Furniture for super-rich

17:00, Aug 03 2012

A bespoke piece of furniture handcrafted in Christchurch from ancient timber reclaimed from lakes and rivers in pristine New Zealand wilderness is a piece of paradise the American super-wealthy are willing to pay for.

That is what Treology, the new luxury brand of established Christchurch family business Davies Furniture, is selling.

Furniture making in Andrew Davies' family dates back to his great-great-grandfather, Robert Norrie, who made furniture for the first Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey. Davies' father, Robert, founded Davies Furniture in Christchurch in 1961.

Now managing director of the family furniture business, Andrew Davies decided last year during a family trip to Paradise in Otago to act on an idea he'd been mulling over for about 10 years - Treology, a brand based on sustainability and celebrating the imperfections of nature.

The target market is interior designers who work for financially wealthy but time-poor clients in the United States.

Those clients are family-oriented and design-conscious, Davies says.


He and wife Melany-Jayne travelled to San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles in May to launch the brand and validate their pricing for Treology.

Through contacts formed at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York the couple met Clodagh - one name, like Madonna - a revered Manhatten interior designer who has worked for the likes of Robert Redford.

Davies says Clodagh immediately took his iPad and showed the Treology images to her staff, telling them she wanted them to start specifying pieces for apartments.

So do they have orders yet?

"No, but they're coming," Davies says, with a broad smile.

For those clients who are not exactly sure where New Zealand is, or sceptical about the sustainability of the timber, they can trace the origin of their piece using a GPS mapping system which pinpoints where the original timber was found.

Treology sources sustainable timber from licensed suppliers that have permission to retrieve naturally felled trees that have fallen into fiords, lakes, rivers and swamps in New Zealand.

In Fiordland, before the submerged tree can be lifted, it has to be catalogued, its species identified and its exact location recorded.

The timber is all "naturally felled" - meaning it was felled by landslides or earthquakes and has fallen into the water, where it has stayed sometimes for centuries. The water preserves the wood and adds colour and patterning.

Each log must be approved as being authentic in origin and species by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. That means each piece of timber can be traced from where it was found, all the way through the manufacturing process.

The roots of the trees are turned into natural sculptures while the trunks are used to handcraft furniture or artwork.

The company also works with owners of buildings demolished after the Christchurch earthquakes to retrieve timber .

Davies Furniture has relocated from its Blenheim Rd premises after a detailed engineering evaluation revealed the building did not meet the new seismic building code requirements and is now housed at in Bromley, where the two businesses are collaborating as The Design Workshop, incorporating the three brands of Southern Creations, Davies Furniture and Treology.