Take A Seat - UNO Magazine Feature
Importers of ethically made pieces carefully crafted from sustainable materials with a wealth of design history behind them, Tauranga based business Danish Furniture brings a lot to the table.
A conversation with Drew Copestake makes it crystal clear that Danish furniture is his passion – in fact, he loves it so much that he and partner Karin own a business named just that. In just over a year, they’ve taken it from strength to strength; Danish Furniture, which imports and distributes indoor and outdoor pieces from Danish design company Houe (pronounced how-ay), has 10 retail outlets around the country and a spacious new showroom in Unutoto Place, Tauriko.
Tauranga-born Drew had previously worked in adventure tourism as a white-water rafting guide, first in New Zealand from the age of 16 and, later, all over the world. But in 2019, he joined Houe as a sales manager and a new love affair began. He loved the product, he loved the role, and he loved seeing how people reacted to the innovative styling and design of the furniture, so when the opportunity came up to buy the business, he and Karin – a chartered accountant Drew describes as the brains of the business – grabbed it with both hands.
“We bought the business the day we went into lockdown last year, which was frankly terrifying!” he says. “There were quite a few sleepless nights, but we went on to have a fantastic season and the biggest issue has been keeping up with demand as shipping schedules have been disrupted. When people ask me what I do and I say I import Danish furniture, I get one of two reactions: They either say, ‘Oh, nice!’ or ask what the big deal is about Danish furniture. People have either already fallen in love with it or want to know why it’s so special – and I enjoy responding to both of those reactions."
So, what is the big deal about Danish furniture? “Danish furniture really kicked off after the Second World War,” says Drew. “When other European countries were using industrialised processes to make furniture, the Danes went back to traditional craftsmanship and natural materials, clean, minimalist lines and great design. So when you think about great mid-century design, you think of Danish furniture, and though Houe is a relatively young company, having only been around since 2007, they’ve really embraced Denmark’s tradition of design.”
They’ve not only picked it up, they’ve run with it. The company has won numerous awards, including three prestigious German design awards for their furniture. The most recent of these was in 2020, when they were recognised for the Falk chair made from recycled plastic waste, turning an environmental problem into a thing of beauty. “Even the seat cushions were made from 98 percent recycled polyester, and they looked great,” says Drew. “Houe also uses sustainably sourced materials, including bamboo, which has strength properties unrivalled by any other wood and grows incredibly fast.” HOUE proves that an ethically produced and sustainable product can still be great looking. “People typically look at our range and say, ‘Wow, that’s really different, but in a good way,’” says Drew. “It’s stylish, colourful and contemporary. Life’s too short for boring furniture. Everyone has to sit down and eat, whether indoors or outdoors, so you might as well sit down on something that’s beautiful and made sustainably. We believe the future is brighter when we combine great design and environmental sustainability. It’s an affordable luxury."