
Having started out with only a single hammer and a drill themselves, Peter and Tameron know the value of a rand and have thus made it their mission to give nearly everyone access to exquisite décor at a reasonable price. As Tameron puts it, they want even those who think, “one day when I’m big, I’ll have a beautiful dining room table,” to have the chance to own the kind of piece that can turn a house into a home right now.
Unsurprisingly, the response to the endeavour has been overwhelming. Even in a South Africa where online ordering is still anathema, countless people have used Eco Furniture Design’s Web-based store to virtually furnish their living spaces (it’s also possible to go to the workshop and the small Woodstock-based shopfront if you’re still cynical about Internet shopping).
It’s a purchasing process as simple as the Eco Furniture Design concept itself, and in this case, it just goes to show, going green doesn’t always have to splinter the bank balance.
And now the've got a nice video that is too serene for words:
Tip: Eco Furniture Design delivers directly to your door as part of their service; though, as mentioned, if you want to check up on your piece’s progress, you’re welcome to head down to the workshop (it’s necessary to make an appointment beforehand).
The Bill: First-class furniture at second-hand rates. More concretely: dining room tables start at R1390, bed bases go for as little as R1250 and a CD/DVD rack is a mere R350. Don’t forget to ask about specials for CapeTownMagazine.com readers!
By Stephanie Katz
Interested in learning about other affordable design trends in Cape Town? Read about the art of upcycling.
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