Beeline Design is the vision of wood artisan Adam Brislin, who first established the business in 2010. "Beeline Design specialise in beautifully designed handcrafted furniture and Adam’s personal passion is handcrafting stylish, exquisitely made, designer furniture from fine Australian timbers."
Adam is an award-winning craftsman who has had over 15 years of experience in making quality handcrafted furniture. Beeline Design makes stunning designer tables, cabinets, stools, furniture and other finely-crafted items from some of Australia’s most amazing and beautiful hardwood timbers.
I was lucky enough to sit down with Adam to talk all things furniture, design and where his love and inspiration for furniture design and construct comes from...
Tell us about yourself - what path led you to starting your own furniture design company?
I was born and bred in Bunbury Western Australia. I found my love for woodworking when I was at high school and it was fortunate that my school offered after school classes which really gave me a platform to work from. On completion of year 12 I opted to take a trade based occupation and enrolled in a pre-apprenticeship course in cabinetmaking at the South west college of Tafe for 12 months. My course was nearing its finish and having not secured an apprenticeship my lecturer spoke to me about going to meet a woodworker/ craftsman at Australind by the name of John Ablett who was considering taking an apprentice on. I met the man and instantly was in awe of his work; I knew I belonged there and felt that it was meant to be. I learnt so much from that experience and it truly set me on a path of being a furniture maker. I did deviate my furniture career for a moment when I decided to work in outback Western Australia in the mines on a exploration drill rig then though mining I felt, had no soul though it provided me with the money I needed to travel and live in London for a few years. When landing overseas I was forced to find a job and I reverted back to my woodworking skills and landed a small job with an Aussie builder renovating Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne's house, this was a sweet novelty and once that finished I managed to get a job with Weldon flooring, a bespoke flooring company who worked alongside super wealthy clients including the opportunity to work for The Royal Family.
I had always wanted to make furniture for myself and I think the break I had from it, plus the time away in the Uk gave me the push to start seriously thinking about starting my own business. The real catalyst for my start up was when I found a space to work from in a co operative in Preston; other contributing factors on the journey were that I felt like I had gained substantial experience and knowledge and I had learnt so much from the two furniture companies I worked for in Melbourne. I am the type of person that needs to feel a sense of achievement and to be challenged; I think I have stumbled upon one of the largest challenges yet - starting a small business.
Tell us a bit about Beeline Design?
Beeline design is a small furniture manufacturer, based in Preston Melbourne. We are involved in a co operative called Worco which is a long established co operative that had been going since 1979. Beeline design is made up of myself and my partner Lucy and we pride our selves on producing fantastic quality work using correct joinery techniques and quality materials and finishes. I like to think we are really versatile and can turn our hand to most things with my initial training with John in furniture, wood carving, wood turning and inlaying, to parquetry flooring in the UK, production and recycled timber furniture in Melbourne. I have gained a good skill set which allows us to take on all sorts of jobs, including the Attica Restaurant beehive boxes. At beeline design we are conscious of our environmental impact so we add value by using a lot of recycled timber destined to be land fill and we hand apply organic oils to all our work which minimises emissions commonly seen in manufacturing.
Which is your favourite piece of furniture so far?
I would probably have to say they are all favorites in many respects, I think you form a bond between you and your work and there is an emotional attachment you have to a piece when it has been created from your own hands. I would have to say my latest piece Le: Six trestle table is my favourite; I guess because I have revamped an older design to make it fresh again - plus I love the utilitarian drawer attached, it just seems to make sense! it's a great place to chuck your keys or wallet.
What does a typical day involve for you?
As I am still establishing my business I have to keep working for another company so a typical day involves a 7 am start working for a architectural joinery company, which I really enjoy. I finish up around 4.30pm to then start at my factory for the evening session, a small 4 min commute away. I work to around 10pm 3-4 nights a week. It's a hard week but I have conditioned myself to it and building a business takes time. There is always a lot of juggling to do, working with stockists and private commission work; I have timelines to work to therefore long hours are part of the gig. Dependent upon work I could be machining timber, sanding or drilling for an entire evening, although I normally work on several items at once.
Where do you source your timber and other products from?
I get a lot of my recycled timber from the salvage yard at the front of my factory, though depending on the requirements of the job I source timber through connections I have or search other yards. When working with boutique Australian timbers or American timbers I usually go to Mathews timbers in Rooks Rd Vermont as they stock a huge range of quality timbers. For the oil finish I go to the Enviro shop in Northcote, it's a product I have been using for close to twenty years and love the fact it's organic and German and it gives an awesome result. Glues and hardware I source locally around Preston, I am situated near Bell St therefore everything within arms length, I am spoilt with quality suppliers.
What is the best moment so far for Beeline Design?
One we definately got excited about was seeing the dovetailed beehive boxes "plight of the bees" (Atticas name for the dish), appear on the 2013 grand final of Master Chef Australia. It was a commission they asked me to do and I decided to dovetail them for durability as well as I knew aesthetically they needed to be first class as Attica is the best restaurant in Australia. After the boxes I was commissioned for several other products including their cutlery and bread trays.
Who are your favourite Australian furniture designers?
There are many amazing furniture designers in our country and I think I have been influenced by their work over the course of my career. The first craftsman I admired significantly was a Tasmanian artisan by the name of Kevin Perkins. I was blown away by his work and the piece of his that stole my attention was the Cape Barron Goose Cabinet. There are plenty of others that I respect, including Neil Erasmus, Roy Schack and Melbourne's Anton Gerner.
Who, what, or where do you look for inspiration?
Inspiration comes from many facets, I'm always inspired by the other members of my co operative; I am surrounded by creative people from Violin makers to Harpsichord making to Black Smithing to Home ware Designing. The people I work alongside are my biggest inspiration. Lucy and my daughter Audrey are a big inspiration to me alongside my mum and late grandmother. Inspiration I believe comes mostly from within as you have to stay positive and put yourself out there .
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