Dec 15, 2017 | By Carlene Thomas Bailey
Jun 13, 2016
If you’re tired of your current wardrobe, your shoes are stacked in a precarious pile or you’ve got a collection of draws that have clothes spilling out of them; it’s time to upgrade the way you manage, store and display your clothes. But before you make yet another trip to Ikea, may we suggest a new design idea, custom made in the UK by a father and daughter duo.
Based in Norfolk, Mario and daughter Carly, saw the charm in industrial pipes (no, really) and they’ve since created a grassroots design business transforming these pipes into must-have wardrobe designs.
We caught up with Carly to find out more:
When did your dad come up with the idea to use industrial pipes for furniture?
It’s a funny story really, I actually came up with the idea and my dad completely ran with it, that’s what I think makes us such a great team. It all came about when I was living in a warehouse in North London, the exposed ceilings with all of the wire runners, flickering incandescent strip lighting and the industrial air conditioning units and ducts really inspired me to design my own furniture that would be in keeping with my surroundings. When I told my dad about my ideas and showed him my designs he got cracking on coming up with a way to make it all possible. At first he thought this was another one of my crazy ideas, I seem to have a few of them each week, but he persevered with it and now we work together to bounce ideas off one another. I tend to come up with the concept and he finds a way of making it work. Since then we’ve created furniture for modern homes too, the contrast of the raw metal and wood works really well against the sleek modern backdrop.
What makes it so great to work with your father?
He is a very practical thinker, he’s the kind of man that will completely pull apart a lovely watch just to see if he can work out how to put it back together. As a child I always loved tagging along with him to reclamation yards and helping him find five broken things that he’d then turn into something new.
When did you both realise your industrial pipes idea could be a business?
It all kind of snowballed really. When we started out it was only meant to be a one off for my room but soon after we built it other people in the warehouse community started commenting and asking if they could have something similar. The next thing we knew friends of friends started getting in touch with me on Facebook to ask about them so we created a Facebook page. The Facebook page gradually gave way to an Etsy Shop and now we have our own website and need to manage it full time. As well as home interiors, we’ve done a lot of bespoke solutions for commercial spaces like boutique shops, pop-ups, galleries and office spaces.
You left your fashion job to join your dad full time- what do you/ and your fashion background bring to the business?
As the business gradually grew, my farther and I realised that I needed to be more hands on than just helping out in my spare time.
‘Coming from a fashion buying background has helped me profusely as it’s taught me to predict trends and find new styles before they hit the mainstream, something that’s so important if you want to stay ahead of the game.’
Not only do I need to know what styles are going to go crazy, I’ve also learnt how to spot a flash-in-the-pan fad from a mile off. At Off The Rails Designs I’m the main style coordinator and drive all the social media activity as well as getting my hands dirty in the making of each piece, something I’ve always longed to do.
How did you feel about your home being the prototype for these products?
I’ve always been interested in interiors, my mother’s such a great home maker, her house always looks lovely and that’s something I really admired. Since my partner and I bought our first home two years ago my interest in interiors and architecture completely exploded. I’ve loved using my home as a prototype for each product, I want to make sure we’ve designed something that not only looks fantastic but also really works and is durable. What better way to do that than try it out yourself, right? My house is filled with built in wardrobes, benches, tables, desks and shelves, all made out of scaffolding. It’s actually a lot more versatile than you’d think, I’ve got loads of different coloured woods and piping everywhere.
The industrial clothing rails are very popular- what’s the secret? Do you think people are looking for something different from say a standard Ikea closet?
I think you hit the nail on the head there, everyone has owned an AUSTMARKA wardrobe with the corrugated plastic panels on the front at some point in their lives. Our designs are for people looking to break the mould, each of our wardrobes are handmade and completely bespoke, we can literally make them to any size or colour the customer wants. We get the pipes sprayed with car paint in our local garage. The mechanic thought we were crazy at first but he’s got so used to doing it now he just asks what colour we want. Also, the industrial style clothing rails are a great way to keep your wardrobe simple and it oozes the chic scandi-style that’s really hot right now.
You and your dad obviously put a lot of time and effort in the finished product- what do you hope the consumer takes away- something Instagram worthy? Something well made, but more interesting than the norm?
Firstly we want to make sure people are taking away a durable, personalisable product that they’re happy with – the fact they make for great Instagram pictures is a bonus. I think the theme of personalisation is one that runs deep with the rails especially. Not only can people choose the size, colour combinations and type of wood, the rails are then further personalised when people hang their clothes on them. Why shut away beautiful clothes that you use to represent yourself every day just because you’re not using them? The clothes rails are not only stylish, they’re great space savers, flat packing down super easily which is great for people who rent or move around a lot. Plus they can hold more clothes than you could possibly fit in a wardrobe!
The industrial rails are very versatile, they seem perfect for store interior design and as well as homes.
Yes, in fact our rails have proven popular with hotels, designers, art galleries and shops. We’ve worked with designer Agnes’ B on a pop up shop for Fenwick’s on Bond Street, collaborated with ME Hotel for press events, showcased our new furniture piece, ‘THE CUBE’, at Clerkenwell Design Week and were commissioned by the Tower of London to make some benches!We’re really excited for AW16 as we’re going to be launching our new collection ‘THE CUBE’, an all in one storage solution for small and big spaces alike.
Like this? Keep an eye on Off The Rails Design’s Instagram feed.
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