Melbourne designer Katrina Ramm dabbled in everything from glasswork to interior design before going back to university to study furniture design a few years ago.
‘I had all these furniture ideas that I didn’t know how to physically bring to life, as other than a bit of sanding and re-finishing of vintage furniture finds, I hadn’t done any wood working or furniture making before,’ Katrina says.
Now, after a ‘couple years of prototyping, testing and preparation’ (on her days off from her job as the studio manager for local furniture company, Plyroom) Katrina has launched Ka Ra Studio – making ‘flexible furniture’ with smaller spaces in mind. And she’s hoping her playful pieces can carve out a very purposeful place in the market!
‘Although there is already a lot of really beautiful furniture in existence, and I wrestle with the question of whether we should be producing more things — I do think there is room to push convention and create pieces that are better suited to a modern way of living,’ Katrina explains.
‘And with our spaces becoming smaller, I’m inspired to create products that make the most of the precious space in our small homes and apartments.’
While she even crafted her initial prototypes from her own small apartment in Collingwood, Katrina now works from the garage studio in her Northcote rental.
Ka Ra Studio’s first range of timber pieces include a particularly clever set of dining chairs that can be tucked away perfectly into the matching Penny Table when not in use, while the table itself also holds a gap for storage beneath the surface. There’s also a slim side table inspired by the ‘chubby’ silhouettes of neotenic design, and the Buddy storage unit, that hides a literal smile in the handles of the doors!
Katrina describes her designs as ‘feel good’ pieces, but sustainability is another key focus of her business. All the pieces are made to order in Melbourne, using only responsibly sourced timbers from local farm and plantations — rather than anything that might have come from over logged forests.
The larger furniture pieces are made by a talented local woodworker, Vivienne Wong, who produces them in small batches in her Thomastown workshop, and Katrina makes any small objects herself in the studio, alongside her poodle sidekick, Peggy-Sue.
‘I’m loving having a studio space to work from at home, as I can easily play around with concepts whenever I have an idea, no matter what time of day,’ she adds. ‘I’ve been known to be in the studio crafting things (quietly) late at night in my pjs!’