Australia is a nation renowned for its sunshine and barbecues, and why we wouldn't we be with our beautiful weather! As the weather warms up, so does everyone’s desire to spend more time outside soaking up the sun, enjoying the fresh air and firing up the barbecue!
Having a great area to entertain outside is every bit as important as having a well-designed, comfortable and functioning space within the home.
If you are considering upgrading your outdoor area furniture in time for summer, than look no further than Aliquantum, a Perth-based supplier of beautifully designed, premium quality, alfresco furnishings.
They specialise in the blending of stainless steel with top quality hardwoods to create their outstanding range of premium products. The coolness of stainless steel when combined with the warmth of quality hardwoods provides a fantastically tactile product that is extremely durable. The collection has a sleek, modern aesthetic that helps to create a seamless transition between spaces where the outdoors meets the indoors.
Designed for Aussie living, the range includes screening products, balustrades, alfresco furniture and indoor furnishings that are highly practical, offer superior comfort and (the other important factor not to be forgotten) - value. Aliquantum is a Latin term that simply means "fair price".
We had the pleasure of chatting to Russell Collier, Director of Aliquantum, to find out how he created his successful business and what we can expect from Aliquantum's premium collection.
How did you get into the business?
I came to furniture making in a circuitous way so bear with me……
I was on a project in Queensland and lived in a pretty modern home. I wanted an awning that would add to the value of the house, rather than detract from it. For the life of me, I could not find a decent looking awning anywhere.
Although I hadn’t always been a great artist, I have always been able to envision designs in my mind. Enter easy to use CAD software (which had become more cost-effective to obtain)… I was now able to design products and translate those ideas onto paper. So I set about creating some new designs…. This process ultimately led me to set up Aliquantum to take advantage of what I saw was a niche opportunity in the shade market.
The business was moved to Perth at the end of 2003 for family reasons but I realised I had only one string to my bow. This put the company in a risky place if the awning market stagnated. At about this time, the Perth real estate market had commenced a housing “infill” programme in many suburbs and initially, customers were looking to use awnings and similar structures to achieve the privacy requirements laid out by councils.
I saw privacy was now going to be big business! I developed a proprietary range of up market privacy screens, gates and infill panels, all designed to look the same from either side. Customers loved the products and I was now well on my way to working with timber, a product (and a hobby) I have loved since childhood.
As time passed, the privacy screens and panels became more elaborate and blending the timber with stainless steel became more common. There is unique feel when stainless steel and timber are used together. The effect is strangely tangible and the cold/warm contrast is something that pleases the human eye. My involvement with stainless steel fabrication had begun.
The move to furniture making came slowly but was enhanced enormously by my learning to weld stainless steel. Initially, inquiries were made in conjunction with screening jobs where the alfresco area was being upgraded but as time passed, we began to receive furniture inquiries in their own right. We now supply mining companies, select Perth retail outlets (specific product restrictions apply) as well as the general public.
However, I always prefer to deal with my customers direct; that way I can make changes to the products that suits their requirements rather than pre-determined dimensions that the industry has adhered to.
What can we expect when we come in store?
I don’t operate a store. They are very expensive to operate and since all my work is customised, I invite customers to come to my workshop where I can show them options. This helps them to visualise all of the possibilities available.
Tell us about your favourite products at the moment?
I love the relationship that exists between polished stainless steel and jarrah. I’m not so concerned what type of product I am making, but once these two materials are blended they take on a life of their own.
Jarrah can be a polarising timber and it is considered too red by many Perth customers, judicious use of polished stainless steel breaks up the redness thus preventing the timber from being considered too red or too bland.
My favourite piece of furniture is the daybed… it is wildly attractive and enormously comfortable. This I know well….. snoring has had me sleeping on the day bed many a time. I sized the base on a standard Ikea single mattress which are good quality and affordable. The bed comes in a number of variations so we can move the price around to suit customer’s budget. I think this is a good thing. Car sellers have been doing this for ages, why not my furniture.
What makes your workshop special?
My workshop is special because for every product I have made, the idea of it was implemented in that place. It is the place where I can not only show customers options and open their minds to a host of alternative ideas but also a place of contemplation and achievement.
What’s your favourite question from a customer?
Can you do this?
What’s your favourite part of the work day?
A lot of my designing takes place at night. I love the design process. I spend hours musing over ideas and how they will fit together.
Who would you love to serve in store?
I love working with people who are open to new ideas. There are so many ways of doing things, if a customer has a closed mind to options before they have come into the workshop, we guide them through the alternatives and encourage them to try something they hadn’t previously considered.
What inspires you?
Life, nature, everything.
Are you regularly updating your own home with products from the store?
All my work is custom work so new products are being developed all year round. Guess where all the prototypes live?