As one of Australia’s most respected and long-running businesses, it was amazing we left Abey slip under our fingers for so long. While we had seen some of the standout Gessi pieces throughout the years, it was their blockbuster Gareth Ashton range that caught our attention – this is a business, we thought to ourselves, that is clearly as passionate about sharing innovative design from around the world as we are.
On a visit to their sleek Albert Park showroom, we sat down with one of the key brains in the business, Ashley Anderson, to learn more about the vision behind the brand and what working with a brand like Gessi has inspired in Abey’s own approach.
In partnership with Abey Australia
From the beginning, function has always been top of mind. Long before they were known for distributing leading global brands like Gessi, Barazza and Shock, Abey manufactured masonry and infrastructure products crucial to the foundations of people’s home. “We’ve been an engineering based company and we still are” says Anderson.
Having operated behind the scenes for decades, the company’s drive for function and problem-solving led to their inroads in product manufacturing and retail. Thirty years ago in Australia there was no sink without a drain tray – despite global markets showing their desire for a minimal, detachable design. Back then, says Anderson, it was all incredibly niche, products might be bought by an architect or designer but getting through to the retail stores was a different matter. As a solution, Abey decided to distribute the trays themselves. “Architects could see the value in having really big bowls, and detachable drain trays for saving space in the kitchen, and the interest grew from there.” After adding other products to their small but well-received offering, things changed when legendary Italian design studio Gessi came calling.
Reflects Anderson “It really came from a need. We saw the opportunity in the market, but also a need for these products the weren’t previously being distributed here. We didn’t just want to duplicate, we knew there was a market for what we were looking at and we thought people wanted something better, something different too.”
Gessi has become a foundation brand for Abey, who are inspired by their innovative manufacturing approach and craftsmanship. “We embrace everything that the Italians bring in – we take the lot and see where it goes” says Anderson.
Gessi’s lengthy creative collaboration with designer and sculptor Prospero Resulo has left a particular impression on the way Abey look to collaborate with and distribute their brands. “Gessi are a clever company in that they know how to manufacture, but also that beautiful design requires bringing in a designer. So Mr. Gessi’s clever enough to take Prospero Resulo onboard, who is a clever entrepreneur and will look at a shape or a sunset and be able to distill that inspiration to a product – it’s an innovative partnership.”
Having predicted much of the current consumer trends in kitchen and bathroom design we had to ask where Abey see the global market evolving. While we sometimes feel the rotating door of trends can compromise the decision making of interior design and product selection, Anderson is optimistic when considering the future;
“There’s so much more choice now, the internet has really made that happen. Buying behaviour has changed too – in the past there might have been one or two boutique stores to buy luxury and high-end bathroom pieces from, but now there’s so much variety even a local plumbing store can offer a degree of variety. People have lifted their game because the consumer is a lot smarter than than were.”