Caroline Olah was working as an interior architect in New York when she couldn’t find the furniture she wanted for her client’s hotels and office towers.
“I was doing floors and floors of furniture and I just wanted simple products that I could customise for specific room sizes and locations, but there was nothing out there you could tweak that came in different colours at a good price point,” she says. “With fashion, there are brands like Uniqlo and APC that offer jumpers in classic designs and different colours that can be changed a little each season, so I thought ‘Why can’t the same principle apply to furniture?’”
With her husband, Andrew Olah, who was then a sales executive at Google, she began creating prototypes for a customisable furniture brand, testing them out on friends in Hong Kong, where the duo moved for Andrew’s work.
The result is Reddie, a brand based in Sydney’s Surry Hills producing handcrafted, sustainable furniture that’s is customisable by size and material.
Employing a mid-century Danish aesthetic, the husband and wife team use materials such as solid teak, marble and glass to create well-priced statement tables, chairs, workstations and storage units that are designed to be functional and timeless. “Our target customer is someone who likes good quality and is design savvy but is also looking for an attainable price point,” says Andrew.
The furniture is made in Central Java, Indonesia, where the pair set up their own factory. “I went and met with hundreds of factory operators, and they all thought I was crazy because they wanted volume and mass production rather than customising individual products,” says Andrew. “The team we built are fifth generation craftsmen who live and breathe woodworking and furniture production. Caroline and I are also both half Indonesian, so the factory feels like home.”
All of the wood is ethically sourced from certified government plantation forests in the region. Offcuts are used for smaller items such as chopping boards and bowls, and marble leftovers are given to the local community to build footpaths and houses.
The perennial best sellers from the Reddie factory are the Jay rattan chair and the Suzy side table, which doubles as a laptop table. When Covid hit, the NCW workstation, originally designed for offices, became a surprise hit. “When I was originally doing some office fit-outs for tech companies, all the workstations were pretty bad: lots of laminate with clunky and generic design features,” says Caroline. “We decided to create a customisable workstation that included rattan and wood with different colour options.”
And if you have specific work from home requirements in mind, Caroline and Andrew are happy to oblige. “Clients are loving … that they can customise,” says Caroline. “We recently made one on wheels so the client can wheel it around the house.”
Reddie has a Sydney showroom at 322 Crown Street, Surry Hills, open 10am to 5pm on Monday and Sunday or by appointment on Saturdays. It also delivers across Australia.