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Celebrating a legacy: Stylecraft’s 70th birthday

This year marked Stylecraft’s 70th birthday – time to reflect on a rich history of raising the bar in Australian furniture, design and lighting.

Celebrating a legacy: Stylecraft’s 70th birthday

Original Stylecraft desk and chair on display at the current William Street showroom in Sydney.

Stylecraft is celebrating 70 years in business, a remarkable achievement and testament to how deeply their roots in the design community reach. We should know – at Indesign, we’ve shared much of the journey with Stylecraft over the last two decades. From Milan trips to Saturday Indesign, the relationship feels like an expression of the Australian design community at its best.

Established in Melbourne 1953, Stylecraft has earned one of the most longstanding reputations in the Australian design industry. Even with our 90 magazine issues, they make us at Indesign look like newcomers! We have, however, enjoyed a close relationship for many years, with some iconic advertisements and events. The appearance of Boy George to close Saturday Indesign at Stylecraft’s Melbourne showroom, for example, was a standout memory.

Owner and managing director of Stylecraft, Anthony Collins.

For owner and managing director, Anthony Collins, the anniversary is a chance to reflect on legacy. “The business was started in 1953 by Peter DeCrespigny – there is a legacy that he started and that we want to continue. We’re custodians of the Stylecraft brand and business.”

Stylecraft Desks & Chairs first opened in Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne in 1953.

A series of pivotal moments have marked the years, most notably with the expansion into new cities and markets during Collins’ time at the helm. In 2003, Stylecraft was in Sydney and Melbourne but has steadily developed a national and, with Singapore, international presence. Now, the company has showrooms established in Canberra, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Stylecraft Showroom – Melbourne.
Stylecraft Showroom – Singapore.

“Each time we expanded, it was a pivotal moment. The other moments that stand out are around products – the Catifa Chair by Italian brand Arper, for instance, changed the course of our business,” says Collins. “Then there are such pivotal moments around Australian design. We’ve been well on our way with that story of Australian design for over two decades, but I think we got really serious about it when we initially partnered with Derlot and Alexander Lotersztain.”

Arper stands as one of Stylecraft’s longest running European brand partnerships, spanning over two decades. 

Supporting Australian design is indeed one of the pillars of Stylecraft. It’s a focus that goes right back to the brand’s roots, but also one that has been developed more intensively by brand director, Tony Russell. The momentum that Lotersztain garnered, for example, created the conditions for Russell to nurture relationships with designers including Ross Gardam, Helen Kontouris, Tom Skeehan and Keith Melbourne.

Stylecraft iconic advertisements: Case by Cornwell Hecker featured in Indesign Magazine Issue 10, August 2002. Collaborations with local designers, such as Cornwell Hecker in the late 90s, honour the brand’s roots.

“I first started working with Stylecraft when we launched the Half Full collection during 2011 Saturday Indesign,” says Ross Gardam. “12 years of working together is a testament to the strength of the relationship. The personal connections I have formed over this time with the Stylecraft team have been some of the most rewarding parts of the partnership and 70 years of business is definitely something to be celebrated. It’s a pleasure to be working with a company with such a strong heritage.”

Stylecraft iconic advertisements:
Place Collection featured in Indesign Magazine Issue 82, November 2020.

When it comes to partnering with brands, including some special collaborations with European companies, the emphasis is always on trust and a certain sense of personability. Our partnerships, whether local or international, are really authentic – they’re built on trust and working really hard for each other,” says Collins.

Stylecraft’s inaugural rug collection released in 2018 by Australian design heavyweights including Ross Gardam, Alexander Lotersztain, Keith Melbourne, Tom Skeehan and Helen Kontouris. 

Indesign Media founder and CEO Raj Nandan was there to speak when Stylecraft celebrated 60 years. He reflects now on how “Stylecraft has really set benchmarks with clarity and conviction. They have set such high standards that we’ve always used as an example at Indesign and Anthony has done really well since he’s been head of the company.”

Stylecraft’s 60th birthday celebrations – Indesign Media founder and CEO, Raj Nandan.

It all ties into a picture of Stylecraft’s future which, Collins explains, is directed by a simple, clear but meaningful driver: “to make Stylecraft a really good business” and a place where staff love to work. Rather than simply being bigger for the sake of it, the next chapter is about being well-run and based, as ever, on those relationships and that longstanding reputation in the design community.


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