KE-ZU is simply dedicated to creating better environments to live, work, and relax in.
We are committed to innovation and sustainability through the conscious choices we make on behalf of future generations.
We're different because you're different
When you allow yourself not to be the same as everyone else, you are giving yourself permission to explore new things and move out of your comfort zone. It enables you to turn dreams into reality whilst discovering endless possibilities.
one must always be different.”
- Coco Chanel
and different is good!
KE-ZU, The Story
Mark Swanton founded KE-ZU in 1992, with a company mission of wanting to be different from other furniture companies focussing on the commercial market. Not only in the furniture and lighting collections but also in the way that contract furniture was represented and sold in Australia. Our catchphrase of the time was “We’re furniture guys. We don’t wear suits and ties to work. We’re simply dedicated to creating better environments to live, work, and relax in.”
Prior to founding KE-ZU, Mark worked through the 1980s with Artes Studio [the predecessor of SPACE] and Herman Miller.
Good fortune for KE-ZU continued when in 1996, after a 10-year career in financial markets, Caron Grunschlag partnered with Mark in KE-ZU.
So how could KE-ZU be different?
Firstly, it was by starting a new business in the global recession of the early 1990s. Then by focusing on branded furniture manufacturers with authentic designs from internationally established designers and manufactured to the highest quality. Each manufacturer chosen for representation in Australia had the experience of contemporary craftsmanship derived from years of innovation that would set them apart from the competition and would ensure that they would continue to deliver on the same in the years to come. KE-ZU sold design on features and benefits, not on price.
The manufacturer's collections needed to have a point of difference with a focus on quality, global designers and environmental responsibility. Each manufacturer's products also had to meet the most rigorous standards of strength and durability testing required for the contract market.
KE-ZU needed to be the most professional of its competitors. Delivering professionalism through focusing on the processes and systems of the company ensures clients' expectations and needs were always foremost in all that we did. This would involve training staff and creating the culture of a family who could also have fun whilst working. KE-ZU focused on the individual and growing each person's ownership of their responsibilities to ensure they always felt supported by being listened to, their work and opinions valued and their efforts appreciated. At the same time, all staff continue to gather weekly for a shared “family lunch” in the showroom provided by KE-ZU.
In the beginning, brands that were represented were largely from Spain, such as Andreu World, Enea, Sellex, LZF, and M114 – all who remain within our stable of brands today.
As the needs of the corporate and hospitality market changed in Australia and new opportunities arose – a second wave of European design manufacturers was integrated: Artifort, Emu, Sancal, Vondom, Eden, Expormim and New Design Group. The final design brands to complete the KE-ZU collection were AICHI from Japan, Bernhardt Design, Arcadia Contract, Tuuci, Global and Nightingale.
We can proudly say that none of our suppliers is part of the growth of “Fast Furniture”, who manufacture different styles quickly and cheaply by outsourcing manufacturing to countries with lower wages. All our manufacturers comply with the Modern Slavery Act of 2018 and are free of child exploitation and forced, bonded or compulsory labour.
Critical factors that started to impact the importation of furniture from Europe and other countries to Australia around 2000 were: cheaper products and replicas that were available from China, and that freight times to Australia from Europe and the USA started to extend. KE-ZU needed to find a solution to meet the market's demands for a faster delivery time at a reduced price point. Our first solution in 1999 was to import product components with local assembly, finishing and upholstery.
This permitted us to carry higher stocks, reduce one of the greatest costs of each item - freight, provide greater employment opportunities in Australia in assembly and customising upholstery, and most importantly meet the faster delivery times required by the market.
This worked for some products, but not all. The Australian market is sophisticated, and consequently, there is a desire for the best available furniture in the world. We asked ourselves, "how we could be available to deliver on that need?". Due to the very long history of our relationships with our suppliers, with some dating back to 1995, we have earned their trust to be able to manufacture under license in Australia some products from their collections in conjunction with a high-quality local manufacturer.
Australian production enables the following benefits:
- 1. Manufacturing in Australia a highly designed product by international superstar designers is often possible through importing key components that would otherwise again incur a high cost of tooling, which can only be economically justified for a global market.
- 2. High-quality local manufacturing is possible from some of the world’s best furniture factories from which we have learnt new skills. This enables us to meet the highest standards of quality assurance and environmental standards.
- 3. A more environmentally efficient product as there are little or no shipping emissions and a reduced carbon footprint.
- 4. A product that is delivered at the best possible price that can be achieved by reducing or eliminating freight costs and import duties to subsidise a higher manufacturing cost.
Always with you.
We truly value the experience of the people who choose our furniture for their homes or home offices, workspaces, restaurants, hotels, universities, airports, medical centres, shopping centres and healthcare.
For more information on how we can support you, contact us here.