One can easily surmise that no one makes furniture quite like how Australian furniture icons King Living does!
Yes, outside of its well-known, indestructible steel frame and configurable designs that set every King Living piece apart from the competition, there’s also been a push for more technological content as well over the years. Apart from that, the brand is also particularly known for its sofas; with a design philosophy focusing on longevity as each comes with a previously unheard of 25-year warranty!
Known in the market as the ‘Masters of Modularity’, King Living is also constantly innovating to meet the evolving needs of contemporary living, enabling its customers to furnish homes with the ultimate flexibility. And to stay ahead in this game, perhaps you just have to be in the think of the action? And for King Living co-founder David King, this hotspot just happens to be right here in Southeast Asia!
“I’ve been living in Singapore for over five years now. I never thought I’d leave home in Sydney but going to another place is a great experience as well, and opens up more to your mind. You find out how people live in your new city, what they like… it’s great for someone like me especially,” reveals King during a quick stopover in Kuala Lumpur to launch the brand’s Malaysian flagship showroom in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur recently.
“We’re really proud of this showroom,” he goes on. “We’ve been at Ikano Power Centre for two years already before this and KL is a very successful marketplace for us,” he says. “It’s given us the confidence to open this bigger store in an upmarket part of the city, and we have made it a point to set up our stores in such premium locations everywhere. It’s good to be based in these hi-end neighbourhoods and learn about what the people here want for their homes.”
King says he vividly remembers how his own grandmother would sit upright on her sofa. “She would never let us lean on the back or sit on the arms. Then, finally in the 1970s, the realisation sort of hit that furniture was for entertaining and, actually, living. Something you’ll hear from me a lot is this: You spend the best hours of your life on your sofa. Everyone works really hard and when you get home, that is your time to relax. So, everything we sell is meant to enhance that relaxation experience.”
That’s why pretty much every item in the King Living catalogue is designed with the demands of modern life in mind. And this is most evident than in the line of add-ons for its legendary sofas, reveals King. “For instance, our so called Smart Pockets can be placed on the arms or backs of any one of our sofas, providing handy places to tuck away a tablet, magazines or remote controls. Reading lights and tables can swivel in and out of place from the sofa itself.”
“There’s also our Cloud range of lounge sofas with integrated TouchGlide control technology, allowing you to adjust the position of each sofa seat to your liking just by using gesture controls,” continues King. “You see, we are integrating more and more technology into our furniture as we go along, but all this innovation isn’t just built into specific pieces of furniture, most are actually add-ons that are backwards-compatible to earlier King Living pieces so not much in our back catalogue becomes obsolete or outmoded. Think of all this as buying new personal accessories to update one’s look!”
“Gwen, my mother, was an interior designer and in 1977, she came up with an idea for modular furniture,” remembers King fondly. “Back then, modular furniture was starting to be a big thing and for us, it was all one big happy accident! We started out just wanting to make some casual furniture for our own home. I was dabbling in this electronics business after I left school at the time. So, I helped her cut out these foam pieces in various, comfortable shapes, and she sewed covers for them using our home sewing machine. The knitted stretch fabric that she used – when we put over these foam shapes – made the resulting pieces look moulded and very cool.”
King recalls that there was this place on Hay Street in Sydney’s Central Business District called Paddy’s Market. “This was where people would take things to sell, so we brought some of our new pieces there. And as were unloading our car, other people who had stalls there saw our stuff and we sold quite a few pieces right away to them!”
Today, King Living’s design studio in Australia is staffed by industrial designers, supported by engineers and artisan tailors, who create truly innovative furniture pieces. Even so, all that creativity is still pretty much centred on David and Gwen’s basic philosophy of creating pieces that are designed for style, engineered for comfort and built to last. “But these insights come not from an exceptionally profit-driven founder at the helm! I’d like to tell people that King Living is a family-run business that owes its success to honest hard work, good instincts, not thinking like traditional furniture companies and listening closely to what people actually want,” sums up King with a wry smile.
Just recently at the end of June, 2019, King Living’s broke into the all important North American market with its first showroom in Vancouver, Canada. A visible exited King gushes: “They’re on the opposite side of the globe, yes… but Australians and Canadians have much in common. For example, they enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and now, they have access to the finest in Australian-designed contemporary furniture too! The new store is in South Granville, an inner suburb known for beautiful houses, great restaurants and premium retail – just like what Bangsar is… And remember what I said earlier about high-end neighbourhoods, and learning from the people there?”