As a kid, I was obsessed with trains and bridges. I was in awe of their scale, complexity of engineering and their power. I can’t pretend that this has changed, and I often use the kids an an excuse to indulge an afternoon of playing with electric train set or building an epic track with ambitious bridges and all. My interest in the technical and aesthetic aspect of trains and bridges has led me to incorporate metal into my dining table designs. But before I get into that, here’s a bit about how I got into furniture making...
I worked for many years as an Aviation Firefighter. It became apparent over time that it was not at all a job suited to me. I am someone who needs to be independent, active, creative, and someone who lives for the sense of achievement that you get from working on something with my hands from start to finish. My first interest in furniture making was sparked when I found some discarded pieces of timber on the nature strip in Moonee Ponds close to where Alison and I were living at the time. It was full of rusty nails but when clean up it had some pretty amazing tones and feature. Capturing my imagination and I started creating pieces of furniture, giving a new life to this reclaimed material. Over many years this time filling play turned into a full time business for myself, my wife, Alison, our talented furniture makers and my extended family.
In our custom furniture business, every so often someone would come along and ask me to go to town with designing a totally new piece for them. Given the opportunity, metal was my goto, essential element to these designs. After meeting, Torquay local Adam, owner of a Melbourne based family run metal fabrication business, I began to explore the possibilities that custom metal fabrication has to offer. I would sketch something up on Google Sketchup and Adam would come back with some suggestions to make the design functional and sometimes even more adventurous!
Zeele came about as these new pieces I felt compelled to design were very different to the style of Bombora furniture. By creating a sister company, I was able to flesh out my designs with free creative range without the fear of undermining the Bombora brand. Of course a brand does not come together from just one person’s vision, it is through the collaboration of many. With my new designs using black powder coated metal and timber, Alison’s refined taste of luxe industrial style furniture and Elina’s savvy business and creative skills along with the Bombora workshop ready to hit the ground running, we started to build a new company.
Photo credit: GT Magazine
For me, my family is the central driving force for everything I do. When it came naming our newly created sister brand, after much deliberation I came up with the idea of using the first letter of my family and 3rd partner Elina’s names to create a word that was significant to all of us. Z for Zeke, E for Emma, A for Alison, L for Luke and E for Elina. These letters combined spell ‘Zeale’ which conveniently means, “a passionate man”. We decided that a double E would visually look nicer graphically, leading us the word ‘ZEELE’.
New design ideas keep flowing, I am so excited that we have created this awesome platform where I get to dream up innovative designs and then make them! I very much look forward to sharing it with you all.