In 2016 furniture brand Totem Road announced itself with a Bondi pop-up. Then, in June 2017, it opened its first flagship store in Paddington, a bright space with polished concrete floor and exposed bricks. The refined fit-out is well-attuned to the collection on the floor: Scandinavian and mid-century influences in pieces including bed frames, dining tables, side tables and mirrors made from light oak.
“By creating simple pieces we aim to give people the freedom to personalise their space,” says founder Don Garvan. “They can use our furniture as a foundation rather than a statement.”
Sustainability is important to Garvan, who says these pieces are made to last. “Our furniture is imprinted with care and a deep respect for natural resources and communities,” he says. “It’s made consciously and sustainably, using only responsibly sourced materials.”
Totem Road backs this up: it donates two-and-a-half per cent of all sales to a number of nominated charities, and all wood is sourced from Mediterranean and North America plantations that are logged rather than clear-felled. All packaging is recyclable and biodegradable.
As well as being mindful of its environmental impact, Totem Road is making an effort to engage with its customers beyond sales. It recently launched a Living Room event series with an open talk on “the future of the chair” by Alan Boyd of Thonet and renowned architect Alex Ritchie of E2. It also invited designers to curate the store via its “Curated by X” series in 2017, and the team host sculpture and weaving workshops with notable artists and hold exhibitions in store.
Garvan says this collaborative spirit is essential to Totem Road. “Although we specialise in furniture, our sales assistants have extensive interior design backgrounds and expertise, so we offer consulting services to help clients with their interiors.” It also works with Melbourne brother-sister duo LAAL, who make light fixtures in “classic shapes and pieces anchored in simplicity”; Armadillo & Co’s handwoven rugs are found in store; and it works with neighbour Love Supreme to cater its events.