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Building the perfect bar stool

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We all have our passions; the things on which we while away endless hours.

Over the past few years, the objects of Max Hunt’s affections have been vintage wooden-seated stools with metal legs. He often used to stop to pick up pieces of the furniture from hard-rubbish piles on the side of the road until he amassed a sizeable collection at his home.

While seeking out the perfect bar stool, Hunt began to experiment with making them himself and eventually developed a successful local furniture design business.

He spoke to InDaily about his burgeoning business, and why his products are becoming so sought-after by South Australian cafés and restaurants.

What is your design background?

I studied industrial design at UniSA and have recently made the transition from full-time design/drafter to furniture designer.

Why are you so interested in stools?

Furniture has been of interest for as long as I can remember. Going to antique dealers with my dad and trying to find secret compartments in all the old desks – I love it!

I think its the scale of furniture that I love; its human size.  It can have large details and micro details. Beauty with a function.

When it comes to stools, I don’t know why I like them.  They do so much with so little.

Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Photo: Will Matthews

What materials do you use and what is process for creating your products? 

I use (tools from) all local businesses, ranging from hand wood turners and electroplaters to computer-aided metal benders. The wealth of experience in Adelaide is amazing. I find so many quality trades here in SA all looking for work. Many of them grew around automotive and with that work drying up, it is the small jobs that keep doors open.

Why do you think the Hunt Furniture stool has proven such a hit with Adelaide’s interior design community?

Well I found out quickly that there was a demand for locally made, reasonably priced furniture that wasn’t being addressed. I think a lot of my commercial success has to do with that.

In Australia, we have problem with furniture copies. For some reason, companies get away with importing replicas of famous designs and it seems business have no shame in purchasing these knock-offs.

I tried to fit Hunt Furniture in a price range that could directly compete with a knock-off. This doesn’t mean that I am as cheap as an import, but a business doesn’t need to stretch the budget too far to own locally made furniture.

Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Photo: Will Matthews

What has been your favourite use of Hunt Furniture’s designs in an interior?

One of the jobs I did early on for Mitolo Wines in McLaren Vale. Any time my products are paired up with the work of Agostino and Brown, the results are always beautiful.

Where do you see your business going from here?

It is difficult to say exactly, but my plan is to keep growing organically, to dedicate much more time to the business and hopefully one day turn it into a South Australian design icon. A boy’s gotta dream.

stools 4

Photo: Will Matthews

What other products might you branch out into?

I have been focusing on a number of new products including tables, storage and, of course, more stools. I guess you’ll have to wait and see.

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