We are really excited to have an article about our business in the recent issue of Latitude magazine on Page 34 (Jun/Jul 2020)
A CHILDHOOD PASSION
From 1.6 metre high spiral wooden lamps to cascading coffee tables, Christchurch based furniture designer, Paul Harding-Browne of No Boundaries Furniture is drawing attention with his furniture designs that are both ecologically friendly and naturally beautiful, yet design provocative and captivating.
When asked when did his love of furniture making begin, Paul Harding Browne fondly recalls his father’s influence whose standard answer to “Can we buy a….?” was “Let’s see if we can make it.” We didn’t have a television for most of our childhood and I can barely remember a moment when we were designing, creating or building something. I was one of four boys and we all went in different creative directions but we all had amassed a lot of practical and technical skills well before we left school because our father took the time to teach us.”
The decision to start a custom made furniture making business in 2008 from scratch came after several years of making furniture for family and friends in his spare time and then selling successfully a few pieces. Paul’s earlier work in plastics manufacturing, quality assurance, health and safety, and IT, gave him skills that served him well in setting up the business.
Another important strategy that helped the business grow surely and steadily was balance. “We didn’t take big risks as we knew that most new businesses fail so we made it our goal to have a sustainable business as well as sustainable life. We had children so we definitely did not do the ‘leap and the net will appear’ kind of strategy. We had a debt free policy and my wife Deb and I continued to work part-time until there there was a steady stream of work in the business for both of us.”
An early request to make a huge double-seater spiral deck chair was rather challenging and took a few months to make. However, it was during this time that Paul realized that the more difficult a project, the more he enjoyed it. This experience spawned his business plan: to make or fix anything at all that people wanted made of wood.
The double spiral deckchair was also a catalyst to making lamps and tables with various forms of spirals from the beautiful wood off-cuts that were leftover from making a piece of custom made furniture. However, Paul reveals there was also an opportunity to illustrate the central concept of the business which was to not have limits or parameters around what he was prepared to make, hence the name No Boundaries Furniture.
Another source of inspiration for Paul’s creative furniture has been and the various shapes and forms of trees which he incorporates to his designs first by drawing design and then by making scale models to see if it will work. All this can take months before I cut my first piece of wood. “I love nature. When we aren’t working in the business, we are hiking or mountain biking – I guess a lot of that for me comes from growing up on the West Coast and Deb’s family came from the Mackenzie Country so she is always keen to get to remote places and mountains, as well.”
Caring for the natural environment, No Boundaries Furniture does not take it for granted and sources timber from companies that have sustainability accreditation such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) PEFC (The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification). Their business also up-cycles, repairs and restores furniture for their clients.
Creating a workshop/studio and gallery at home has allowed Paul, not unlike his father, to teach his girls a lot of practical skills. Brie, 17, and Sarah, 14, have grown up designing and creating their own furniture, and have done quite a lot of paid work in the business too. “It will be interesting to see the directions that they take, but we have tried to resource their interests and definitely encouraged them to follow their curiosity and to develop what they enjoy doing.”