The Sydney outpost of celebrated US design firm Blu Dot features elegant, considered furniture, minus the aspirational price tag.
For Brett Conroy, a glimpse of a watermelon side table in the pages of Dwell magazine proved that you only need to see something once to know you need it in your life. “I saw this table and thought ‘I need that’. There was something about its architectural qualities, its scale. I knew I had to have it.”
The side table may have represented a blissful union of form and function, but it was when Conroy encountered its makers – celebrated Minneapolis furniture designers Blu Dot – that he realised that aesthetic connection was just a sign of bigger things to come.
“When I first came across Blu Dot, I knew that we needed their aesthetic in Australia,” he recalls. “I’d visited their Soho showroom a couple of times and they told me how many Australians visited. We dated, we fell in love and that was it.”
So Conroy, whose background is a lucky blend of design and logistics, set about bringing Blu Dot to Sydney, the third location for the design firm after New York and Los Angeles.
You can hardly blame him. Blu Dot’s pieces combine the elegance of mid-century modernist design with a level of functionality that suits small-scale living – whether in a Manhattan loft or a terrace in Sydney or Melbourne. Best of all, the pieces are accompanied by a price tag that’s accessible, not aspirational.
“Blu Dot really pioneered modern, affordable, original design,” offers Conroy. “The reason that the brand caught my attention is because I wanted it for my house – there was nothing else that really suited my aesthetic. Unlike a lot of studios, where a lot is outsourced, every piece at Blu Dot is designed in-house. Each piece is incredibly thoughtful and considered.”
If you’ve ever questioned what’s possible when a designer assumes complete control of the process, all you need to do is look around the company’s new showroom in Alexandria. The space is punctuated with svelte couches in persimmon and dusty teal; coffee tables allude to sculpture while remaining fiercely practical and sleek; modular shelving units spin magic with space. Each piece strikes a perfect balance between simplicity and complexity – a hallmark of good design.
In the next year, Conroy hopes to bring Blu Dot to Melbourne and strengthen the brand’s following across the country. At present, the company ships to Darlinghurst, Darwin and everywhere in between.
“Blu Dot was founded by three friends who couldn’t find the product they wanted to furnish their own homes,” says Conroy. “Back then, it was impossible to find affordable furniture that were original designs. So they just thought they could make their own.”
It seems they’ve succeeded.