A Brisbane-based design studio has landed a global coup with Internet search-engine giant Google Inc., which is buying more than 200 of the studio's rotational molded, low density polyethylene stools.
Objx Pty. Ltd., known as Luxxbox, has achieved global interest in its compact, circular, LDPE stools that, with the addition of a removable polypropylene or compact laminate circular top, convert to tables. The Tingle-brand range is sufficiently flexible to be also used for storage.
Luxxbox always planned to expand into the U.S. and Europe but, since forming a relationship with Google, the plans have progressed quickly. Manufacturers in the U.S. and Belgium are scheduled to start producing Tingle by the end of the year.
The Tingle range, along with Luxxbox's other standardized products, currently are made only in Australia.
Industrial designer Jason Bird founded Luxxbox in 2006 so he could design and manufacture his own collection of commercial and domestic furniture and lighting products.
Bird said Luxxbox contacted Google, proposing his furniture designs be used at Google's two-day I/O (input/output) developer conference in May. Google wanted small, stackable furniture to strengthen its brand presence at external events.
Bird first suggested another of Luxxbox's LDPE products — sets of circular fitted benches — but Google was more interested in the Tingle because of its compact size.
“The events people got on board and loved it,” Bird said.
Initially Google ordered 30 Tingle products, custom-made in Google's distinct colors. After receiving the first batch, Google ordered another 120. Since then, Google has placed more orders.
Bird met Google representatives at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters to discuss further opportunities.
“Google loved our design work and has asked Luxxbox to help increase its branding presence at more events,” he said.
The design studio has now gone beyond seating to design the entire look for another three Google events.
“As Google learns more about what we do, I think they will continue to look at us to add distinct colors and designs to reinforce their brand image,” Bird said, adding that Luxxbox is negotiating to supply furniture for Google's headquarters as well.
Luxxbox established a sales branch in Redwood City, Calif., this year to sell the Tingle range to Google and other large clients.
“We are getting many requests from the U.S., but can't quite service those inquiries just yet,” Bird said. Manufacturing will start in the U.S. within six months to meet the demand.
A Belgian manufacturer has been sourced to serve the European market.
“I have the mold sitting in my office, ready to send to the manufacturer,” Bird said.
It is more cost effective, he noted, to manufacture close to customers because of freight costs from Australia.
“Currently, we need to factor the cost of freight into the prices. Smaller clients who want to buy only three pieces of furniture can't justify paying freight.”
Bird investigated manufacturing in China, but found it was just as cost-effective to produce standard products in Australia.
“Because rotomolded products have low labor costs, we would not save any money by manufacturing them in China,” he said.
But Luxxbox uses a Chinese manufacturer produce its custom-designed products that require more manual input.
Once the Tingle range's production is established overseas, Bird wants to start manufacturing and marketing other product lines outside Australia.