Harnessing the Natural Beauty of Timber Flooring with Havwoods

  • When it comes to engineered timber flooring, Havwoods International are globally-renowned. We celebrate their rich family history and explore the growing Australian offering behind their premium timber brand.

    Timber has always harnessed the natural beauty of materiality. As timeless as it is long-lasting, engineered timber flooring adds a soft and warm element to interior aesthetics, offers a durable option underfoot, and is a sustainable solution, making it a popular choice for leading designers and architects.

    With close to 50 years of global experience in sourcing exceptionally engineered timber flooring, Havwoods foster a passion for ensuring that their product exceeds the criteria of quality and that it is both fit for purpose and fit for differing design budgets. As a well-known supplier of residential, commercial, retail, and hospitality projects, Havwoods is synonymous with variety and showcases Australia’s most extensive collection of sizes, patterns, colours, and finishes.

    In a conversation with Havwoods’ 3rd generation family member, Australian sales director Jonathan Whiley, we learn more about what sets them apart, their rich family-owned heritage, and how they plan to expand on their diversity of flooring collections in Australia. 

    Produced in partnership with Havwoods International

    Norfolk House project by SE DÉA | Photography by Sean Fennessey

    The kitchen ceiling at Norfolk House is lined with Havwoods engineered European Oak in Oak Ryde from their professional collection.

    What was the catalyst for expanding into the Australian market as a British timber flooring brand?

    Jonathan Whiley: My Grandfather started Havwoods from his home in the United Kingdom in 1975. The high quality and unique products being produced were really appreciated by the local design professionals, and so the business grew substantially. Working closely with a similar Australian-operated business, Select Timbers in Rutherford, NSW, the two businesses saw an opportunity to share their unique offering on a more global scale, and in 2010 they merged.

    We now offer over 200 products here in Australia ranging from locally inspired Spotted Gum and Blackbutt options to European Oak products produced in countries such as Holland. Despite the global offering, we are very much a family-orientated business with the original founding families from both businesses still working in the company today. We now have had four generations of the family having worked in the business and the strong family values are visible both through our staff and how we treat our incredible clients.

    How has this 50-year legacy shaped the diversity of collections you offer today?

    Jonathan Whiley: In its earlier days, Havwoods offered solid timber boards; however, over the years, we saw the need to review how we could offer a more sustainable and environmentally friendly product. This led us to offer engineered timber floorboards that still retain the beauty, functionality, and life expectancy of solid timber but use less waste and fewer trees used overall. Havwoods were one of the first companies in Australia to offer engineered timber.

    We also learned how solid timber boards can react to the variable humidity and temperatures of the local Australian climate and that our clients often didn’t have the space or time to cure solid boards on site to reduce the impact of this. This contributed to why we now focus solely on engineered timber flooring and have used this experience to diversify our offering into other internal timber surface solutions such as veneers and paneling.

    Norfolk House project by SE DÉA features an engineered timber floor from Havwoods in Amendo Herringbone from their venture planks collection.

    As an expert in engineered timber, what does it mean to be a leader in timber flooring?

    Jonathan Whiley: From how our showrooms are presented, to the service we offer our clients, to our high-quality products; our clients and our own team hold ourselves to a very high standard and are all testament to our benchmark standards which have positioned us over the years to become the pioneer that we are today.

    We also take a leadership role in product knowledge whereby our team have exceptional knowledge of engineered boards generally and of course our own products and we feel it’s important that our clients can rely on us for this to ensure they get the best results for their individual projects.

    We really pride ourselves on having options for any projects and having the largest range of engineered timber products in Australia ensures we can deliver on this. It means we consistently challenge ourselves to ensure we offer the latest finishes, colours, and products to the market.

    Why do you believe your collections of timber flooring appeal to our leading Australian design community?

    Jonathan Whiley: We have over 200 products in a vast range of timber tones and various patterns including plank, wide plank, herringbone, chevron, Versailles, and other parquetry styles. The feedback we receive from the Australian design community is that they love our breadth of products and we work alongside a number of designers who know they can come to us to find the perfect product for their project.

    Quality is another appeal. We experience a lot of repeat business which can be attributed to our premium quality, easy-to-lay, consistent, and durable product range. We also ensure that our products are sourced from sustainably managed forests and have the most extensive range of third-party sustainably certified engineered timber. Our clients take confidence in the fact that we are environmentally focused and are continuously working to improve this as a business.

    What are some of Havwoods’ most iconic timber ranges to date?

    Jonathan Whiley: Venture Plank is one of Havwoods’ most iconic timber ranges and is one of our principal ranges. Its enduring product quality, large spectrum of interesting shades, and smooth surface texture have made it a popular choice for projects by designers and architects across Australia.

    Another popular collection is our PurePanel which is our first range specifically designed for decorative and joinery purposes. It is a real timber veneer panel that is the perfect application for internal walls and ceiling cladding, wardrobes, cabinetry, and other surfaces.

    What key commitments does Havwoods have in place to ensure its timber collections are sustainably and environmentally safe?

    Jonathan Whiley: Sourcing sustainable and environmentally considered timber is important to us. We have a global compliance team that implements strict policies and auditing processes to ensure all our timber products are sourced from sustainably managed forests and meet each country’s logging legislation. We also work with third-party suppliers such as Cradle to Cradle and FSC, who provide trusted sustainability certification for over 120 products in our range.

    Havwoods Ryde engineered Oak timber floor planks in a herringbone pattern throughout Designer Alex Morrison’s own apartment create a soft foundation, allowing the harbour views to take centre stage.

    What recent style shifts or movements have Havwoods observed within the architecture and design community regarding timber flooring? 

    Jonathan Whiley: We’ve noticed a profound movement in the design and architecture space towards specifying products that are both sustainably conscious and well-being-focused. Over the years, we have also seen a change in consumer preference toward the desire to include more natural materials in their homes. This biophilic design approach aims to improve our connectivity to a natural environment, and timber flooring or paneling is a great way to achieve this.

    Alongside this, we have also seen a rise of coastal and pared-back Scandinavian interior aesthetics build over the years and have a large range of product tones that complement this design. More recently, we’ve noted the return of mid-century modern design and, with this, a call for warmer, richer tones within the home. Our soon-to-be-released additional Walnut products were designed in response to this movement’s look and feel.

    Alex Morrison’s Sydney Apartment | Photography by Dave Wheeler

    Havwoods Ryde engineered Oak timber floor planks in a herringbone pattern throughout Designer Alex Morrison’s own apartment create a soft foundation, allowing the harbour views to take centre stage.

    What do Australian architects and designers have to look forward to from Havwoods in 2023?

    Jonathan Whiley: They know we will always deliver on our personalised and knowledgeable service. We also recently extended our service offering to our Queensland clients via our new showroom which opened in Brisbane in February.

    We have also been working to make it easier for our clients to find the perfect timber tone by introducing ten timber colour categories, from vanilla to cocoa, smoky grey, and monochrome. Clients can use these categories available via our website, quarterly Wood Book, and in our showrooms to locate a range of options to work with any colour scheme and design.

    We’ll also be continuing with our innovation program, evolving and expanding our product offering with more than twenty new products planned for release in our next Wood Book. And finally, we are excited to expand our decorative interior timber solutions. with the expansion of our PurePanel timber veneers which have been hugely popular with our clients.

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