“It’s a very deceiving space,” says Jo Foley, head of retail at Bolia Australia. “It’s bigger than it seems. You go in through the front door and every room is set like a home, to inspire people to make theirs a sanctuary.”

Bolia launched in 2000 in Denmark, and 24 years later it’s cornered the custom furniture market. The Scandi brand has 88 stores worldwide, and this week it opened its first shop in Australia.

“Richmond is the Mecca of furniture,” says Foley. “We did think about other locations, but at the end of the day we had to be in Melbourne, in Church Street … It’s not just a furniture store. It’s not just a lighting store. It’s not just an outdoor store. It’s everything.”

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The company’s known for its modular sofas, all handmade in Europe with FSC-certified wood. In store, customers can select fabrics from hundreds of material swatches and build their dream seating arrangement – all with a cup of tea or coffee in hand.

“Like Australians, the Danes really love their coffee,” says Foley. “I think there’s a real lifestyle connection between the Danes and Australia. They’re relaxed people. They love to explore. They’re straight talkers, too, which is fantastic.”

There are around 200 fabrics hung up on the wall in the store’s Design Atelier. There’s a refreshment station nearby, with sparkling water on tap, and hot and cold drinks. “Like a kitchen, the Atelier is the hub, the brains centre of the showroom,” says Foley. “Customers are encouraged to feel at home. Touch the fabrics. Sit on the sofa like you would at home.”

Bolia’s collections are created by designers around the world, such as Copenhagen-based Australian designer Emily Broom, who has a range of Zen Rug designs with swirling shapes like raked sand. Then there are solid marble and oak dining tables by Danish designer Michael H Nielsen that look like giant mushrooms. And German designer Oliver Schick’s mirrors are shaped like stretched tennis racquets.

“What I love about Bolia is that it’s very transparent. Everything is traceable, so you can see where everything is made and how it’s made. They’re beautiful pieces and really well crafted.”

Big-ticket items such as the dining room tables, bed frames and garden lounges have a typical lead time of 14 to 16 weeks from purchase to delivery. Everything in-store is designed with longevity in mind, and Bolia offers a 10-year warranty on all its products.

“It’s a very peaceful collection overall. It’s made for family living – it’s not for the special front room that you only sit in once in a while,” says Foley. “The fabrics are really well thought out, so if you have pets or children, there are fabrics that are easy to maintain.”

If you’re after something small and impactful, Bolia also sells glassware, vases, lamps, bath mats and yoga equipment. Foley has one of the brand’s Latch coffee tables by Singapore collective Dazingfeelsgood. “It’s a very organic shape. It’s got these three tiers so you can pull it apart and change their shape a bit. I entertain a lot and people comment on it all the time.

“It’s the whole lifestyle.”

Bolia Richmond
620 Church St, Richmond

Daily 10am–5pm