There are many advantages to buying locally. It puts money in the pockets of locals and is a more sustainable practice. You’ll probably score on the quality front too as you’re usually purchasing an item created with passion and dedication.
We’re lucky to have an increasing number of opportunities to buy local fresh produce or purchase a piece by a local artist or artisan. One of the nicest parts of this transaction is meeting the person behind the products, hearing their story and absorbing some of their enthusiasm for their creations.
It doesn’t have to be any different when it comes to larger purchases for your home, with incredibly talented artisans, like Rob Loughlin, creating beautiful, timeless furniture right here on the Coast.
Rob Loughlin tinkered with a few professions after finishing school but in cabinetmaking he found his true passion. He served his apprenticeship and quickly rose to be head cabinetmaker, charged with passing his skills on to new apprentices.
Rob was lucky to work for a quality furniture maker and thoroughly learn traditional skills and techniques, but the designs weren’t his own, and Rob was developing a very strong personal aesthetic for furniture design.
After ten years in the industry, working on his own designs over the weekend and at nights, Rob took the leap and started his own custom furniture company, Loughlin Furniture Designs.
Rob uses premium hardwoods, most frequently blackbutt, spotted gum and American oak. Spotted gum, Rob’s favourite, is a striking timber that gives a lovely rusticity to pieces. It combines particularly well with industrial design features. Blackbutt (used in this table) is a native timber with a beautiful of colours, including a lovely pinkish tone. American oak is a stylish timber with a straight grain. It’s perfect for capturing that elegant, minimalist, mid-century look.
Loughlin Furniture Designs soon gained a reputation for their quality custom-made pieces and commercial fit-outs – if you’ve ever found yourself admiring the café table as you enjoy your espresso, chances are it’s a Loughlin piece. Their notable fit-outs have included The Entrance Lake House, The Ark café and Thaigar Temple locally, and The Baker’s Wife café in Springwood. More businesses have also commissioned bespoke furnishings for their space including Killcare Surf Club café and Lapstone Hotel in Blaxland.
At the core of this popularity is Rob’s skills as a craftsman and the materials he uses, including A-grade, hardwood timber, quality runners and hardware and metal components. Along with
the Loughlin aesthetic.
Rob designs all the pieces he makes and has developed a style that is simultaneously on point and timeless. His furniture brings to mind some of the classics – those from mid-century Danish designers and also the enduring designs of Shaker furniture.
It’s no surprise that Danish design was heavily influenced by Shaker design and its underlying principles of thoughtful design with functional form and proportion. In both styles there is an emphasis on quality craftsmanship and elegant, functional structure.
Both Danish design and Shaker furniture have remained popular and inform trends to this day.
Rob shares the aesthetic of these past practitioners, as well as their dedication to method and material, but he also keeps a sharp eye on current design trends and cleverly incorporates them into his signature pieces.
Loughlin Furniture Design offers a custom design service but also has floor stock available for immediate purchase. Pieces include dining suites, beds, shelving and their very popular bathroom vanity units. Stylish, oversize doors have also been a popular choice with clients.
The increase in business eventually meant that proper premises had to be found. At this point Rob’s wife Jess started taking a more active role in the company. As is often the case, Jess had been an invisible, but invaluable, presence in the background, helping to tap into consumer demand and current design preferences. With the business now growing Jess came in to help part-time with the running of the showroom.
The couple were looking for premises that could accommodate a generous showroom with a good sized factory space out the back. In April of last year they found it on Manns Road, West Gosford. They really only considered facilities, not location, so the find was fortuitous as their premises are right in the midst of the West Gosford home renovation and building strip.
The increased visibility has been a boon, with customers spotting the showroom on their way to purchase other products for their homes. The growth due to this exposure has meant that this locally owned business has had to add a couple of employees, and Rob is once again passing on his considerable skills to another generation of cabinetmakers.
With the new showroom, the Loughlins are now looking to establish a core range that will be on show and can be delivered quickly. At the moment floor stock can be purchased and taken immediately but with much of it being one-off custom pieces, it’s a case of first in, best dressed. A core range would mean that pieces on show are always readily available, with the added bonus that they can be customised if needed, with a change of timber or dimensions perhaps, to suit a customer’s requirements.
This is a task that Rob is relishing – not only designing one-off pieces, but coming up with a cohesive range of furnishings. There will be no sacrifice in quality or workmanship, but it will better cater to customers who want browse initially before making a decision.
It will also mean a reliable supply chain for those products, like some of the dining chair designs, that Loughlin source from elsewhere to combine with their timber pieces.
It’s certainly an exciting time for this local business and their stylish West Gosford showroom. If you’re looking for upmarket yet affordable designer furniture, made with skill, precision and passion, you should definitely put Loughlins Furniture Design on your list. Let Rob and Jess talk you through the pieces and explain the raw materials, make your choice … and suddenly you have an exquisite piece with a story of its own.
ph: 02 4322 2186 or
Unit 1, 305 Manns Rd, West Gosford
Open: The showroom is open Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 4pm.