Living Edge officially unveiled their new flagship showroom in Sydney last night with a sumptuous industry do, we take you behind the scenes for an exclusive interview with Director Aidan Mawhinney, on where they’ve been, where they are, and most importantly… where they’re going.
February 9th, 2015
Why was the decision made to reassess the Living Edge showroom capability?
AIDAN: Two fold really – firstly, necessity. Our retail showroom (74 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills) was sold and is to be developed, so there was a need to relocate. We had been at that location since 2005, and though it was once the Surry Hills design quarter, most of our neighbours had moved out and south to Alexandria and the surrounding suburbs. Secondly, there was a desire to get efficiency from our spaces. Combining the Contract/Residential showrooms allowed us to have a larger footprint for similar rents. We have now been able to create more of a destination showroom and a much better experience for our clients.
What were the main considerations and concerns when deciding to physically and philosophically move the brand?
AIDAN: The physical space; it was incredibly important to find somewhere that would suit our new direction and brand. We were certain we wanted to be south of Sydney – Alexandria or nearby. There are a lot of positive factors about this area, and being near other furniture companies is also beneficial. This area is definitely emerging in terms of consumer traffic, notable in the proliferation of more consumer brands and cafes in the area. There is however, a distinct lack of good stock on the market and that’s why the search took approx 18 months with various possibilities considered, and many discarded due to their unsuitability or lack of character. We weren’t going to settle for just anything.
What are the main objectives of this shift?
AIDAN: The main objective of this shift would be to start laying the foundations of a new look for Living Edge. This will be a new flagship showroom, from which the other showrooms in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth will be based, from a design and experience point of view. From a Sydney point of view, it is to bring all the facets of our business together under one roof and to essentially create a new and exciting HQ for Living Edge to operate its national business from.
How did you come across the Woolstores location, and why did you ultimately decide to plant the Living Edge flag there?
AIDAN: The Woolstores precinct came across our radar during our 18 month search where I was personally involved in looking at over 50 other possible properties. The Woolstores stood out immediately due to its history and character– something a lot of the buildings in the area don’t have. Knowing that Lipman Associates and Gray Puksand were responsible for delivering the project, we had the confidence that it would be re-imagined to a very high level. We are pleased to say this has been the case! The Woolstores is definitely a stand out precinct in the area, and one that will attract a lot of attention I am sure.
What have been some of the biggest challenges throughout this process (Both logistical and business /branding wise) and how were these challenges solved?
AIDAN: For us, one of the biggest challenges was the timing. Making sure that we could seamlessly move three other sites into the Woolstores in a timely and cost effective manner was definitely something that we had to overcome. The timing of the Woolstores construction itself – and trying to plan/design an interior when the building doesn’t really exist was certainly challenging for our team. It was through the experience and knowledge of the Woods Bagot team that we were able to come to terms with such challenges, and the results really speak for themselves.
How will this shift impact on Living Edge as a business and as a brand? How are you anticipating this will effect the way clients view Living Edge in the market?
AIDAN: We hope this move will have a hugely positive impact for Living Edge. Certainly from within, our staff are incredibly excited about this new and exciting chapter of Living Edge. Having been through its hardships of the past, we see this as a real focal point of the past four years’ hard work and dedication by all the Living Edge staff to get us to where we are today. The appointment of several new brands only goes to strengthen our offering and this will be showcased for the very first time in the new Woolstores showroom. We would hope that the new customer experience, the new and exciting brands from all over the globe and the fact it’s all in a new design precinct provide a unique experience for each and every Living Edge customer. Hopefully something that they haven’t had from within our industry before – but something they will find they want to discover time ad time again.
What is the overall vision for Living Edge over the next 5-10 years and how does the move fit into that vision?
AIDAN: The vision for Living Edge for the next 5-10 years is really to become a leader in what we do – bringing world class brands – world class in terms of quality, service and design, not to mention reputation, into this country in a way that is commensurate with the quality of the people we represent. To provide a unique experience to all who come and discover what Living Edge really has to offer now, compared to what it had in the past. We see this move as a significant step in transforming Living Edge from an emerging player in the market, to an established and reputable business with its own place in the industry here in Australia.
Photography by Trevor Mein.
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