Woodwrights: handcrafted New Zealand-made furniture

Established some 21 years ago, Woodwrights Furniture focuses on crafting unique and elegant furniture of heirloom quality. From an early age, founder and director Adrian Trewavas had an exceptional eye for detail and recognition of craftsmanship, which would serve him well from Woodwrights’ modest beginnings in his back shed.

Regency bedroom collection: practical and stylish with exquisite detailing, panelling and finishes. Photo: © Woodwrights Regency bedroom collection: practical and stylish with exquisite detailing, panelling and finishes.

The company’s head office, design and manufacturing facilities are centrally located in Motueka at the top of the South Island. They are complemented by a furniture showroom in Auckland, which opened in November 2017.

Woodwrights’ Auckland showroom: open by appointment for an exclusive consultation. Photo: © Woodwrights

Woodwrights’ Auckland showroom: open by appointment for an exclusive consultation.

Following rapid growth and success, Woodwrights now has a team of 28 highly skilled employees who are motivated by the desire to create beautiful handcrafted furniture – moving beyond the mass produced and uninspired.

Skilled employees

Trewavas says the company’s designers specialise in technical CAD design, furniture design and manufacturing strategy. “The combination of these skills ensures each piece of Woodwrights furniture is both aesthetically elegant and structurally sound.”

He adds that the company employs 19 craftsmen – each with a unique set of skills. “Our senior CAD technician skilfully draws the bespoke furniture items, sending them to the customer for confirmation – including a CAD render which provides a visual insight of how their furniture will come to life. The drawings are then sent to the CAD Programmer who develops the programme for the CNC machine and associated cutting list.

Woodwrights employs 19 craftsmen – each with a unique set of skills. Photos: © Woodwrights Woodwrights employs 19 craftsmen – each with a unique set of skills.

“Once the furniture enters the production process, our furniture docker carefully selects the timber to be used for the furniture and prepares it for lamination. The furniture componentry is then machined on our 5-axis CNC machining centre or our new Homag flatbed CNC machine.

“Several of our skilled craftsmen then expertly sand and assemble the components, paying close attention to detail to ensure we produce furniture of the highest quality. Once the furniture has been constructed, our expert polisher begins the six-stage polishing process.”

Left: Woodwrights’ 5-axis CNC machining centre. Right: Each piece goes through a six-stage polishing process. Photos: © Woodwrights

Left: Woodwrights’ 5-axis CNC machining centre. Right: Each piece goes through a six-stage polishing process.

Consummate design collections

Trewavas says Woodwrights likes to design furniture that speaks a universal language – “a language which brings people together from different cultures, who are inspired by the beauty and form of a beautiful piece of furniture. That is why we have such a wide variety of styles available to suit everyone’s design vision, whether it be traditional or contemporary. Furniture design is an integral part of the company’s daily life and we strive to remain innovative and relevant … in line with the latest global design trends.”

He adds that each furniture collection is based on a personal design story – using our surroundings and the wider world, from architecture to nature, to create distinctive and inspiring designs.

Scandinavian design is a key source of inspiration for Woodwrights – simple silhouettes, clean lines, neutral tones and an emphasis on natural materials. “This is particularly evident in our Dom, Brooklyn and Apt furniture collections. They combine the best of minimalist design, functionality and quality while remaining super stylish. The natural finish and style allow the beauty of the timber in its natural state to shine through.”

Woodwrights also draws on many other styles as part of an evolving creative process. In the Dawson and Regency furniture collections, the traditional charm of Regal American design is an important influence. The collections are practical and stylish with their exquisite detailing, panelling and finishes. They exude a timeless and charming feel guaranteed to enhance any space.

The company uses sustainably managed and harvested timber from accredited sources in the United States and New Zealand – hardwoods that include American ash and white oak, heart rimu and Southland beech. Selection criteria include appearance, value for money, durability, machining, turning and finishing qualities.

Left: Oska dining table – comes in ash or oak, in a variety of finishes. Right: Functional and stylish, the Apt three-door sideboard is inspired by Scandinavia design. Photos: © Woodwrights Left: Oska dining table – comes in ash or oak, in a variety of finishes. Right: Functional and stylish, the Apt three-door sideboard is inspired by Scandinavian design.

Customisation

Trewavas says customisation is extremely important to Woodwrights’ clients and is thus an integral part of marketing communication and new product development.

“Being able to customise to accommodate an interior designer’s briefs and an end client’s requirements means we can accurately meet their needs. There is nothing better than hearing from our clients about the satisfaction their friends and family are getting from their new Woodwrights furniture piece, whether it be a dining table or an elegant sideboard in their welcoming area.”

Online presence

The company places a strong emphasis on e-commerce with an online presence. Ten years ago, Trewavas says Woodwrights witnessed a downturn in furniture retailing and reduced margins due to supplier rebates and a competitive market.

“By selling online we can customise our products to meet our clients’ exact requirements. This, in part, is made possible due to our low stock holdings. We have the space to manufacture to a specific brief with a selection of timbers, finishes and hardwares.

“Selling online and having a full customer service team based in New Zealand enables our clients to speak directly with our sales managers and designers. Therefore, the service level they receive is a very positive one. With an online business we can be nimble and respond to trends. We are also able to support interior designers and architects by meeting their exact brief so the furniture they choose perfectly complements the interiors they are designing.

The Brooklyn bedroom collection offers a simple, well-proportioned modern look. The Brooklyn bedroom collection offers a simple, well-proportioned modern look. All photos © Woodwrights

CAD visualisations

“Our responsive online CAD visualisations provide viewers with visuals of how their unique pieces will look when they select the timber, finish and handles of their choice. As they select each variant, it changes the image to reflect their selection.”

Trewavas says it’s not always straightforward selling products ‘sight unseen’. “However, we provide a lot of information and samples to help our customers in the decision-making process. Upon request, we provide timber samples in a wide range of finishes to ensure clients find the perfect colour match for existing colourways and interiors.

“For customers who are ordering bespoke furniture pieces, once we have the concept sorted, our skilled senior CAD technician will create a line drawing and a render, to give the customer an idea of how their vision will come to life. As the furniture goes through the production stage, we provide progress photos and updates, so the customer is part of the journey of their furniture.

“And one of the biggest benefits of investing in our handcrafted furniture is receiving our lifetime guarantee. This reinforces our faith in the quality of our craftsmen and the furniture we create. And it offers a customer peace of mind. In the unlikely event that there is an issue, we resolve it free of charge.”

Auckland showroom

Although Woodwrights gives priority to an e-commerce business model, Trewavas says “nothing can replace the feeling of security, satisfaction and confidence instilled in people by being able to see and touch the quality pieces we craft. That was the main inspiration behind the creation of our Auckland furniture showroom.

“We want to showcase a select range of our furniture and to give clients the opportunity to interact with our designs … thus allowing them to see and learn first-hand about the customisable options available, such as timber, sizes and handles.”

Located in East Tamaki, the furniture showroom is open by appointment every Wednesday or at other times by request. “Our highly skilled team members dedicate a 45-minute exclusive consultation for every client, without interruption, which allows us to learn about our potential client’s requirements and thus better meet their needs. Everyone who makes an appointment to visit has our undivided attention. We are there to answer any questions and help them find the perfect furniture pieces for their space.”

He adds that the word ‘showroom’ is often associated with a large space cluttered with many products. “At our Auckland showroom, we deliver a smaller, bespoke, curated collection of furniture that ranges from very modern and contemporary designs to the more traditional.

“Having the showroom located in Auckland is the most convenient option given it is the largest market. That is not to say we won’t be looking further afield in the future. Watch this space.”

Valuing New Zealand made

Trewavas is optimistic about the market prospects for high-quality New Zealand-made furniture. “If you stand behind what you make, produce top-quality products delivered with conscientious service where the client is at the heart of what you do, there is certainly a market for New Zealand-made furniture.

“We have found our clients value the entire purchase process and service they receive. And they see the value in the premium prices they pay for our crafted furniture. Each piece goes through rigorous quality testing, so our clients have confidence in the investment they are making. Many people in New Zealand are also conscious of supporting New Zealand businesses and they like that we offer full customisation services to meet their briefs.”

For further information go to woodwrights.co.nz

Michael Smith

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