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In The Heritage of Danish Design

Though WOODMARK was founded in Australia in 1986, the company story began in 1968 in Denmark, when 19-year-old upholsterer Arne Norgaard Christiansen took a long trip to Australia. Little did he know the far-reaching effects this would have on his life or the Australian furniture industry.

Christiansen had already been trained in upholstery craft as well as carpet-laying and curtain-making skills. His experience in the industry exposed him to the fundamental sensibilities and quality of Danish Design.

In 1986, Christiansen set up his own company as a successful importer of upholstery furniture. However, with his broad experience, he knew he could produce higher quality Danish designs. WOODMARK changed its strategic platform from importing to manufacturing and became one of the first companies to manufacturer Danish-designed furniture under license in Australia and working with iconic names including Erik Jorgensen, Hansen & Sorensen and Fritz Hansen. During the period, WOODMARK won many orders including Westpac Bank, the New Parliament of Australia and the famed Sydney Opera House. WOODMARK has built a reputation for excellence in design and high-quality manufacturing.

Arne Christiansen has inherited the essence of Danish design and determines to produce furniture that lasts and will be passed onto the next generations.

Collaboration with Australian Designers

WOODMARK developed great success in locally manufacturing Danish design but Christiansen also wanted to help develop the local design culture. When Christiansen met the promising young Australian designer Charles Wilson in 1994, it marked one of the most decisive points in WOODMARK history. He was thrilled to see Wilson’s proposal of the Swivel chair and sensed that fresh local designers had growing opportunities in the market.

Christiansen’s intuition paid off and the Swivel chair turned out to be a big hit in Australian design history and is now held in the permanent collection of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Since then, WOODMARK started to develop its own furniture designs and foster local design talents.

Unlike many European furniture icons, WOODMARK has no pretence of being philosophical. Instead, WOODMARK greets any design that looks simple while meeting WOODMARK’s standard of longevity and elegant. Christiansen has a sharp eye for design and repeatedly selects designs that perfectly fill a gap in the market – perhaps because his given name “Arne” means “eagle” from the old Scandinavian word. WOODMARK has over 40 pieces which have been developed in close connection with designers including Charles Wilson, Matthew Sheargold, Keith Melbourne, Jon Goulder, Frag Woodall, Gary Galego, Amy Tang and many others. Their works create a myriad portfolio of design and style but they all share one respect – enduring style and quality.

Stepping into the China Market

WOODMARK recognized the importance of entering the emerging Chinese market, but Christiansen knew it would require careful planning and patience to bring this idea to fruition. After careful research, WOODMARK participated in the 2008 Shanghai Furniture Fair. WOODMARK met great success and acceptance, which strengthened Christiansen’s confidence in exploring this developing market.

As a result of this early success, WOODMARK established alliances in China to manufacture 90 percent of WOODMARK’s current range of products. This enables WOODMARK to offer better value, faster delivery and more robust supply to the world market through its network of approved distributors.

Since entering China in 2008, WOODMARK has enjoyed continual sales growth in this market and foresees sustained business development; WOODMARK has made a strong commitment to be a part of developing the China market. Christiansen’s design expertise and “eagle eye” for market trends is sure to bring further success.