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Furniture makes it to big screen

By: Kate Tilley

January 2, 2013

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (Jan. 2, 5 p.m. ET) — Brisbane-based design studio Objx Pty. Ltd. has started manufacturing in California and Belgium to meet growing international demand since Internet search-engine giant Google Inc. started buying its low density polyethylene stools in 2011.

Industrial designer Jason Bird founded Objx, known as Luxxbox, in 2006 to design and manufacture his commercial and domestic furniture and lighting products.

Six years later, Luxxbox has sold more than 300 rotational molded LDPE stools to Google, and supplied custom-designed tables for Ridley Scott’s 2012 science-fiction movie Prometheus.

Bird said the movie’s set designer approached him in January 2011, showing particular interest in Luxxbox’s Brainwash range. The line’s stools, tables and benches each are manufactured from a single piece of zinc-primed, polyester powder-coated, formed steel. The furniture has LDPE feet.

Luxxbox custom designed Brainwash tables to suit the movie’s futuristic design. The tables appeared in the crew dining hall, onboard the spaceship Pro­metheus.

“Initially we planned to manufacture in Australia, however, with their short lead time, we ended up using some contacts [and manufacturing] in London.” The film was shot at Pinewood Studios, a major British film studio about 20 miles west of central London.

Prometheus was released June 1 in the United Kingdom and June 8 in North America.

As previously reported in Plastics News, Luxxbox landed a global coup in 2011, with Google buying more stools from the studio’s Tingle range. The line consists of compact, circular, LDPE stools that, with the addition of a removable polypropylene or compact laminate circular top, convert to tables.

The products are used at Google’s annual two-day I/O (input/output) developer conference and other Google exhibitions.

Bird said Luxxbox’s relationship with Google grew during 2012. The search engine has bought Luxxbox’s LDPE “milk stool,” a modern take on a traditional milk crate. He said Google liked how the stools stack easily. Luxxbox is currently designing custom-made seating for Google’s New York office, its second-largest site. Part of the product will be rotational molded.

Luxxbox always aimed to expand into the U.S. and Europe, Bird said, but since forming a relationship with Google, the plans have progressed quickly.

Three Luxxbox product ranges — Tingle, Milk and Harlie — are manufactured in California. Harlie is an LDPE prism-inspired stool. The three ranges are sold across the U.S. through retail outlets, including AllModern, a division of Boston-based Wayfair LLC.; and Brooklyn-based Module R.

Luxxbox established its own sales branch in Redwood City, Calif., last year.

Bird said it is challenging to grow in the U.S. because it is such a large market. Luxxbox has a long-term growth approach, he said, because he does not have the resources or time to pursue rapid growth. “We have so far relied on organic growth.”

Luxxbox also manufactures its Tingle range in Belgium. Belgian design studio Sixinch has licensed the range and sells Tingle across its global sales network.

Despite its increasing global reach, Bird said most of Luxxbox’s products are manufactured in Queensland, Australia. Bird investigated manufacturing in China, but said it was just as cost-effective to produce standard products in Australia. Luxxbox only manufactures small items in China, like lighting products.

About half of Luxxbox’s furniture incorporates plastic. Bird said he tried to create new ways of processing in his designs.

“The marketplace has been very receptive to the approach,” Bird said.