Metro Bin

Interview: Rory Bremner of the Tilley Group

These are short interviews with designers, manufacturers, artists, and residents who use the tiny bits of urbanity we generally call street furniture. This interview was conducted over email and edited for clarity.

We’re a future focused sheet metal company, in our 100th year of business. We specialise in the cutting, punching and forming of sheet metal products and components. We service a wide range of industry sectors, project and production manufacturing making up a larger part of our turnover per year. Street furniture makes up roughly 20% of sales per annum.

Our entry into the street furniture market coincided with technology that we acquired at the time. We had a few turret punch presses and quickly developed our competencies around perforated metal products. The then owner was visiting the UK and noticed the variety of punched metal furniture products placed at many railway stations around England. Upon his return, with a few photos, a basic range of punched metal offerings were developed.

Bench detail
Credit: Rory Bremner, Tilley Group 

I’d like to acknowledge that the efforts of the people who manufacture these items. These aren’t the people you typically see modelling themselves in some of the exotic locations where you find our range of offerings positioned, but deserve recognition as having created some beautiful elements that enhance our environments.

Rory Bremner, Tilley Group 

What have you learned about creating public places and furniture?

I believe good design is enduring. When we entered the market in the 1980s there were only a handful of suppliers here in New Zealand. With globalisation centred upon other areas of the economy, there was very little competition and entry barriers were created around relationships and existing product in situ, design amendment wasn’t a priority. Over the past 15 years, competition from imported sources facilitated the need for ongoing product improvement and monitoring of prevailing trends from overseas. But, creating product that incorporates the core values of your brand is paramount; if you’re all about quality, make this a core feature of your product.

I really cannot say what my favorite piece of street furniture is. The environment has much to say about a piece of furniture as the furniture itself. The synergy between the two must be established.

bench
Credit: Rory Bremner, Tilley Group 

From my perspective, high density environments cry out for greenspaces that reconnect people with nature, they have a massive influence on our wellbeing. But this is a hard one to answer, perspectives can be determined by demographic aspects, historical, physical and geographical influences. I can remember visiting Hong Kong a few times and the pocket parks of Kowloon perform the important function as lungs for the immediate city. Similarly, where I live, the topographical influences of the hills and harbour impact on our attitude to space and use of it. By comparison, a large city in Europe with a relatively flat environment can enjoy expansive parks that can afford elements of duplicity and multiple use. Parks and leisure environments are critical for all inhabitants, people need to recognise their importance as living assets, not articles of fashion.

Thank you to Rory Bremner, Tilley Group for taking time for this interview.

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