ARTICLE Nicole James PHOTOGRAPHY Scott Espie
Minimalistic quality at a realistic price - that describes Mike and Nikolai's trestle tables and legs produced in their beautiful and serene space at Trestle Union. Inspired by their overseas Mexican travels, being able to view spacious trestle market stall tables, they put their design talent together and came up with their own version.
How did you come up with the idea to build trestle tables and start up Trestle Union?
We saw a real need in the market for low cost furniture with a high design aesthetic. After friends kept asking us to make the odd trestle table and Nikolai's trip to Mexico where he saw local marketers traveling each day with simple, easy to transport tables for their stalls, we knew we were onto something good with trestle tables. Their simplicity, portability and strength made them the perfect product to manufacture at a low cost without compromising in style.
What materials are used to create these trestle tables?
We use marine plywood for the trestles and tops. The strength of the plywood means we can obtain a visually light yet extremely strong table. The tops are laminated with a tough high-pressure laminate (HPL). The durability of HPL means our tops are tough and can handle the odd coffee spill without swelling like MDF or cheaper materials do.
What was your vision for the space you work in?
When we started thinking about the space we were after, it really needed to reflect the brand values and aesthetic, but also be accessible for others to see what we do.
So far we've nailed the values and aesthetic but the accessibility needs some work. We're still pretty small but we're working on it!
How would you describe your workspace and what inspired the layout?
We've recently moved to a barn in Muriwai which is very low tech compared to the workshop at AUT where we made the first batch of trestles.
In a way it's a retrospective blast from the past with some relics of New Zealand made machinery that remind us that as a country we used to produce some great products/machinery that are thankfully still running today to help us design and make better products.
The layout kind of happened organically, as new places arrived, space was cleared to accommodate. From there it was about organising the space in order to streamline the manufacturing process, as well as making the most of our bench space, light and ventilation.
What did you have to do to transform it? Was there anything you had to take into consideration to tailor it to your work?
The workshop's previous life was typical of any farm building you will see in NZ, a collection of stuff accumulated over the years that may one day come in handy on the farm.
So first things first there needed to be a clean out, after that power needed to be hooked up and that was pretty much it.
The trestle manufacturing process is pretty straight forward once you have the right gear.
Is there anything you would want to change?
One day we would most likely move into a bigger space that would be more accessible to people, open our doors to the the public so they can see what we get up to. Apart from the addition of new pieces of machinery here and there, for now the barn is fulfilling everything we need at the moment. It'd be great to have all of the above available for others to see.
What aspects do you like the most?
For me (Nik) it is the setting, we pride ourselves in being 100% NZ made, and it doesn't get much more Kiwi than a barn in a paddock next to some native bush on the west coast of the North Island, it's a pretty inspiring place.
I (Mike) really like where it is set, I guess it's a favourite aspect but also an annoying aspect as it's so out of the way and hard for people to see what we do.
What do you enjoy about working in such a serene spot?
The farm, the bush, the building, the piece and quiet, five minutes from the beach and still only 30 minutes from the city. All of these things make for it to be such an inspiring place to work from.
Do you have any new design projects coming up in the future?
We are working on a new range at the moment that we hope to release mid-year, there are so many ideas and so little time!
Which is the most popular table?
Our longer, 1,800mm table seems to be the most popular and when we first started it was the only length you could get. We think the proportions work the best at that size. However, living spaces don't always allow for perfect proportions so we've added a couple of smaller sizes too.
What would your top tip be for renovating a space?
I think renovating is a lot like designing furniture; you should be as creative as you want to be and don't hold back on your vision, if it doesn't pan out how you imagined you could always change it.
For more information on trestle tables, visit the Trestle Union website.
All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.