A suite of bespoke furniture uses a multifaceted regional heritage as its design centre, giving Kew’s public spaces a connection to its past with the form and function of the present.
In a bid to improve public spaces in Kew, Victoria, the City of Boroondara implemented an initiative that proposed key improvements to enhance the appearance of the area and add character, while also creating a safe, functional and pedestrian-friendly environment for its citizens and visitors.
The city’s key programs included a consistent suite of furniture along High Street, additional soft streetscaping, and the creation of feature spaces for people to stop, rest and gather.
To achieve a number of their objectives, the City of Boroondara commissioned Draffin Street Furniture to produce a range of bespoke pieces that would reflect the heritage of the city. In consultation with the community, Council developed concept designs for furniture items that represented important historical aspects, with community feedback related to the streetscape improvements used to guide and inform the design. Draffin then worked closely with council designers to further develop the concepts into working models, produce prototypes, and manufacture the finished designs.
Existing within the clan territory of the Wurundjeri-Willam tribe of the Wurundjeri people, Kew has long been a town of multicultural influences. Its beginnings as a colonial settlement in 1845 saw the town grow in enterprise and diversity as it flourished.
The use of a ‘chopped wood’ or ‘stacked timber’ cut out was implemented into the design of a series of stools and benches that grace High Street, as a reference to the former Dunning & Sons fuel supply business - a renowned landmark of Harp Junction. The timber motif was cut into 5mm-thick stainless steel end panels using Draffin’s inhouse laser cutting facility. Corten steel backing plates were then used to highlight the ‘stacked’ shapes and underpin the historical influences of the suite.
To ensure a 20-plus year lifespan, the seat and stool items were manufactured from a recycled composite batten and a heavy-duty galvanised frame. The benches were topped with a highly polished stainless-steel armrest that is maintenance free and pleasing to touch. The combination of aesthetics and durable materials guarantees long-term viability for the suite.
In addition to the seating options that form gathering spaces for people to stop and rest, Council also produced concepts for a number of totem poles that reflect the area’s history in the form of functional public art. The images produced for the totem poles reflect the history of the Harp of Erin Hotel, as a centre for race meetings and a staging post for Cobb & Co services to Lilydale that occurred during the Victorian gold rush era of the 1850s.
To achieve the heritage styling required, Draffin sourced ironbark wood posts. Reclaimed from a demolished bridge, the 100-plus year-old timber posts are shrouded in character and add a layer of ‘rustic’ charm to the overall setting. Draffin produced a series of decorative stainless-steel caps with laser cut images that wrap around the posts and communicate the heritage references approved by Council. Highlighted with Corten steel backing plates to enhance the design, the poles were installed at varying heights along the project area.
The completed furniture integrates beautifully into the finished development and is a testament to the vision of the council designers. Sensitive to the historical significance of the designs and the project’s objectives, Draffin produced a suite of attractive and durable pieces that will serve the town of Kew for years to come.
As specialists in custom design, Draffin CEO, Ian Draffin, believes, “the key to success in this type of project is working with our customers to understand the vision, so that we can work as a team to achieve the best end result.”
Draffin Street Furniture
Location | Kew, Victoria
Client | City of Boroondara
Product Design & Supply | Draffin Street Furniture
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