There’s a new locally crafted kid on the block: Inspired by the simplicity of Scandinavian and Japanese design, *Ko honours Australian design, native materials, and the surrounding environment.
Stefan Oh tells Fabric of the inspirations and motivations behind Perth’s newest local furniture brand.
So, what is *Ko all about?
Basically *Ko is about simple, well-made Australian furniture. We want to make products that last, not just in terms of build quality but style too. Our focus is to celebrate Australian craft and materials, so all our solid wood pieces are handmade in Perth using beautiful Australian timbers like Victorian Ash and Sheoak, which will only improve with age. We treat them minimally with just a natural oil finish, letting their innate beauty speak for itself. Being a socially and environmentally responsible company is also important to us, and with each product we develop we try to work as sustainably as possible.
Tell us about your partnership with Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund.
We’re proud to have partnered with the Cottesloe based non-profit, Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund to help solidify our sustainable values. A portion of each sale will be donated directly to help their cause. More info can be found on their website, cncf.com.au. We intend to expand our philanthropy as we grow, with donations from sales contributing to a selection of local causes we feel passionately about.
What sparked the concept for *Ko?
Last year I was working as an architect in Oslo with my Norwegian wife and kids. Each day on my way to work I would pass a Carl Hansen & Søn showroom and something would catch my eye. I found everything about the furniture inspiring, not just the attention to detail and amazing craftsmanship, but also the sense of history and tradition. The thought of translating those elements into a purely Australian context, with native Australian timbers and craft was very appealing.
Who is team *Ko?
We’re a small operation right now with the team consisting of only myself and my wife, Cat. Cat is Norwegian but has spent a significant part of her adult life living in Australia after moving to Sydney in her early 20’s. Scandinavians are lucky enough to grow up in a much more design-oriented culture and as a result tend to have a natural eye for good design. I have a background in graphic design but made the transition to architecture in my late twenties. We moved back from our latest stint in Oslo last November and we’re glad to be home in a warmer climate!
What products will *Ko specialise in?
Initially *Ko will focus purely on two product lines, with the primary line being our handmade, solid wood pieces. At launch we have a selection of versatile benches, and a dining chair will be following soon after, which we’re quite excited about. The second line is the *Ko Slot range consisting of an assortment of (mostly) kid’s furniture, which come flat-packed in parts for easy home assembly, no screws, glue or tools required.
Describe the style of *Ko’s products. What type of environments will they fit in to?
We take most of our design inspiration from Scandinavian mid-century modern designers, but we also love traditional Japanese furniture with its reductive minimalism and amazing joinery.
What key materials are used, and what is the inspiration behind them?
Australian timbers are prioritised where possible. Our solid wood pieces are made from Victorian Ash. We’re in the process of finalising alternative options so that we can also offer the beautiful WA native timber, Sheoak. The *Ko Slot range comes in two variants, veneered MDF and birch ply.
What point of difference does *Ko provide WA locals?
We’re very much WA centred. We support WA talent, materials, and charities. We’re proud to be from Western Australia and want *Ko to be a product of its place and a celebration of the amazing resources we have at hand here. Right now we’re starting small but we’d love to eventually establish for ourselves the same sense of design and craft tradition that we saw in Scandinavia.