With a showroom in Melbourne and considerable growth in recent years, family business Fanuli Furniture have recently opened a brand new showroom in Sydney. To find out more about this project, we interviewed designer Bradhly Le to discuss the brief, design process and product selections which went into this incredible project.
Photo by Nicole England
Q. What is your design approach and the philosophy behind your work?
A. Every project starts with a unique approach which is tailored to suit the Client’s brief, desires, and the parameters of the site. The guiding philosophy behind the design for Fanuli Contract was that spaces needed to be dynamic and cater to diverse needs from the commercial requirements of the workspace, balanced with the servicing activities of a retail environment.
This provided us with a unique opportunity to design a space that puts work on display without compromising on the need for confidentiality and focus which is often critical to employee productivity and performance. The duality of spaces were key considerations to the design with the curation of furniture providing a multi-functional approach from a collaborative dining setting to a narrated gallery space - And this approach enabled every space and furniture setting to be utilised by employees for work.
Q. You’ve previously designed the Fanuli South Yarra showroom - what connects you to the Fanuli brand?
A. Fanuli partnered with Bradhly Le to design this new space where a deep connection to brand and ethos needed to be seamlessly woven into the design and it was important that the synergies between Sydney and Melbourne were there. Although the two spaces look quite different, there are design elements within Sydney that are subtle nods to Melbourne such as the blackened steel detailing and ambient lighting approach.
The characteristic of the Fanuli brand that resonated most, was the meticulous design detail and process which you will see in every object they sell. The new space needed to echo the same level of quality to ensure that all the elements we created had purpose, longevity, and impact, from the lighting, furniture to the architectural elements.
Q. What was the initial brief for the Fanuli Cremorne showroom extension?
A. Fanuli’s vision was simple - extend the existing showroom and create a new experience that is uniquely different from the current space whilst embodying the spirit of the Fanuli brand. Within the new space, a careful balance needed to be struck between the day to day needs of a retail environment with the commercial activities of the workplace.
A dedicated office space was a critical element to the project to enable employees to work undisrupted, collaboratively, and productively without disrupting the running operation of the showroom.
And with all Fanuli projects, longevity was a must and the physical space needed to be robust, timeless, and adaptable to meet the demands of a fluid retail environment.
Q. What does your design process look like and how did it evolve while designing this space?
A. The design process usually starts with a simple conversation with the client on site as I find this is the best way to draw out the brief and bring the project to life.
Design is a cumulative enterprise and starting the concept with pen and trace is a great way to test and experiment. Every hand drawing for Fanuli was meticulously drawn and detailed to convey the design intent and enabling the builders to progress with the construction on site.
Meticulously detailed with a focus on light, spaces are conceived via a rhythm of apertures, where workspace and products are curiously revealed.
Q. Did you face any challenges along the way?
A. The biggest challenge on the project was the fire separation between the existing and new space as there was a requirement to install a significantly large fire rated door. We saw this as an opportunity to create a steel portal frame to encapsulate the door and create a strong visual threshold between the new existing showroom and new space.
Q. What were your sources of inspiration for Fanuli Cremorne?
A. Attention to detail was an important source of inspiration to the project and the design needed to reflect the quality of the brands that Fanuli represented. Each design element draws on elegance, a sense of refinement and a hand-crafted quality reflected in the innovative yet restrained level of finishing and details.
Q. How did you decide on the materials and finishes selected? Can you give us a rundown of your selections and the thought process behind it?
A. Conceived as a gallery-like space, Fanuli Contract needed to be inspiring to guests as well as employees, with a materials approach that is restrained and highly tactile. Masonry finishes sets the tone of the space with blackened steel features that define active thresholds, balanced with walnut timber to add elegance and warmth.
A dramatic steel portal marks the entry into the new wing and proactively invites curiosity by Fanuli guests, by providing visual glimpses into the new space.
Q. What was the driving force behind choosing Omni by Tom Fereday for the showroom?
A. We wanted to create for Fanuli was a space that was visually strong, contemporary, and dramatic and to achieve this, we needed a material that was robust, layered, and complex.
The key gravitas of the design is the OMNI block wall that unifies all the areas and provides visual privacy to the work enabled spaces, a dramatic backdrop for furniture display and creates an interplay of space and light conceived via a rhythm of apertures, distilling moments of living and work.
Q. What led you to use Omni by Tom Fereday in this project?
A. We needed a material that was interesting, flexible, and transparent to enable the lighting to be tuned to suit a variety of client experiences.
The illumination strategy was a pivotal element of the design with diffused lighting to enhance warmth, and accent lighting strategically placed to provide focus and drama. Lighting filtered through the apertures of the OMNI blocks can be adjusted to suit the requirements of the day.
This considered lighting approach conceives a retail and workspace that not only inspires employees, but for guests who visit.
Q. What’s your overall impression of the Omni blocks now that they’re part of the finished design of the Fanuli showroom?
A. Dramatic, visually stimulating, and timeless.