Oh, What a Night …

KE-ZU Tokyo

If you have ever stopped by the KE-ZU showroom at lunch time, you know that we don’t need an excuse to eat or spend time together. So that’s exactly what we did last Friday night.


The KE-ZU team headed (in Tokyo Neon get up) to Waterloo St, Surry Hills and crowded into Izakaya Fujiama, where we ate and drank up a sake storm to celebrate an incredible year.

Wow, what knockout of a night. Sayonara 2014.






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Furniture For Thought | Bernhardt Design


John M. Bernhardt takes any notion you may have about what a lumberjack should be and turns it completely on its head. He wasn’t beefy and brawny with bulging biceps and dodgy tattoos. He didn’t wear a beanie. Heck, he didn’t even own a red flannelette shirt.

But what he lacked in stereotypes, he more than made up for as the founder of one of the world’s great furniture companies.

Orphaned at 13, Bernhardt jumped a box-car to Oregon hoping to become a government surveyor. It took him three years to realise that ‘government’ and ‘surveyor’ should never be used in the same sentence, and so he pursued a career as a lumberjack instead.

Having bigger ambitions than spending a life cutting down trees and growing a hipster beard, he purchased a sawmill. It was here he saw the opportunity to use timber to make solid oak bedroom furniture. Pretty soon folks in Chicago and New York City started buying this furniture for their homes.

And so in 1889 the Bernhardt Furniture Company was born in North Carolina. Bernhardt’s skill was in leveraging the area’s plentiful supply of beautiful timbers, and local woodworking skills. Never one to do things by halves, he opened his factory with 25 employees.

Over the ensuing decades Bernhardt expanded into all aspects of furniture for the home and office, building a stellar reputation for quality and integrity and becoming one of the premier furniture companies of the 20th century.

In 1980 Bernhardt introduced a contemporary furniture brand, Bernhardt Design and began collaborating with some of the world’s great designers – Arik Levy, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, Ross Lovegrove, Yves Behar, Suzanne Trocme, and Jaime Hayon.

KE-ZU showcases a diverse range of Bernhardt Design products including CP (Charles Pollock), Mirador (Lievore Altherr Molina), Bardot (Hayon) and Loft (Shelly). All represent the pinnacle of 21st century furniture making and design.

Bernhardt Design is a global furniture company renowned throughout the design and architectural community for the craftsmanship of its products and its environmental credentials. And although it has grown beyond even John M. Bernhardt’s towering ambitions, it remains a proud 4th generation family business celebrating its 125th anniversary.

John M. Bernhardt, we salute you.

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Furniture Free Friday | ActiWait


Amelie Künzler and Sandro Engel are ushering in new generation of traffic light buttons, with their design ActiWait, which allows pedestrians to play virtual ping pong as they wait for the light to turn green.


Recently installed in the city of Hildesheim, Germany, ActiWait transforms boring waiting times into positive experiences. Through a touch screen which is installed in the upper shell of the button, people can interact with each other across the street.

These Traffic Lights Let You Play Pong With Random Strangers

Want ActiWait in your city?  Support the idea here.

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Designer Pick | Neri & Hu

Why I choose… Neri & Hu.

With all of the products out there to source, how do I choose which pieces for what project?  And why does Neri & Hu so often fit the bill? Here’s a checklist that I employ.

Style – If there is one era of furniture style I’m wild about it’s mid 20th Century.  I can’t get enough of the clean lines, material choices and elegance.  With neri&hu this style has been adopted but adapted to today with throwbacks to classic Scandinavian and Bentwood themes.  They have designed pieces that don’t replace the classics but offer a wonderful modern style alternative.  The curves and soft edges are just calling out to be touched.

Adaptability – Gone are the days of large furniture pieces filling vast spaces.  Nowadays we are choosing smaller living spaces closer to lifestyle factors, and as such we require smaller, more functional furniture.  neri&hu have created pieces such as the Opium sofa, which provide comfort whilst incorporating side tables and shelves in the arms and back.  Their pieces hold a small visual mass, which does not impede sightlines.

A Global Product – Globalisation is a major buzzword these days.  Courses are run on it in schools and universities, the papers rave about, and we’re becoming more conscious of how interconnected we are across the globe through companies, manufacturing and products.  Furniture has long been a part of this story and no more so than in the Neri & Hu range from De La Espada – designed by Chinese designers, made with American timber, manufactured in Portugal and sold worldwide.  It is truly a global product for a global audience.

Appeal – Not only is its make up global, it holds global appeal.  Solid natural timber, solid manufacturing, solid investment.  These styles never date; they stand alone as one piece, as many or incorporated with a variety or aesthetics.

It’s a delight to have a product range that can go across many different projects – commercial and residential.  If you are looking for one beautiful piece or a setting of a number of pieces, Neri & Hu tick the boxes.

Chevonne Jackson


About Chevonne

An ex Ke-zu member who has returned to the fold as a contributor to our blog, Chevone worked for many years in the Sydney furniture and design market before heading to London, where she worked with one of the city’s largest and most established dealers of designer furniture, the Aram Store.  After having a couple of children and returning to Sydney,  she managed one of the Coco Republic showrooms.  Now she has now taken the bold step to establish her own interior design practice – Chevonne Jackson Interiors.

Chevonne is passionate about all things design and has considerable industry experience and knowledge.

We welcome her as a regular contributor to the Ke-zu blog.

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Furniture For Thought | Forestier

Furniture For Thought_Forestier

Gardens have long been a source of inspiration. Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost published in 1667, was inspired by the Garden of Eden…a place which may or may not have existed somewhere in Iranian Azerbaijan, or downtown Bankstown.

So it should come as no surprise that the eccentric Frenchman Bernard Forestier should be inspired by the formal gardens he discovered while traipsing the cobbled streets of Paris. It was specifically the proportionality of gardens, their overall balance and the elegant combination of alternating straight lines and curves providing a fragile balance between nature and design

Forestier’s passion for topiary and beautiful things was matched only by his love of the materials he worked with. Never one to march to the beat of another’s drum, he saw the botanical arts being introduced into the home, including the creation of woven metal wire items. He eventually turned to materials as different as rusted metal, zinc, and cast iron in order to present new designs that were lightweight and well-structured, combing French flair with humour.

After Forestier’s untimely death, Gilles Dalliere took over the company’s creative course with a view to make each and every piece unique. The change in direction saw a focus on luxury and natural items.

Today, Forestier under Jean Dominique Leze focuses on light and the many ways in which it is reflected. Unusual tools and solutions, new technology (such as solar and LED) combine with new forms of know-how to convey the poetic and aesthetic spirit of the company.

KE-ZU’s Mark Swanton was introduced to Forestier through designer Arik Levy:

“We were in Manila when Arik introduced me to his dear friend JD [Jean-Dominique Leze] With those two personalities and their ways of thinking, I knew the future together would be inspiring.”

With key products as diverse and imaginative as In & Out, Angelius, Cage, SPI, Antenna, Mesh, Blow and East, it’s difficult to pin Forestier down to a specific niche.

“Usually Forestier fills market gaps you didn’t realise existed until they design the product  that fills a gap,” says Swanton.

“Like most of the KE-ZU collection, Forestier’s identity is unique, yet enhances and compliments everything else we offer. Arik Levy and Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance not only design for Forestier, but also other manufacturers represented by KE-ZU.

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Spotlight | Calyx

Designed by Filipino powerhouse Kenneth Cobonpue, the Calyx Collection blurs the lines between indoor & outdoor living, endlessly inspired by the simple yet ever changing lines of a bloom unfolding.

CALYX SIDE CHAIRThe wide crown over a tightened base form the elegant silhouette for the Calyx from a matrix of interwoven strands.

The collection comprises of a loveseat, coffee table, lounge and side table and it is now on display at the KE-ZU Showroom! CALYZ

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Furniture For Thought | Kenneth Cobonpue

Kenneth CampaignWhat’s the frequency, Kenneth?

Yes, it’s the title of a famous REM song; a track inspired by the quite surreal bashing of CBS news anchor Dan Rather by a bloke who kept asking: Kenneth, what is the frequency?

But it could also be us asking Mr Kenneth Cobonpue how many awards he has picked up from the time he began studying Industrial Design at Pratt Institute in New York, 1987 to being awarded the first Maison&Objet Asia 2014 Designer of the Year 2014.

Because if there’s something Kenneth needs to design, it’s a whopping big trophy cabinet for himself. Where else could he display his 5 Japan Good Design Awards, the Grand Prize at the Singapore International Design Competition, the Design for the Asia Award of Hong Kong, the American Society of Interior Design Top Pick selection, the French Coup de Coeur Award and the aforementioned award from Maison & Objet Asia.

And there’s little doubt the trophy cabinet Kenneth designs will not only be beautiful, it will probably be hand-made from organic materials such as rattan.

Kenneth Coponpue has always gravitated towards the natural. While completing his degree in New York young Kenneth apprenticed for a leather and wood workshop near Florence Italy (1994). He also studied furniture marketing and production in Reutlingen Germany.

It wasn’t until 1996 that the prodigal son returned home to the Philippines to manage Interior Craft of the Islands Inc; a company founded by his mother in 1972.

What Kenneth did next was something rather special; he took ‘modern design’ in a completely new direction by incorporating natural fibres and materials in its production. The result was a much warmer, human aesthetic than the sleek glass, steel and concrete surfaces we had been used to.

“From the start I was seeking a fresh sensibility to embrace and develop with regard to design. I didn’t find it in Milan. Nor in New York. I found it closer to home in the tropical island of Cebu,” Kenneth once said.

Nowadays everyone from Royalty, to Hollywood royalty (Brad Pitt) count themselves amongst the wide population of folks who love and appreciate Kenneth’s designs.

Another is KE-ZU’s Caron Grunschlag.

“Kenneth was the first designer to design from the Philippines using the materials and techniques of his homeland,” Caron says. “I love that he shares his know how with other young designers and is an integral figure in growing more confident Asian designers within the whole region.”

As for stocking Kenneth’s products (among them the Croissant, Calyx, Oasis and Chiquita) for Caron, it was a no-brainer: “Australia is now a Eurasian nation and we wanted to reflect that in our offerings of the furniture that we had,” she says. “So with this in mind we went looking for the best Asian Designers and manufacturing. Kenneth was the first designer / company that we discovered that encompassed all that is great about Asian design and manufacturing using local materials and handmade techniques with a European design sensibility for products suited to our climate.”


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Furniture Free Friday | Let there be light …

Calvin Klein’s New York Apartment, designed by Joseph D’Urso, 1976

Calvin Klein’s New York Apartment, designed by Joseph D’Urso, 1976 From The NYT Book of Interior Design and Decoration. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

AnotherMag is a frequent source of amusement and inspiration here at KE-ZU and Steven Holt’s latest article “In Praise of Track Lighting” is no exception.

Tracing its history , applications and even pop culture references, along with a series of vintage pics, Holt certainly has us looking at track lighting in new ways

 Love it or hate it, no other lighting fixture offers the same level of performance, versatility, and style as track lighting. Here are 10 pictures from decades past to prove it says Holt.

Attention to Detail, 1979, by Herbert H. Wise

Attention to Detail, 1979, by Herbert H. Wise. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

Remodelling Your Home, 1979

Remodelling Your Home, 1979 Courtesy of Sunset Books. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

Planning & Remodelling Kitchens, 1979

Planning & Remodelling Kitchens, 1979. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

Better Homes & Gardens: Your Walls & Ceilings, 1983

Better Homes & Gardens: Your Walls & Ceilings, 1983. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

Your Walls & Ceilings, 1983

Your Walls & Ceilings, 1983. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

From Decorating With Plants, 1980

From Decorating With Plants, 1980. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

The New Decorating Book, 1981 © Better Homes and Gardens

The New Decorating Book, 1981 © Better Homes and Gardens. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

Interiors for Today, 1974

Interiors for Today, 1974. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

Wall Systems & Shelving, 1981

Wall Systems & Shelving, 1981. Photo Courtesy of AnotherMag

See the full article here.

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Spotlight | Flat

Flat collection by  Jorge Pensi Design Studio for Vondom is highly versatile and suitable for both outdoor and indoor use.

The collection features neutral lines and  beautifully formed aluminium legs which give the appearance that the pieces are floating mid air.

Another distinctive characteristic is the side table joined to the main unit, which at the same time is an armrest and a surface to lean on.

It’s build allows for making different combinations of pieces, to adapt them freely to any architectural space. With the corner unit able to fit easily into angular spaces.

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Furniture For Thought | Vondom


24-Hour Party People

Not many folks attend a Vondom party and come out of it completely unscathed. We are talking seriously passionate parties; parties where the Vondom poolside furniture gets a lot of use.

Fortunately, the 24-hour-party people at Vondom take their approach to furniture and lighting design just as seriously as their approach to a good party.

“Vondom are the best of the roto-moulded furniture companies supplying the contract market and it is a design company on the ascendency,” says KE-ZU’s Caron Grunschlag. “They have a huge collection of products and were one of the first companies to do illuminated furniture. There were not a lot of companies doing that when we started working with them. They also enabled us to go into the planter market which was an extension of the outdoor and general contract market that we were already serving.”

The rotational moulding technique employed by Vondom allows them to create an incredible range of colours, textures and organic forms, with the greatest range of designer collections spanning furniture, lighting and pots.

Vondom’s pots are available in a super-large range of shapes and sizes. They can be ordered with self-watering systems and as with some of the furniture, remote programmable colour LED lighting.

With a UV factor of 8, the material used in all of Vondom’s outdoor products is capable of withstanding the most extreme climatic conditions (if it can survive a Vondom party, it can survive anything). Plus every Vondom product is 100 per cent recyclable, making it a sustainable choice.

What really sets Vondom apart however is their collaborations with some of the greatest designers on the planet, including Karim Rashid, Harry & Camila, Eugeni Quitllet, Javier Mariscal, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada and Ross Lovegrove.

Sounds like an excuse for a party…

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