Beyond Interiors offers designs that look ready to be lived in
Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
The showroom of Beyond Interiors groups its home-furnishing collections into homelike rooms and arrangements that suggest how they might look in your own home. Australian-born owner and manager Bronwyn Blue says it's all about "trying to keep the space light and bright, using colours that are really of the earth and the sky."
NEW storefronts in Phnom Penh are often created from pre-existing structures but respond to nothing more than necessity. Beyond Interiors is a display of what can happen when a designer absorbs an existing structure with a fresh and contemporary vision.
"The main crux of the design was about bringing the garden into the showroom," says owner and designer Bronwyn Blue.
Landscaper Bill Grant created a tropical frame around the building, and glass walls and mirrors not only bring the garden into the showroom but also help create Blue's vision of freshness and lightness. The colours in the showroom also display these themes.
"It's all about freshness," she says, "trying to keep the space light and bright, using colours that are really of the earth and the sky." Although the showroom has many contemporary themes and ideas, "the building was inspired by original architectural shapes that are seen all around Cambodia".
And indeed the sea of glossy green pagoda tiles covering an interior wall does present Cambodian elements in a contemporary and inventive way.
If there's only one vase in a room, then that’s all you need. It's beautiful the way it is.
Shapes found in the original house can be seen repeated throughout the showroom, Blue notes. The wide arches, for example, above the plate-glass windows are in theme with the original ornate archway to one of the several spaces.
The showrooms themselves have been created to emulate different rooms in a house, Blue explains, "as your bedroom might be, as your living room might be. So people don't have to visualise ‘how would this work in my house?'"
"It's not just a table or a chair, it's a lifestyle concept. It's for people who know what they want in their head, but perhaps they can't find it in a magazine or can't really express it." Beyond Interiors is a showroom of collections.
"If you're someone who likes things just a little bit more simple, then you might go for the Classic Collection which is just straight lines, beautiful wood, simple shapes but very elegant. And then if you're into something a little bit more designer, you might go for the Scandinavian Collection.
"All of the collections include living, bedroom and dining ... so you have the dining table, dining chairs, bookshelf, coffee table, sofa, bed, bedside table; that's a home setting."
Blue travelled Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia to develop her collections, which she says evolved out of the fundamental needs for timeliness of delivery, and high-quality products and raw materials.
There are five collections in all, but the showroom also features individual pieces that stand alone and that could be integrated into any of the collections.
In choosing showroom merchandise, "it was really about trying to use materials that we knew were reliable, materials that we knew had been treated for ageing, for heat, for air conditioning. So the products themselves are durable and can live in different climates."
All of the furniture in the showroom can be flat-packed to make shipping easy, giving people an option to have quality furnishings here that they that they can take with them when they leave. "It's not about offering more chairs and more tables, but a different level of quality that I don't believe has been previously available here."
Running throughout the collections is a consciousness of the tropical climate of Southeast Asia. The chairs, for example, are designed to allow for better airflow.
Some of the collections were inspired by a trip Blue took to Bali where she was captivated by the chic simplicity of Balinese styling. "If there's only one vase in a room, then that's all you need. It's beautiful the way it is."
Looking ahead to design trends for the coming year, Blue sees things as being natural and organic but chic, simple and elegant, a continuation of the lightness and freshness displayed so brilliantly in her showroom.
Fine wood is a central theme throughout the showroom.
Having worked in the furniture trade for several years, Blue has seen her share of old wood turned into benches, tables and chairs.
"You need to give people the security of knowing that your sources are coming from certified government-commissioned forests or plantations. If you have a social conscience today, it's just something that you are aware of," she said.
"There are issues here that need to be addressed and there are loads of different ways of addressing them. So it could be by being a business that is more conscious in the way it sources products, or it could be by being a customer that buys their products in a more conscientious way."