This is the story of how one of my many scribbled designs, instead of being thrown away or only dreamed about, became a sleek, outdoor bench. My day job as a graphic designer at Empire Creative Group has changed over the years and now I spend more of my time in the studio organising others and less time being creative. So, like many of us, my pent-up creativity just keeps building.
As a right brain person I can’t stop myself from continuously scribbling down ideas and on a flight to Byron Bay to visit friends the original drawings for my new outdoor bench design took shape. I love organic shapes and the thought of a piece of furniture that was multi functional appealed to me.
My first thought was for apartment living as there are so many new ones popping up. This bench can bring a touch of greenery to a balcony, as it has both a seat and room for a pot plant (or an ice bucket for party days) making it suitable for so many locations.
But, as it developed, I realised that any deck area, garden setting or even around a pool were also ideal locations. The thought that someone could have their favourite plant or herbs at close reach resonated with me. As far as I was aware there was nothing quite like it and the only similar pieces are coming out of Europe and cost a fortune – and these were just straight benches that don’t have the unique features of my design.
It could have just been another one of those many scribbled ideas but on this occasion I decided to make it happen.
The design process
After the initial scribbles I grabbed some modelling clay and started to make miniatures to see what felt right. After a bit of mess in our lounge room and a lot of understanding by my wife, these models established the preferred option out of all the designs and from here I was able to make my scale drawings.
Armed with my model and drawings I found a 3D renderer who could create files that manufacturers were able to quote from.
Getting it to manufacturing stage
My intention was to manufacture in Australia but after getting several quotes for the creation of the mould I realised that either I pack it in and forget about it, as it was far too expensive for me to afford, or alternatively I look to Asia to manufacture.
I started searching the internet for manufacturers who produced rotation mould products overseas and managed to narrow it down to three.
One of the manufacturers was exhibiting at a trade show so with the decision made to go, I headed of to Guangzhou in China. The trip was probably not exactly fruitful but it did give me the information I required to be able to ask more questions.
Being on a shoe string budget the final decision on manufacturer was based on price and one of the items they had made before – a kayak! The drawings were sent and the moulds made.
Two samples were sent from China with the intention of having one of them appear in my wife Ros McCully’s show garden at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, 2014.
When the samples arrived I was filled with fear about how the products would look and feel. Would they work, would they be comfortable……so many questions.
To say I was pleased was an understatement, as the benches were smooth and soft to touch. Their shapes worked well and the response from all who have seen them has been great.
The next steps were setting up a website so that people can purchase them online and finding ways to get the word out about them.
For me this has been a great journey over the past 6 –8 months. I look at the benches and feel pride in what I have done, I love the look of them (even though I have seen them so many times).
I had no knowledge about producing anything like this before. Every step was something new and it will probably be a slow learning curve as I enter into the realm of being a producer and a retailer.
Yet so often I hear of people having ideas and not acting on them and while I’m sitting on one of the benches, relaxing in our garden, I can be happy in knowing that I made them. I might just have to look at some of my other scribbles with a new perspective….