Tait: Made In Australia
We talk local manufacture and no-frills design with Susan Tait, as the popular outdoor furniture house prepares to launch a fresh new collection at DENFAIR 2019.
Can you share Tait’s origin story?
Born and bred in Fitzroy, Tait was started in 1992 by Gordon and myself. At the time, Gordon was a first-class sheet metal worker, and I was a creative textile designer. We noticed there was an absence of really well-made outdoor furniture that could withstand the harsh Australian elements, so in the early 90s we started experimenting and making outdoor products.
Over the years, we’ve slowly refined the business and our offering into the company it is today. We now work exclusively with Australian designers and manufacture here in Australia as well, everything comes out of our factory in Thornbury.
We work with both emerging and more established designers, it’s a bit of a mix. We like to think that our products encourage new ways of thinking about how we live, play and work outdoors.
What local designers have you worked with lately?
More recently, we’ve collaborated with Adam Goodrum – his Trace Sunlounge was launched in 2018 at DENFAIR in Sydney, following his Trace collection that launched at DENFAIR in 2017 and won Best Australian Product at the show. Another project was working with Adam Cornish on the Seam collection, which won best Australian product at DENFAIR in 2018. Previous to that, we also worked with Trent Jansen on the Tidal collection, which is one of our favourites.
How do Tait products respond to the Australian lifestyle?
We definitely try and develop products which reflect Australia’s relaxed way of life, which manifests itself in furniture which is very low or no maintenance. It’s a little bit playful as well – we don’t take ourselves too seriously – and no-frills, which is true to Australian design as a whole. I think one of the reasons why Tait is so renowned and respected is that we initially began by making our products for the Australian outdoors which has some of the most extreme temperatures and UV ratings. Especially with our cities being so close to the coast, we really get a battering from the coastline. So we’ve engineered our products over the last 25 years to really withstand that. And that’s probably one of our greatest strengths.
Has the public become more discerning about what constitutes good design since Tait started out?
With over 25 years in the industry, I’ve certainly witnessed a shift in more recent years which has seen the celebration and maturation of Australian design. Not only locally speaking, but internationally too. I feel we have become considerably less influenced by European design, looking more to our own shores for design which more so reflects our relaxed culture and way of life. Also, the impact of digital platforms is likely to have played a pivotal element in the greater visibility, awareness and embracement of Australian design.
Are now people more intentional about seeking locally-made products?
Yes, we’re seeing that more and more. The local design aspect – the fact that we manufacture here, people are pleasantly surprised about it. We believe a great reason to invest in Tait is knowing that you’re supporting something local that’s made here, that’s taken less resources than shipping it halfway across the globe.
What can we expect to see from Tait at DENFAIR in 2019?
We’re very excited to be revealing our latest collection which will see Tait enter a relatively new direction. Designed in collaboration with a prominent Australian designer, the collection seeks to address a number of key problems facing us in modern times. We can’t wait to share what we have in store! It’s a big one.