If you follow Victoria Road in East Hawthorn, a suburb in Melbourne, then you will eventually come to an old dairy shop where, instead of butter, milk and cheese, the window displays high-quality designer furniture. The white-tiled walls form the perfect backdrop when the master joiner, Anton Gerner, presents his unique products. “I did not actually plan on starting my own company”, he explains with a laugh. “But there was simply no one in Melbourne who offered me work that interested me.” Anton’s passion is working with wood – from the rough sketch to the final precise finish of each piece. He knew his chosen career from a young age. In seventh grade he had to make small objects out of wood. “I probably spent more time with woodwork than I should have”, he admits with a wink.
Seeing how a three-dimensional object is created inspires and motivates me.
After his vocational training at the Melbourne School of Woodcraft, Anton first took on simple orders for friends and acquaintances and worked for a variety of furniture makers. He also spent a lot of time reading books and magazines about wood and design. In keeping with the motto “learning by doing”, he continuously improved his skills and began to build and display high-quality designer furniture. “My customer base kept on growing and I began to buy tools and machines that let me work more efficiently”, he explains. After a number of years as a one-man operation, he founded Anton Gerner Furniture Pty Ltd. Today Anton still loves the variety of his working day. “Every day offers new opportunities to create something beautiful.” Satisfied, he glides his hand over a table made of ebony. He still has a vast number of ideas in his head for furniture to build.
Where does Anton find his inspiration? In day-to-day things such as cars or a garnished dish at a restaurant. “Appealingly designed things that look good interest me.” However, Anton does not always have complete freedom to express his creativity. His customers often have a specific style in mind. Combining the design, type of wood and pricing to match the customers’ ideas is a constant challenge for Anton and his team. They only use high-quality solid wood for the workpieces. And this quality is more than worth the cost. Once an order has been accepted, Anton closely supervises the entire design process: “Not one single piece of furniture leaves the workshop until I am satisfied, even if it means that we have to deliver late.”
After Anton has given a piece his final approval, it is loaded into the Sprinter and delivered to the customer. Navigating through Melbourne’s narrow inner-city streets is not always easy. “That is why I chose the model with the short wheelbase. We also love the reversing camera a lot”, says Anton with a grin. This makes parking in the inner city child’s play. He also finds the wing doors with their 270 degree opening angle especially practical: they allow the designer furniture to be loaded and unloaded comfortably. Anton’s Sprinter also serves as mobile advertising and sports his company logo: “I have acquired a lot of clients because people have seen the van driving around Melbourne.” Interested customers often turn up at the old dairy and admire Anton’s timeless pieces.