For Simon de Wolf, furniture is more than just a business.
“I’m a third generation importer – my father was an importer and my grandfather was an importer – and it runs in my blood, I guess.”
De Wolf has been working with furniture his entire life. He cut his teeth working with Featherston Interiors before starting his own chair company, Thonet, in 1979.
For 37 years, De Wolf and business partner Richard Daniell were responsible for putting bentwood chairs in cafes and restaurants all around Australia. In 2015, Daniell retired and the pair sold the business, but de Wolf wasn’t finished with furniture yet.
In February, de Wolf opened De Mobler in Malvern. The store specialises in classic Scandinavian designs – specifically from Norway and Finland – that aren’t available elsewhere in Australia.
“I’ve always wanted to have the best of what’s available, and I've always liked classic, simple lines that are practical as well,” says de Wolf. “We’ve selected just [a few] product ranges and I just think they’re the best. I don’t want to have everything available to everybody, so I’ve just picked what I’ve liked and what I’ve always had in my own homes.”
At the moment there are only four product lines available at De Mobler, and de Wolf has exclusive rights to most of it. One of those lines is the Siesta, a multi-award-winning, leather-and-beechwood chair designed by Ingmar Relling in 1965. The design is so iconic it’s been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
“I’ve had the Siesta chair for 30 years off and on. I’ve always loved the simplicity of its look,” says de Wolf. “It’s so functional – it’s light, it’s comfortable and it doesn’t date.”
De Wolf is the only person selling the Fjordfiest, another award-winning chair designed by Hans Brattrud, in Australia a feat he managed by paying a visit to the furniture-makers factory in Norway.
“It’s called Fjordfiesta because their factory is actually perched on a fjord in the far north of Norway,” says de Wolf. “To meet the chap, I went by boat right up into the mountains. He picked me up from this little town in Norway, and when he met me, he said, ‘We’re going by boat.’ I had this big, heavy suitcase with me – I’d been travelling around the world – but he said not to worry – he had a guide that could take care of all of that for me. So we sat in this little boat for three hours and talked about life, and that was his way of getting to know me.”
Although de Wolf says Scandinavian furniture is “in vogue” at the moment, it’s his longtime relationship to his products, as well as a commitment to stocking only authentic items, that ensures De Mobler stands out.
“We’re not trying to take over the world,” says de Wolf. “We’re a small, niche business. But we’re happy to deliver anywhere in Australia, and we’re happy for people to come into the store and take home samples; to try them out in their own homes first. Chairs have their own stories, and it’s important to see if they fit.”
“I just hope people love my furniture as much as I do.”
9 Claremont Avenue, Malvern
Mon to Fri 9am–6pm
Sun, and other times, by appointment