We make all our beds (and most of our bedside tables) in our Sheffield workshops, but unfortunately we don’t have the space or capacity to make our designs for chests of drawers and other bedroom furniture too. We tried to find someone in the UK who would make to our specifications but with no luck – then we were introduced to a small family business in Vietnam who specialise in manufacturing solid wood furniture. They work in our two most popular timbers, oak and black walnut and could make to our specifications.
They now produce the Black Lotus collection for us – it is made up of two ranges – the Shaker Collection and the Cube collection. The Shaker collection includes a 2-drawer bedside chest, a 3-drawer chest, 5-drawer tall-boy and wide 6-drawer unit. The Shaker range is a timeless collection, a modern take on traditional Shaker style. The Cube collection is a contemporary storage range of 7 pieces including bed-side units, end-of-bed benches and chests of drawers. Currently both collections are available in solid oak only, but we are about to launch a capsule range in solid walnut very soon (contact us on 0114 272 1984 for further details).
Initially we emailed drawings and had some discussions before I flew over to Vietnam to meet them. Khue, and Ho the owner, were delightful hosts and ran a friendly, well organised factory in the countryside outside HCMC. They have a wonderful factory space; large open side sheds provide protection in the rainy season and cool ventilation through the year – Vietnam is generally somewhere between warm and hot! During my visit most of their 70 staff were involved in finishing operations, many of the people in the photos are glueing or sanding down furniture before the final finish. The attention they show to quality and realising the detail of our designs is very gratifying. Walking around the factory everyone seemed very friendly and relaxed while steadily getting on with their work.
I spent most time with the highly skilled woodworkers who were intrigued by the samples they’d prepared. I realised that I hadn’t quite supplied all the details of a new item they were prototyping, so it was a case of rolling up my sleeves and putting the components into position.
The working day is not that different to ours, 8am-5pm with an hour for lunch in a large canteen. Two big differences between our Sheffield workshop and theirs are that geese wander around outside the canteen and Ho grows orchids and medicinal plants outside his office!
I soon came to realise that a big part of Vietnamese life is humour and enjoyment of life. Ho is now in his mid seventies, very sprightly, very observant, sharp and funny and, like most Vietnamese, looks far younger then his age. We’re delighted to work with Ho and Khue, their work is perfect for our requirements and, linguistic communications and email difficulties apart, I think we have an exciting future with them and I’m looking forward to my next visit.
Take a look at our Black Lotus Bedroom Furniture here.
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