By Melissa Keogh
From historic Adelaide Hills hotels to trendy metropolitan eateries and regional distilleries, Sam Agostino and Gareth Brown’s timeless furniture pieces can be found in popular places throughout the state.
The furniture and interior designers are behind custom furniture label Agostino & Brown (A+B) and are strong believers in the power of using high quality materials, while employing skilled South Australians to make the goods here in Adelaide.
“Our focus is making furniture in Adelaide where we can supply a national client base,” says Sam Agostino.
“We make everything in South Australia, we also work with other local makers and manufacturers to keep the making business local in SA.”
Aside from Sam and Gareth, A+B employs at its workshop in Wingfield four highly skilled furniture makers who have more than 70 years’ of experience between them in crafting handmade furniture.
The label’s showroom is based in Adelaide’s CBD where Sam and Gareth will meet with clients, usually interior designers after classic yet stylish timber pieces developed in strong consideration of the environment.
A+B’s work can be found in award-winning projects including the redeveloped Crafers Hotel which took out Best Hotel in Australia this year, as well as in the Stretton Centre which won Best Architecture Award in 2016 and at the Stirling Hotel which took the gong for Australia’s Best Restaurant in 2016.
A+B works are also scattered around bars, restaurants and retail spaces including Twenty Third Street Distillery in Renmark, the Adelaide Central Market, Mitolo Winery, Angove Winery, the Feathers Hotel pavilion, and the Morphett Arms Hotel, among others. Other clients include Bendigo Adelaide Bank, Origin Energy, Westpac, Jones Lang LaSalle, RAA, Beerenberg, Monash University, Hub Australia, Qantas, and the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
“Having our furniture in beautiful public spaces designed by the most amazing interior designers and influential business entrepreneurs is most inspiring for us,” they say.
“We feel proud seeing our products being used by the general public and the great thing about using natural materials in our products is they tend to wear in not out, so they get even better with use. We welcome people looking for these same quality customisable furnishings in their own homes.”
Sam and Gareth started their working lives on differing career paths, they hadn’t yet met each other when Sam studied interior architecture at the University of South Australia, and Gareth worked as a chef in Adelaide before heading to Europe to broaden his culinary repertoire.
Gareth ran restaurants in the UK and France for many years before deciding it was time for a change, deciding to study traditional handcrafted furniture making in Bristol.
In 2007 he headed home to Adelaide, taking a spot as an associate in renowned craft studio JamFactory, and deciding SA was home once again.
During her studies, Sam had worked with designer and curator Khai Liew at Augusta Antiques, home to extremely rare and old Japanese, Danish, Australian and French pieces restored by hand.
Once she had graduated university, she worked as an interior designer at Adelaide graphic and interior designer company Enoki, and fast realised the difficulty in sourcing locally-made products.
It was while working for Enoki that she met Gareth, and later the two decided they would work well together and that making furniture from Adelaide was a viable venture.
Their business was registered in 2010 and soon after they began designing their first product, the Fig stool, a classically shaped solid American oak and Australian pine piece that “set the tone for our style”.
“Our furniture style is simple, functional and practical with a clean aesthetic,” Gareth says.
“It is always custom made with the highest quality of finish and construction and an environmentally conscious design process. We simply solve problems in manufacturing and the availability of good furniture. We respect our craft, value craftsmanship and enjoy the process of making objects that will last a lifetime.”
The main material used for their collections of tables, seating, storage cabinets and shelves, mirrors and lighting is solid hardwood oak sourced from ethically managed and sustainable forests in Australia and America. A+B also uses re-claimed timbers such as Oregon and Messmate, as well as quality leather, marble, stone and steel.
Sam and Gareth say design and manufacturing in Adelaide is of high quality and that the city is home to strong support among businesses.
“We feel part of an exciting, innovative and growing community,” Sam says.
“Adelaide is an amazing place to live and provides endless opportunities to work with prominent clients on superior projects.”
Header image: The Stirling Hotel by proprietor Sarah Matthews, featuring A+B’s olive stools and doughwood table.
Industry in focus: Craft industries
Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.
South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.
Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.