What can be called bespoke furniture?
Any kind of furniture that can be customised and individually made keeping in mind the minutest detail and the wildest wish of a person is bespoke. Our philosophy is to go to any length to make an individual’s personal interior dream come true.
How’d you define the signature style of Schmalenbach furniture?
In two words — Metropolitan luxury. Our cabinets, built-in wardrobes and shelves are handmade using the highest quality material designed in contemporary styles. All our major manufacturing processes happen in-house in Gummersbach, near Cologne, Germany. This gives us the advantage to be more flexible in our designs. We use traditional craftsmen who combine saddling and upholstery techniques along with modern machinery to create unique furniture designs.
What did you learn from your grandfather who set up the family-run business almost 70 years ago?
My grandfather was a carpenter and he founded the business in 1948, in the small town of Gummersbach. As a child whenever I and my older brother had time we would assist our grandparents at their furniture assembly unit and sometimes even for sales. I learnt from them that the quality of the product is most important. They were honest and they had happy clients.
How did you train?
On the academic front I have a degree in economics. Professionally, whatever I know today I learnt on the job, being hands-on in all departments at our furniture units. In fact I was only 18 and my brother 21 when we took over the retail trade business from our grandparents in 1998. So, today at 38 I have over 20 years of practical work experience. I am observant and always learning something new from my daily interactions with architects, interior designers and craftsmen.
How do you combine traditional knowledge with modern skills to give your products a sophisticated edge?
The base of all our products are steeped in traditional craftsmanship be it the carpentary work, saddlery for leather works and veneer techniques. We combine these age-old skills and use modern precision wood working machinery to create handmade bespoke products.
What is the range of bespoke furniture that can be created?
Our core products are wardrobes – both built-in and walk-in closets, but we also do a whole host of other furniture designs that are required in an apartment. These include home entertainment systems, libraries, home office furniture, extensive shelving units, bathroom vanities, doors and even some specialised objects. We were one of the first to introduce automatic watch winders in closets to ensure watches are always running smoothly and are ready to wear. The little details help customise a wardrobe so we provide our clients with drawers built I with tie and belt pull outs, shelves with integrated jewellery sections in a range of colours and remote operated mirrors that appear at the click of a button. To showcase high-end designer bags and shoes we have special lighted glass wall closets too.
At the Al Gurg Lifestyle Store in Dubai what Schmalenbach furniture can customers buy?
We have the full range of bespoke wardrobes at the store. And very soon customers will be able to customise home entertainment systems and living room interiors.
Bespoke wardrobes and shelves, bespoke entertainment systems... What else can we expect?
Home entertainment systems are designed to mesh with the aesthetics of home interiors — we have motorised television units that appear with the press of a button or an entire entertainment console that can be flipped over on the wall when required. Similarly, we have a range of sleek doors, office furniture solutions and bathroom vanities. We call ourselves furniture engineers. That means sometimes we are just given a piece of wood and have to recreate an object that the client desires.
What have been some unique bespoke requests you have received till now?
From building a wardrobe that looks like a grand piano for a famous singer or the use of special materials such as mother of pearl on door shutters or Lalique glass patterns for a door infill to the creation of James Bond style hidden rooms and lockers... every day brings something new and we like to take it as a challenge.
Any iconic people that you have designed till now?
We have designed for royalty, sports icons and film stars including for American basketball star LeBron James and Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone.