BOMBORA IS A SURFING TERM that refers to a wave which suddenly appears in the middle of the ocean and away from the main surf break. It’s also a fitting name for the furniture business that Luke and Alison Collins now run from their workshop in the Victorian coastal town of Torquay. Bombora Custom Furniture evolved almost by accident several years ago after Luke visited a recycled timber yard not far from where the couple lived in Melbourne.
Alison, an osteopath by profession, says that Luke, a former firefighter, “had quite a bit of time off, so went to the timber yard one day and fell in love with all these pieces of timber. He decided to make some furniture out of it and from there he filled our house.”
After selling several pieces through online advertising, Luke began to receive enquiries for custom made furniture. Throughout the next four years, sales from recommendations through word of mouth increased and furniture design became more than just a hobby to fill in time.
“Luke is a very passionate surfer,” Alison says of their decision to move to Torquay to raise a family. The move to the surf coast was a way to balance the growing business with an environmentally conscious business philosophy and a more sustainable work life balance. He moved fulltime into the business in February 2014 after the couple established themselves in the local community by selling furniture at the Torquay summer night market.
They have worked seven days a week for the last two years. “Maybe six days in a good week,” Alison says of their effort to fulfil the orders. And it wasn’t until 18 months ago that they employed craftsmen with complementary skills.
“One of the guys is a concrete artist and he came to help Luke occasionally and he eventually became full time,” Alison says. “At the start of last year we had more work than we could handle so we brought on a classically trained furniture maker and then at the start of this year we brought on a carpenter who is really passionate about furniture.”
Bombora’s team of five staff deliver up to three pieces of furniture each week and recently completed an impressive banquette table for the Lake House in Daylesford. “That took at least two solid weeks with everyone working on them and we worked overtime to get it done.”
Alison and Luke aim to encourage their clients to be conscious consumers. “It’s about taking the time to find something that you love and buying quality and it’s about buying once and buying right with everything within our home and especially with our furniture,” Alison says.
All the timber used in Bombora’s furniture and inbuilt cabinetry is sourced from local recycled timber yards or from suppliers in Geelong and occasionally from Melbourne if a client wants something specific. “But we prefer to keep everything local as much as possible,” Alison says. “We are conscious about the environmental impacts of driving all the time.”
Luke’s design philosophy is inspired by Japanese architecture and joinery which, at the start, influenced the shape and aesthetics of what he was creating. More recently his interest has shifted to the mid century 1960’s silhouette and modernising it by combining metal with timber.
“We want the design to be modern and to fit into a modern home but also have that timelessness so that in 10-20 years it still fits in and people still love it. We want things to be passed onto the next generation rather than just thrown out. That’s what we believe real sustainability is and that’s why we love timber so much because even if it does get scratch or marked it is able to be fixed up and made brand new again with very little effort.
Visit Bombora Custom Furniture at Design Bazaar at booth DB24