Sofa startup’s modulars win design award and rave reviews
After studying industrial design at UNSW and working for several large Australian furniture companies including Freedom, Snooze and King Living, Sydney’s Ryan Lawson launched his own furniture brand Wattle Living in 2021. The idea came to him while he was teaching Sustainable Design at UNSW and noticed the emergence of the ‘fast furniture’ trend and wanted to do something to mitigate it.
“I was living in Bondi which is a very transient community with a lot of renters. Fast fashion had been big for a while, but I noticed it creep into the furniture space which is obviously terrible for the environment,” says Ryan who observed more and more furniture on the verge during council clean-up times. Most of the furniture was cheap to begin with which made it very discardable when renters inevitably moved out of the area and their needs changed.
“But fast furniture is worse than fast fashion because it often can’t be recycled. We call furniture pieces ‘monstrous hybrids’ because furniture combines organic and non-organic materials not made for disassembly,” says Ryan who explains that most discarded furniture ends up in landfill. And with home ownership increasingly out of reach, and the number of renters increasing, it’s a problem that isn’t going anywhere soon. This is why Ryan set out to design a piece of furniture that can move with you.
“I wanted to create a long-lasting sofa that was built with quality materials and has in-built flexibility meaning it can go from home to home. I also wanted it to be serviceable,” says Ryan. The Wattle Living sofa ticks all those boxes – the truly modular design means that your sofa can be reconfigured and added to while the covers can be removed for dry cleaning or an update when your wants or needs change. “For instance, the four-seat sofa can be rearranged into two lounges that face one another. Also, it it converts into a sofa bed within a few minutes,” says Ryan.
Unsurprisingly, Wattle Living’s primary market is renters who are looking to buy a more sustainable and better product that they know they will be able to keep for a long period of time. The flexible configuration also takes the stress out of the purchase as consumers know they will be able to reconfigure the sofa when they move house. But it’s not just renters that are drawn to the brand. “We have a lot of customers that are homeowners who are drawn to the removable covers too,” says Ryan.
Testament to the sofa’s great design, it was just voted the “Award Winning Sofa” on Product Review this year due to the number of effusive and independent 5-star reviews. Incredibly, this puts it at a higher rating than a KOALA sofa despite the brand relying solely on the strength of its product and word of mouth, rather than marketing. It also won a coveted “Good Design Award” in 2020.
We can’t wait to see what the brand does next!
The Wattle Living sofa starts at $2,720 for a two-seater and is currently available in three neutral colours with more colours and leather options coming soon. They offer a 30-day sofa trial in Sydney and Melbourne metro areas.
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