Designed with authenticity for comfort and longevity, Staple&Co furniture is the brain child of founder Shelley Mason after the designer recognised a gap in the market for good quality, locally made furniture. Describing Staple&Co’s furniture style as ‘ laid-back sophistication’, Mason designs pieces that welcome a robust family life while at the same time beckoning those who may prefer to curl up with a good book.
We spoke with founder of Staple&Co, Shelley Mason about her experience in setting up a boutique furniture design business and gained some insights into how she has managed to carve her very own niche in a highly competitive market.
Designer and Founder of Staple&Co Shelley Mason
Staple&Co is a furniture design company. What led you into the business of designing and manufacturing furniture?
Since I’ve been in the furniture business for 5 years now (my Surry Hills based retail store, Project82 is currently celebrating its 5th year of trading). We started our journey as a furniture boutique style of store, showcasing a combination of imported and locally made options from the small selection of established Australian manufacturers at the time.
Retail however, is a tough market. Evolving, I believe is key to any small business success. After a couple of years of trading I found it essential to establish the all-important competitive edge and decided to take the plunge into producing & marketing my own collection.
The small range of upholstered pieces, has been designed to appeal to an increasingly discerning market who are craving classic, timeless designs that are well-made and locally produced.
My maker, in Sydney’s Inner West draws on generations of experience in the time-honoured field of upholstery, and does a beautiful job with his hand-crafted manufacturing methods. I personally feel very proud to be supporting local – and the flexibility this brings to customize is a great plus too.
Who do you design for when you are developing new pieces for Staple&Co?
My aim with Staple&Co was to create a brand that is high-end, beautifully designed, but very liveable on a day-to-day basis.
The brief, for example when I approached Chris & Megan from cm studio (to create the latest collection) included words such as; approachable, timeless, usable, considered & practical. It was essential that the collection not be fussy in any way and the pieces could be easily integrated into a broad range of interior styles.
Can you describe what laid back sophistication means to you?
I would consider this a very Australian approach.
I believe our new cm studio designed Louis sofa is the perfect example of this as a concept.
The classically proportioned, refined lines of the frame are made very approachable with the relaxed and very loose covering, particularly when using the butter-soft Ranchero leather we’ve used in our photography.
The piece looks fresh, clean and modern, but also very very usable – it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is real – sophisticated, but laid back at the same time.
Can you share with us the designers that you look up to and admire?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Nordic’s (it all started with my first ‘serious’ job over 20 years ago at DEDECE). They seem to nail the all important simplicity, timelessness & functionality each and every time. HAY, & the stunning work of Norm Architects are amongst my current favourites.
What style of sofa would you say best suits your personal style?
Despite the recent huge popularity with our new Louis – the Lennon is still at the top of my list.
It ticks all of the boxes for longevity in a family home. It’s hugely comfortable, makes up really well as a large piece (with plenty of room for all the family) and can double as a spare bed when you have extra visitors for overnight stays.
What’s your all time favourite dining chair?
I’ve always loved for its simplicity, the Series 7 dining chair Designed by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into design and production here in Australia?
Finding a quality, affordable manufacturing solution is key and unfortunately, the most challenging part of producing furniture here in Australia.
Do your research, speak to others in the industry and ensure you’re working with experienced professionals who are willing to back their workmanship.
If you were not designing furniture what else would you be doing?
At the age of 16, I did my first ‘work experience’ as a graphic designer. Whilst this was something I never professionally pursued, throughout my career, the design and branding side of what I do is something which really interests & inspires me.
I love nothing more than to name, curate, photograph, write about and market a new project. This is when I’m truly thriving!
At this point I’m lucky enough to be utilizing these skills to build my own collection of brands however I’d equally enjoy this working for others.
What’s in store for Staple&Co for 2016?
The biggest news in the first half of this year, is a brand new, much larger Sydney showroom to showcase the full Staple&Co collection.
The new Project 82 showroom (in St Peters, Sydney) is currently having the final touches applied and will be ready for trading early Feb.
We’ve also taken on a new stockist in Melbourne – Vincent 2 in South Melbourne who will have Staple&Co pieces on the floor from mid-Feb this year.
We’ll be filling out the collection throughout the year with a new bed, new sofa and some smaller accessories all in the pipeline.
Staple&Co can be found at;
Project 82 – Retail Store
82 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
T: +61 2 9360 1471