If your goal is to be a furniture designer/builder, here's one scenario you probably haven't envisioned. Let's say you design and finish building your beautiful piece in your shop in, I dunno, Cleveland. But the buyer lives in California. Well, guess who's getting in the truck and going to Home Depot to buy some 2x4s and CDX and will then spend a weekend building a custom crate to hold your masterpiece. Yes, you.
Shipping bulky furniture pieces is a pain in the neck, and it would undoubtedly be easier if your piece was flatpacked. The problem is that flatpack designs are often associated with chintzy cam-lock connectors, cheap quality and basic, boring design. So I was excited to find a company at Holz-Handwerk that is trying to change this perception by designing better hardware.
Scheulenburg's mission is to develop and sell "quality furniture fittings and connecting systems" made from nickel- or zinc-plated steel. Managing Director Georg Scheulenburg hopes that by producing rock-solid connections, he can woo designers who'd otherwise dismiss knockdown fasteners. Here's an example of one of their systems, the XS:
(While the wood in the video is rendered as having end grain, I imagine these are designed for use in engineered woods; I couldn't spot any provision for wood movement.)
In order to open up design possibilities, the company produces connectors that step outside of the 90-degree box, like this version or this version that can be used at various angles:
As an example, the following furniture piece is joined with Scheulenburg connectors:
The company will ship worldwide—"One of my best customers is in Vietnam," Scheulenburg said—and business is apparently booming, with several recent years of tremendous growth. But as Scheulenburg confided to me in the booth, he's somewhat dismayed at the level of designs utilizing his connectors, as he feels they're not bold enough, and are still too similar to typical flatpack designs.
When he heard I was an editor for a design publication, he sat me down in his booth, with the almost desperate look of a man who wants to talk about design but has been trapped with people that don't care about design.
"People need to think, 'better design,'" he said, pulling out a huge binder. He flipped through it and showed me this photo:
"You know what that is?" he asked.
"A Thonet," I said.
"The Thonet No. 14 chair. Designed 1859, maybe the most famous chair in the world. Look how it has been designed. You see here they can fit 36 of these chairs into one crate, just one square meter.
"Look at the finished chair. Does that look like flatpack?" he said. "No! It is beautiful!" He flipped through the binder and showed me another photo:
"Does that look like flatpack?" he asked. "No! You never guess. The designer makes a beautiful chair. Because of a good connection system and good planning, he can design it to fit into this crate, too. Twenty-four chairs in one crate. Designed over 70 years ago. And what do we design today?"
What Scheulenburg desperately wants is a forward-thinking designer to understand the possibilities their fasteners offer and create something unique using them.
"Yes, business is good," he said, somewhat glumly, "even great." He rattled off some off-the-record figures that I found astonishing.
"We will continue to grow and innovate, that's not the problem. We know how to design and produce good connection systems, that's also not the problem," he told me.
"What we need is A DESIGNER."
Are you that designer? Delve into Scheulenburg's offerings here.
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Since 1997 were are producing our connecting systems in our German factory in the black forest. At the INTERZUM 2013 we introduced for the first time our System to the general public. We are supplying the leading European furniture manufacturers with our connecting systems. That somebody received 2013 a patent on products we are manufacturing for more than 19 years is unbelievable. Today we instructed our patent attorney to clarify the facts.
V.M.V. Scheulenburg GmbH
What strange timing...
Thank you for your message. We would be more than happy to send you some samples, so that you can try out our Australian innovation.
Can you please forward me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with some more information about your business and the types of materials you use.
I can then provide you with further information about our patented connectors and the best products for you.
I look forward to working with you.
Please note the product and concept presented in the above article is in direct breach of the patents held by TorpedoCSIS Pty. Ltd. (BOSETH Pty. Ltd.) - www.torpedocsis.com
Patent details -
EU; Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom - http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=US&NR=2011008127A1&KC=A1&FT=D
A complete list of our patent details is available at www.torpedocsis.com/#patent
For all product and distribution enquiries please contact us at email@example.com or call Jess Warton on +61 408 456 680.