Anticipation is building for the 20th anniversary edition of Decor + Design & The Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF), 17 – 19 July at Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Along with a slew of new brands, we are delighted to welcome back Australian heritage exhibitors that our visitors love to see, including Uniqwa Collections.
The brand has a cult following in the Australian design industry, with beautifully crafted furniture that is inspired by both nature and ethnic artisanal culture from founder Charl van Heerden’s native South Africa.
Merging Cultural Influence with Modern Manufacturing
Charl’s passion for furniture making runs deep. Excelling in woodwork at school, he produced an impressive portfolio at a young age. Surrounded by natural materials and talented craftsmen, these roots can be seen in the Uniqwa aesthetic and attention to detail.
On moving to Melbourne, Charl continued his education in furniture by completing a diploma in furniture design and technology at RMIT in Melbourne.
Key inspiration includes the beautiful high-end African resorts in the most remote areas of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
Creating Sanctuaries for Relaxed Living
Now based in Queensland, Charl started Uniqwa in 2009. However, it wasn’t until 2014 – after recovering from the Brisbane floods that swept through the Uniqwa warehouse – that the brand really started making its mark on the Australian design industry.
“Our founding ethos is to offer a product to the market that allows our clients to create sanctuaries in both residential and commercial spaces, inspired by the world’s great luxury escapes,” says Charl van Heerden.
“Coastal Safari best describes our look, with an aesthetic that encourages relaxed luxury living.”
Bringing Stunning Interior Design Projects to Life
Uniqwa has built an incredibly strong trade business, working with talented architects and interior designers across the country on diverse projects.
“Many of the projects we work on are high end boutique resorts and restaurants, including the stunning Villa Riad (pictured above), the epitome of barefoot luxury in Byron Bay,” says Charl.
“Another one is Sunsets Rooftop Desert Oasis, Brisbane’s newest Mediterranean inspired rooftop designed for their visitors to be captivated by its cultural aesthetics.”
The Uniqwa team also worked on Sandstone Point Holiday Resort, the newest luxury overwater villas that are said to be Australia’s’ answer to the Maldives overwater bungalows.
“We work on projects with incredible building design companies such as GRAYA. We also have a thriving international presence working on wonderful projects in Bali, Tanzania, the Americas as well as the Middle East.”
Unique to the Core
Uniqwa’s products stand apart thanks to their singular design aesthetic, such as the Karoo Mirror. They are salvaged from a very limited supply of antique Indonesian teakwood ploughs that are no longer used. They once were old rice paddy ploughs used in a yesteryear before more modern tools replaced them. They are therefore relatively scarce and each one has its own unique characteristics, shape, and personality.
“The Karoo Mirror has been a wonderful product to share with our clients and has been incredibly popular,” says Andrea. “After the success of the Karoo Mirror, we expanded the range to include the stunning Karoo sofa collection.”
Every Piece Has a Story
Many of our products, such as the Karoo Mirror, have a story which we love. It allows our clients to select products for their clients that they can connect with on a deeper level due to the history and stories surrounding the products. The use of recycled materials, plantation timbers and natural renewable materials make up most of our collections. To be environmentally responsible is one of our core values. We manage our timber supply chain with humanity & consciousness.
Uniqwa believe in the closed-loop cycle of recycling. Where possible, the company uses reclaimed, recycled and even wood scraps to create sustainable furniture. Many of their designs are created with this in mind.
“Our goal is to design furniture that can be used throughout a lifetime or that can be continually reused,” says Charl.
“We are committed to Uniqwa Collections’ timber pieces being sourced sustainably; being either reclaimed or sustainably sourced plantation wood.”
“We also focus on reducing the environmental impact of our designs by using alternatives to furniture stains where possible, for eg: the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban burning method instead of using black furniture stain.
Uniqwa also refuse to support any manufacturer that does not adhere to eco ethical practice. For example, they do not produce any items that have been made from rainforest timber.
“Our goal is to not simply comply with environmental standards but to ensure that the local communities we work within are respected by protecting their habitats of endangered plant and animal species.”
“We love the environment as much as we love great design. Our conscious effort to offer responsible, eco-friendly furniture is a founding part of Uniqwa Collections.”
Expect a Huge Return to the Exhibition
Uniqwa are returning for the first time in many years to Decor + Design & The Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF). With the theme of Evolution, the 20th edition of Australia’s premier interiors trade event promises to be a celebration of established brands and emerging talent.
“We are so excited to return to the show this year because as a brand we have evolved so much since we last exhibited,” says Charl.
“Visitors can expect to see incredible growth in the brand, and we will be showcasing higher end luxurious designs in a fresh new setting that captures the essence of luxury escape.”
Don’t miss seeing Uniqwa Collections at Decor + Design & The Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) 2024 at Melbourne Exhibition Centre, 17 – 19 July. Subscribe now to receive updates on exciting show features, as well as the wider world of design and furniture.