Furniture that’s Uniqwa

11 August 2021

South-African designer Charl van Heerden has carved a niche in the furnishing industry with his `contemporary ethnic’ designs inspired by the history of the Indian and African cultures. Since completing his studies in furniture design and technology at Melbourne’s RMIT, Charl went on to establish the Uniqwa brand in June 2009 and has received notable recognition for his ornate, handcrafted wooden designs. “I design about half of our ranges and source and adapt the rest,” says Charl.
“We’re committed to sustainability and mainly use recycled woods such as mango and acacia.”

After their success at the recent Furnitex trade show from July 21-24, the Brisbane-based company took their unique designs to the States to exhibit at the Las Vegas Markets. This is just the beginning for Charl, who says Uniqwa are looking to expand further into the international market including New Zealand, Europe and USA this year.
On his recent tour of the States, FFO asked Charl to explain his unique product range, the new sustainable and eco-friendly coconut mosaic wall tiles, and his Zulu outdoor sofa range.

You are importers of the Kamala furniture collection which was released at Furnitex – tell us about this range?

Our Kamala Collection is a Uniqwa design, created from Acacia Timber from India. We put it through a unique process to achieve its interesting finish. Kamala in Hindi means lotus flower and the inspiration of this design which has a simple, pure and organic nature. The Bedroom setting and Dining Table were the star products at this year’s Furnitex stand with interest generated from some key retailers nationwide.

Launched for the first time in Australia at Furnitex, was the 100% sustainable and eco- friendly coconut mosaic wall tiles – what was the response to these?

We had an amazing and humbling response to this wonderful product. The core message of sustainability was recognised by the buyers and we are very happy to announce that our cocomosaic tiles will be used in multiple display homes around Australia. From Interior Designers to Architects, Furniture designers wanting them for raw material for furniture design to Retailers wanting to capitalise on selling more from there wall space, everyone loved the product. We are committed to developing the product and this is only the beginning.

A collection that comes from the heart, is the handcrafted Naga collection – inspired by a tribe in northern India – What is the story and the process behind making these collections?

This collection was inspired by the tribal influences of Nagaland in Northern India, the primitive yet simple design inspired a collection which links to similar tribal art of Africa. The collection is handmade from 100% recycled old doors. The collection is made up of multiple accent pieces that embrace our company brand of `Contemporary Ethnic’ design.

You also supply Zulu outdoor Sofa – what are the unique benefits and features of this product?

The Zulu Sofa was our show stopper that attracted a lot of attention to our brand. It is made from solid rattan with a chunky solid feeling. The Zulu Collection is made with water repellent and UV protected fabric cushions suitable for outdoor usage.

What gap in the market does it fill?

We specialise in unique collections that have a point of difference. Offering wholesale, container programs as well as our new made to order programs allow our clients to access better pricing whilst offering more solutions and choice in purchasing.


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