Francis Furniture has been in the business of creating beautiful specialty timber pieces locally for over 27 years. Kim Francis shares their unique style..
> Hi Kim. You and your brother Chris have been making furniture in the Hastings for more than 27 years now. How did you become involved in furniture making, and where do you get your inspiration from?
I was working in Sydney making doors and not really being challenged much in a skills way, and Chris was working for Mariner cruisers in Mona Vale fitting out 42 footers when the opportunity came up to move to Port. Our sister Kerrie was living here at the time, and it was at her urging that we began to put together a plan to move north for a change of pace and to start up our own furniture making business.
Chris is a boat builder by trade, and during his early years in the trade he was making surf boats and rowing sculls in Manly Vale. This being mostly club type work meant that the summer months were frantic but the winter time was sometimes a little slow, so they would often take on some furniture jobs to tide them over.
Some of these jobs included a nice custom display unit that went into a unit in Victoria House that was full of Chinese antique furniture and the complete replacement of the tops of a huge set of banquet tables for Kirribilly House. So the passion comes from the love of beautiful timbers and of working it to make the most of its beauty. There’s also the making of something unique and long lasting and a little bit challenging, tailored to suit the customers’ desires.
And you know, we’re also quite passionate and motivated about owning and running our own business. As we’re a partnership, there is always some interesting creative tension happening to keep us both on our best behaviour and moderating any excesses or regrettable decisions. In the end, knowing that there are a lot of very satisfied customers behind us (with heaps of our furniture) gives us a great deal of satisfaction as well.
> Specialty furniture is often considered to be the finishing touch to a home. What makes the pieces made by Francis Furniture so unique?
Well to start, all our furniture is made from solid timber. That is a bit of a rarity these days, simply because of the extra labour involved and also the precautions that must be thought about right from the design stage through to the end use applications and siting or positioning of the piece within the home.
When a customer comes to us, they usually have a fair idea of what they want and know that the best way to achieve a successful outcome is to come to the specialist, who will get it right the first time everytime.
At Francis Furniture we use some of the finest timbers available, many of them Australian hardwoods such as Blackwood, Blue Gum or Rose Gum to make furniture of a very high standard of attention to detail, design and build quality. Using features such as our unique sliding tapered dovetail, which allows the timber its natural seasonal movement on all our carcase work and tenoned and dowelled frames giving extra stiffness.
Combine this with an uncompromising approach to ensuring we use only the most appropriate fittings and hardware available for a long service life, and you begin to realise why many of our customers, when they return to buy their next piece, are still happy even after decades of owning their first piece.
> We hear you just completed fitting out a boat – a huge project, which has taken you about two years to complete. Tell us about this venture.
The boat you mention is the Silver Cloud managed by Sea King Marine down at the Marina. They asked us to essentially handle most of the interior fit out, as it needed to be done to a very high standard. Sea King have done a number of very high quality boat restorations, and we were very happy to be involved with them once again on this project.
Yes, you’re right – it was a huge job. But in the end it turned out stunningly, after a lot of very tricky designing to fit tight spaces. Also, incorporating the owner’s very unique demands regarding what he wanted fitted into the boat. This was often cutting edge high tech gadgetry that had to be totally hidden so as to not detract from the boat’s historic Halvorsen roots.
> Your portfolio of works boasts a fantastic ‘standard’ line of furniture, but you also take pride in custom designs to suit your clients’ individual needs. How would a person go about organising custom made furniture for their home, and what is involved when designing and creating customised pieces?
The majority of our work is based around our existing designs, with customers specifying what maximum or minimum sizes they can accommodate in their space. They then may need to choose matching or appropriate handles, timbers and sometimes mouldings to suit what else may be in the same room as their new piece. Occasionally we may need to match closely the style of some existing piece so that it won’t look out of place.
In that case we usually need to personally visit to see the colours and the mouldings and the style we need to match up to; we’ll usually take a few photos then do up a drawing and work up a price. Once the client is happy with the design and costing, then we can lock it into our schedule, finishing most pieces within 6 to 12 weeks.
> Thank you Kim.