Cantilever is a design-focused manufacturing business in Brunswick east that are known for their beautiful hand-crafted kitchens and custom joinery. Their use of high quality and hard-wearing materials are carefully curated and ethos as a brand is environmentally aware. Each kitchen Cantilever have created presents as simple, elegant, and playful that speak to a vast array of interiors styles making them not only timeless but adaptable.
We recently caught up with Creative Director Kylie Forbes talk more about where it all started and cantilever their most recently creation of EDIT with Australian designed and made furniture brand Kett.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to design bespoke kitchens?
Cantilever now offers five systems K1, K2, K3, Tableau and EDIT. What does your design process look like for conceptualising and refining these designs?
Do you have a favourite system, and do you have one at your own home?
I’m currently waiting for my next Cantilever kitchen, having moved to a new home. I must admit, I’m feeling a little impatient! Travis and I are in the process of planning our own renovation, which does suffer the neglect of our attention, in comparison to our clients! We haven’t pinned down all the details, but EDIT is likely our direction, I love it’s suppleness! Though to say it is my favourite would be unfair. I love the diversity of application across our product group, the ability to connect with the aesthetic of a client, and flex to meet their needs. Our values of design for longevity embrace the possibility of a design classic, I love the thought this can be met from varied view-points.
You have previously said that collaboration is an inherent part of the Cantilever business model and called this the “complete loop design”. How is collaboration woven into the Cantilever story?
The design and construction industry is at its’ best, highly collaborative. The network of trade and design professionals required to execute projects of any scale is without compromise. It is only strong communication; and a bird’s eye view of how one’s own work intersects the success of anothers’ that allows a deepening knowledge, and seamless results. Likewise with product development. We have developed strong manufacturing and trade relationships that allow the expertise of the myriad material and custom elements that create a Kitchen to cohabit together, repeatedly.
Our service model mimics similar principals, which encompasses the design, manufacture, and installation of our joinery, hence ‘closed loop system’. We value this approach, as it retains and deepens the knowledge of our team, connecting each of the steps in a chain that feeds back into our product development, which ultimately improves the product for our clients and our design knowledge. The process also offers a high level of accountability for our clients, and detailed support for project trades, which is something that we, and they value. Creating beautifully designed and executed projects is what we want to do.
Your most recent kitchen system ‘EDIT’ was in collaboration with Australian furniture brand Kett.
How did this project differ from your previous ones, and how did the collaboration influence the end result?
We say EDIT is a meeting place, for memories.
When Cosh were designing their new Showroom in Richmond, they were inspired by the concept of meeting place, and wanted to create a showroom that felt like a home. As a part of this concept, they invited a selection of complimentary design brands to share their products in the showroom settings, illustrating the design possibilities. You simply can’t have a home without a Kitchen, and we were invited to participate, alongside Rakumba Lighting.
The story of connecting our inside and outside lives is one that Cosh Living have explored through the introduction of their inaugural inhouse brand Kett Furniture, and the launch of their Inside / Outside furniture range. Executing a distinctly Australian design offering, the design studio collaborates with craftspeople from Australia, Italy and Indonesia to produce furniture with a timeless quality and technique. Headed up by Justin Hutchinson as design director, we took the opportunity to work together on the development of EDIT, tailored to feel at home amongst Cosh’s brand family.
Working with Kett has given us at Cantilever a renewed sense that we are experiencing a shift in awareness toward Australia’s design industry strength, capacity and influence. We hope it is a testament to a growing sense of our collective confidence to impact; to acknowledge our unique and valued heritage; place in the world; and influence on its future.
The language of EDIT is drawn from the meeting of curve, and line. Born of a design process reminiscent of a tide, a process tracing possibility and reduction, and repetition, to create refinement. It is inspired by the concept of meeting place, expressed through detail, and form.
A photographic series has informed the texture, colour and form of EDIT, capturing refined materiality in a finely balanced palette array. Inspired by Kett’s own design approach, and influence of the unique character of our Australian landscape, EDIT harnesses natural stone, steel and ceramic bench material, veneer and solid timber touchpoints, waterbased finishes and glass.
EDIT is a kitchen inspired by place, material and craftmanship.
Kett has partnered with Cantilever to manufacture the Frame Living System, and the soon-to-be-released Frame Office & Bedroom. The Frame collections uses a product Evenex, which is environmentally friendly & locally made. Can you tell us more about what it’s like using materials like this?
We have enjoyed our involvement in the evolution of Frame Living System, it is a beauty! I am especially excited to see the release of Frame Office & Bedroom, the materiality and detailing Kett developed is stunning, with the characteristic refinement of functionality. Evenex is a great material to work with, it displays strong consistency of colour and pattern, and requires no additional finishing, which makes it production friendly. Australian made, from pure wood fibre sourced from managed forests, it also has an E0 rating, which means the glues used to create the board have no formaldehyde, unlike other board products. The colourways achieve an exceptionally realistic ‘timber look’ – hence easy to compliment with additional or existing furnishings.
Cantilever celebrates plywood, as seen in the amazing K3 system which highlights the edge layers as a design feature. Can you tell us a little more about the use of ply in your designs and other materials Cantilever loves to work with?
K3 Kitchen System is our third child, born in 2014. The development of the product responded to our growing interest in plywood as a material of conscious-design credibility, through its cross-laid character that enhances the structural integrity of the otherwise soft plantation timber. Prone to bowing, we explored approaches that would stabilise the material. The outcome combined plantation FSC Birch plywood, which provides the best integrity and strength, locally pressed in high-pressure laminate to create the custom board finish that defines the design language of the product. Testament to our ethos of Design for Longevity, it brings together material durability, fabrication integrity and longevity of style; key strategies that improve the sustainability of our products.
K3 Kitchen system refined our use of laminate on ply, expressed by the square cut out handle, finished with lacquer and sanding, by hand. The material expresses a playful nod to mid century modern, the pared-back design of the square cut out handle harnesses crisp clean lines, exposing hints of timber warmth. We have recently released a curated palette group that extends the product from it’s white and timber classic to a series of colours; combined with locally made coloured concrete benchtops by Hatch Concrete. The series is called Forage + Find, testament that it is only those that seek, that find.
A ‘local mindset’ is the productive centre of the Cantilever spirit. Wherever possible we design and make our product using locally sourced material, often designing alternatives to imported products for local manufacture. An example is our exploration into the production of our own Sink and Handles, which are made in Thomastown in collaboration with a local stainless steel fabricator. The product celebrates local manufacturing skillset retention, with each piece made by hand, rather than mould-pressed from thin sheet metal like mass-produced sinks. It regularly surprises people that it is locally made, it seems our culture has forgotten we can make things ourselves.
Sustainability and local production are some of Cantilevers’ core values. As a small business in Brunswick, how do you prioritise these values in a world fuelled by mass production? What are some of the biggest challenges small businesses face while providing sustainable products?
The key influencer in our ability to control our impact, is our choice to be a product based business. This decision enables a strong hold on the appropriateness and source of the materials and finishes we are using, the reduction of waste on an economy scale, and the specification of best-available hardware that we know works. A custom joinery, by comparison, is bound to work with whatever an architect, builder, client or interior designer specify. In our experience, this leads to more wastage, less assurance of design function, and decreasing accountability along the chain. I guess we wanted to create an alternative, for our business, team and clients, prioritising source, reduction of toxicity, and fit-for-purpose design. The challenges we face are communicating the value of our approach in a price-driven industry, where concepts of design for longevity, and investment in quality are marginalised. That said, we are seeing a growing like mindedness emerging amongst the industry, which is catching up to our client base, and very satisfying.
Lastly, Wanda and Shelf are versatile display systems that go beyond the kitchen. Is Cantilever moving to other areas of the home? What can we expect next?
Yes! We have been offering Whole Home Joinery solutions for some time now, which has seen the development of our Product Systems to cater every room of the home. When teamed with our Interiors Service, we are designing whole home renovation projects, enhancing the integrated aesthetic of the Cantilever design language.
1 / 337 Bay Road
Cheltenham VIC 3192
03 9532 0464
Level 6, 600 Church Street
Richmond VIC 3121
03 9281 1999
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Alexandria NSW 2015
02 9317 3011
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Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
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