Locally Made to Last a Lifetime – Oku Space
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
When stores were closing in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a duo of Melbourne designers and makers did the unexpected – they started a business. Since then, Oku Space has emerged as a studio that is championing locally designed and manufactured furniture intended to last a lifetime.
The experience of founders Nick Rennie and Dustin Fritsche in industrial design, carpentry and cabinet making informed the brand from the outset. Proudly making furniture locally in Melbourne, Oku Space is driven by a goal to create products that people will love and use for generations to come. With a strong focus on quality, every piece is built to last while being designed and manufactured with sustainability in mind.
Oku Space’s inaugural collection includes 11 pieces and consists of a diverse mix of storage, seating, dining, and office furniture.
Each stage of a product’s journey before it reaches the end user has been considered, from the raw materials to the manufacturing and transportation. A rarity today when it comes to furniture, Oku Space works with solid timber, enabling the team to leverage their woodworking experience and manufacture every element in their Melbourne workshop. To maintain a small environmental footprint, the manufacturing process combines traditional joinery techniques with modern tools and methods for maximum efficiency in the use of materials. The emphasis on quality and durability, meanwhile, means that once a product has found its new home, whether in a commercial or residential setting, it will last a lifetime – further reducing the environmental impact associated with the predominant culture of disposability.
Oku Space’s inaugural collection includes 11 pieces and consists of a diverse mix of storage, seating, dining, and office furniture. Traces of the studio’s conscious approach towards designing and making are found in the details – the Rakii coast stand, for example, is made of three pieces of elegantly curved timber, showcasing the simplicity in the design and the honesty of the materials. It is also evident in the thought that has been put into the OS1, an elegant dining chair that stacks four high, comes in a variety of solid woods and is available with or without an upholstered seat. Though stackability is often not front of mind when purchasing a luxury chair, it is an important factor when it comes to the energy involved in transporting the product. Deliberately designing the chairs to be stackable reduces the overall carbon footprint of delivery, demonstrating Oku Space’s ethos of prioritising sustainability
Completing the collection, a series of tables – from dining tables to side, coffee and bedside tables – a cabinet, a stool and a storage unit all demonstrate Oku Space’s commitment to design precision and skilled craftsmanship. The tables in the collection balance curved and rectilinear forms to ensure they will be suitable for a variety of spaces. The Elisse dining table is available in both a rectangular and a round design, while the smaller Hikoi dining table, and the Soba and Sunni side tables offer playful interpretations on rounded shapes.
The Kakudo bedside table is a functional piece designed to fit neatly beside a bed. In contrast, the generous size and elegant simplicity of the Lepel coffee table ensures it sits luxuriously within a living space. The Perch stool aligns stylistically with the Hikoi table and the Kakudo entertainment unit is a scaled up, elevated version of the petite side table with which it shares its name. Perhaps most individual of the all the pieces in the collection, the Kooii cabinet balances the strong vertical rhythm of timber slats with a soft elliptical form, creating a statement piece that acts as part screen, part display.
In just over a year since Oku Space was founded, a strong commitment to considered design and local manufacturing has seen the brand’s first collection already making its mark. From out of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oku Space has arisen as a success story carved in timber.