CRAZY QUILT By Tanya Lara (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 25, 2017 - 12:00am
The French furniture brand may have started as a maker for children’s furniture in the baby-boom era of the 1960s, but today it fills up every room in the house with its signature stylish French living pieces.
Gautier in Manila turns a year old this month at Shangri-La at The Fort under the umbrella of the Blims Lifestyle Group. Gautier Philippines general manager Katrina Samantha Lim, the youngest and only daughter of Blims founders Samie and Carrie Lim, says, “My dad got to know Gautier and the owners in a London franchise show. The following year, he brought me along with my brothers and we met the Gautier family. We realized there was a lot of potential to bring the brand here, also because we felt we had a lot in common, with both companies being family businesses.”
Ironically, during the Baby Boom era, “when people were having a lot of children, there wasn’t a lot of furniture for children that allowed them to express themselves because everything was made for adults.”
Founded by Patrice Gautier, the first bed the company made was shaped like a racecar and was an immediate hit among parents hunting for children’s pieces. Another design from the ‘60s — a nautical-theme bed — is now in its eighth generation.
Today, such beds come with side tables equipped with Bluetooth speakers.
Katrina walks us through the showroom to talk about the new collections. There are the Addict occasional tables; Graphic kids’ bedroom; Setis tables; and Symphonie adult bedroom.
Addict is a decorative collection that deconstructs monotonous ambiances by mixing up or layering furniture. Details include black stained ash legs and inserts that combine a premium material with a contemporary look. The way the tabletops are mounted on the legs demonstrates the expertise of contemporary woodworking that goes into each piece.
Graphic Children’s Bedroom plays with volumes and the structured/deconstructed effect. It has all the features of an adult’s bedroom with a contemporary and trendy feel. Its natural oak finish gives it a light and airy design with a nod to Scandinavian styling.
The Graphic collection bed comes with a choice of headboard in trendy fabric or natural wood. Like a big cushion, the fabric headboard creates a bold and trendy statement for the ultimate in cozy comfort.
Setis is a contemporary collection of dining tables, island units and extending console tables that combine a modern look with practicality. The pieces are designed to work perfectly in modern living spaces.
Symphonie is a light and airy bedroom with an emphasis on vertical lines. Inspired by contemporary architecture, the Symphonie adult bedroom range has a slim and elegant bed surround that creates a light and airy feel.
“Gautier has 50 stores globally and 50 in France, so the design aesthetic is universal and homey,” says Katrina. “They have three manufacturing sites in France and co-own the forest where they get the material, which is sustainable French pine that they process into boards.”
Wood, glass and aluminum are combined to bring to life the spirit of the brand that’s rooted in stylish French living.
“The pieces are multi-functional and modular, which are perfect for condo and townhouse owners. But since they come in modules, you can also build them as wide as you want.”
After a year of overseeing the Philippine showroom and operations, Katrina has noticed that some pieces designed for children and teens also appeal to adults.
One of them is a bedroom dresser that looks very feminine and almost like a dollhouse, but in human scale. “Women in their twenties and thirties love this dresser and order it for themselves.”
Katrina’s entry into the family business was natural since she used to hang out with her mom Carrie when she went to the Blims office and showrooms. “I just grew up with it. I liked the idea of helping people choose their furniture and doing consultations is the thing I enjoy the most.”
Before she took the reins of Gautier and became merchandising manager for Blims, Katrina studied business in Vancouver and worked as a research analyst for a mergers and acquisitions firm that handled a number of publicly traded companies in Canada.
And then she went back to school to study interior design. While studying, she was also training herself — in Ikea. She worked as a cashier and while the job may have been less than a year, she learned a lot in the giant home store that would eventually help her when she started work at Blims as merchandising manager after she came home in 2013.
“I learned to spot consumer trends and what people want. Blims is middle market and I learned that customer service really matters. I worked at the checkout of Ikea so I was able to interact with people, ako na yung parang customer service because there are no sales people on the floor. I learned how they display their products — that when you first walk in, it’s all vignettes, so you see the first five new products and when you go in all the product information you need is displayed in the labels or catalogue.”
“I’m seeing a lot more natural wood finishes from our European suppliers,” she says. “Practicality and multi-functionality of furniture is also a trend. Space is becoming a luxury these days. You have to be smart about the pieces that you buy.”
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Gautier is located at Shangri-La at the Fort in BGC.
Check out the author’s travel blog at www.findingmyway.net. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @iamtanyalara.
More Gautier photos at http://www.philstar.com/modern-living/2017/03/25/1684256/trendy-natural-pieces-gautiers-new-collections
This article is a re-post from the Philippines Star
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Date: March 28, 2017