_('Yarn')
Journal

Homegrown | Ivan Bulling Furniture

Homegrown is a series highlighting some of our local and loved creative businesses in the community who have been designing and crafting on the local and international stage.

Time spent in Italy during the war exposed a young Southland creative, Ivan Bulling, to a new way of looking at things. Italian design and materials were so different to New Zealand and the long history of craft tradition reinforced his love of design and quality materials. This year marks 65 years of Ivan Bulling Ltd, starting in his grandfather’s shed tinkering and honing his skills.  Today we hear from Grant Bulling to tell us more about this iconic Invercargill-based design business.

JDT

Tell us how it all began for Ivan Bulling Ltd.

GB

Starting off in his shed in Otatara, Invercargill in 1955, Ivan sought inspiration from nature and his passion for Italy. This was forged from his time there during World War II.  Ivan was a cabinet maker and master carver.  He specialised in carving ornate furniture items that were signed and dated at the time of manufacture.  His work crossed traditional, contemporary and art deco styles of the day.
 
The workshop remains at Otatara, where we continue to create exceptional quality, classic and contemporary furniture pieces using modern methods and artisan crafting techniques.

JDT

What is your vision and driving passion?

GB

Working with our clients to provide them with the best possible furniture and interior design solutions and creating truly exceptional pieces that accompany them on their journey through life.
 
Many of our clients are return customers that still have their original handcrafted pieces produced by Ivan himself. All our furniture truly is designed to last a lifetime. Exceeding our client’s expectations of a crafted furnishing, gives us reassurance our products and services are as good as they can be.
 
We are happy to say the art of carving has not been lost with Ross continuing the skill when required.
 
The design philosophy and founding principles of our company which we still stand by today, are Proportion, Originality and Quality.

JDT

How do you satisfy this passion in your business and craft?

GB

We believe it is important to be aware of new mediums, textures and finishes and understand how these can complement and enhance our designs.
 
By continually evolving to reflect the latest design trends, while staying true to our design principles of Proportion, Originality, and Quality, we can guarantee timeless and individual design solutions. 

JDT

What makes your design process unique?

GB

We work closely with our clients, and understanding their specific needs is an important aspect of our custom design service. 
 
It starts off with a dream followed by the physical enactment, bringing that dream to life - A vision, design proportions and the iterative process of continual enhancement.
 
Often, a lot of time is spent pondering how something could be enhanced or translated into a perfectly functional furniture piece. Although, often the best ideas come from a spontaneous scribble on a serviette at a restaurant table. If we are designing a custom piece of furniture for our clients, we computer model using 3D software, followed by photorealistic renders for presentation. However, the chalk board is still a particularly useful tool to confirm size, and more importantly, proportion. Then the prototyping process can begin.  Our small yet experienced team is agile, and we have the ability to adapt to current trends and client expectations. 

JDT

Where do you get your inspiration from, past, current, future?

GB

Evolve with a nod to the past while staying current with new materials and modern technology. Inspiration can be drawn from so many sources.  Whether they be objects or an event. We take pride in our ability to turn dreams, into reality. 

JDT

What are your thoughts on craftsmanship vs. production?

GB

We have continued Ivan’s legacy of producing individual, quality handcrafted pieces that give our clients a sense of pride and personal attachment. While mass manufacturing machinery has a place for efficiency and accuracy on multiple components, we feel there is no substitute for the human hand and eye.
 
Manufacturing exceptional quality furniture is the foundation of our company, and critical to our brand.   We use raw materials that are sourced locally or by New Zealand suppliers.
 
We embrace our staff as family – they have all been with us many years, some as early as 1980. Over this time they have developed extensive skills and their knowledge has evolved with the company. We have trust in them to uphold the extremely high standards ourselves and our clients expect. 

JDT

What are the key aspects of design you are balancing – look, feel, comfort, speed of delivery, final quality and craftsmanship.

GB

We consider all the above to be the heart of our prototyping along with balance of affordability. While we will minimise cost where possible, it is not a driving factor of our designs. We believe there is no substitute for quality and comfort. As mentioned earlier, one of our design principles is proportion. This is an extremely important element to ensuring the look and feel work harmoniously. 

JDT

Do you have any favourite fabrics?

GB

Mokum Strata is a winner, along with Esplanade.

Palm Leaf

Charcoal

JDT

Which of our Brands inspire you and why?

GB

We love the story of Mokum and their in-house design team and their ability to create textiles that are applicable to today’s market.  The Mokum range offers complex weaves, beautiful textures and quality not compromised by price.

www.bullings.co.nz

Modern living areas tend to be multi-functional spaces acting as lounging, dining, theatre, gym, library & meditation areas and, at present, classroom & workplace all at once. Treating this space with maximum consideration is vital when it comes to decorative and functional elements.

Before you open your wallet however, it’s important to consider your overall design style. Eclectic?  Scandi? Contemporary? Traditional? Or do you prefer the sobriety of raw materials? With so many options, it can get confusing. Look to what you already have and how you can add to, accentuate, or adjust what is there. Whatever design style makes you comfortable, feels natural and brings joy, follow your gut.  

We’ve pulled together an edit of styling ideas that will maximise the opportunities of this central hub of the home, and ensure you feel inspired and comforted whenever you spend time there.