Given the name, it’s appropriate that OZ Design Furniture has been operating for the past 40 years with a Wizard of Oz mantra in mind: ‘There’s no place like home.’ The importance of creating a personal, comfortable living space to call your own can’t be overstated. Fortunately, that’s something OZ Design Furniture at Kotara can help you with.
This year, the Australian-owned-and-operated business is celebrating four decades since it opened its doors in 1979. Originally called The Great Australian Design Company, its first store was located in the Sydney suburb of Auburn. More stores (and a name change) followed, and today the brand is 34 stores strong along the eastern seaboard, including its Novocastrian branch in the Kotara Home complex.
The Kotara store operates under the overarching focus of the OZ Design Furniture brand: ‘delivering unique and attractive designs for Australian homes in sofas, furniture and homewares’. But there’s no questioning that it also has its own unique identity, reflecting and catering to the needs of the wider Newcastle region.
“If you compared us with, say, the Rutherford or Tuggerah or Gosford stores, or Port Macquarie or somebody down in Melbourne, we definitely have different demographics,” explains Rosemary Kennedy, manager of OZ Design Kotara.
“The personality of the store is reflected in our staff, but within our customer base as well, [with] Newcastle being such a diverse city. We’ve got lots of young people moving up, we’ve got retirees moving up from Sydney, we’ve got nice family homes and beachside homes, and you go out to the wineries, and they’ve got their rural properties. It’s such a mix of people and spaces and diversity, and that shows here in the store.”
Whether it’s quality furniture or stylish homewares you’re after, OZ Design is bound to have pieces for every room in every type of house. There’s no focus on one particular style; the Kotara showroom is set up to give customers ideas and inspiration, but ultimately, pieces can be mixed, matched or customised to your home and your vision. “It’s a very broad offering – I think there’s everything in here to cater to most people’s tastes. You’d be hard-pressed not to find something that was to your liking,” confirms Rosemary. “From an apartment in the city to a coastal home, to a rural setting, to a large beach pad, to quite a luxurious home… It caters to the needs of Newcastle and the greater region because there’s a lot of customisation that you can do. There’s no one size that fits all.”
Customers aren’t restricted to what they see on the showroom floor. When fitting out a dining suite, for example, settings can be mixed and matched with different tables and styles of chair, and the chairs themselves can be customised with different fabrics, colours or sizes. The choices and combinations are virtually endless, allowing you to create truly individual spaces and fulfil the particular vision you have in mind for your home.
But what if you don’t have a vision in mind? What if you’re not actually sure what you want, or what combination of furniture and homewares will look good and function well in your space? If that’s the case, don’t worry – Rosemary assures that you’ll be well looked after.
“Some people come in, and they’ve done a lot of research online - they’ve got an idea about what they want. But others will say, ‘I need a bit of a hand here’. We’ve got people who go out to the homes as well to give them a bit of an idea and a plan, or we can just discuss with them in-store what they’re looking for. They’ll be paired with a member of staff and they can go around and choose what they like. It could be anything from the timber colour that you pick, to the cushions, to the rugs, to ‘What artwork am I going to put there?’ or ‘I’ve got this space, have you got any suggestions for it?’”
Customer satisfaction is key for Rosemary and her team, which has been put together with the store’s diverse customer base in mind. “I think I’ve got one of every generation working here – we’re not all ladies over 50!” she laughs. “People are very different. It’s really got to do with you and your lifestyle and your likes and tastes, so we just try to consult with [customers] to find out what they do like and what they’re comfortable with.”
Repeat customers are a regular occurrence. As well as reflecting the efforts of the team, this is a clear testament to the quality of the products and the strength of the OZ Design brand. Rosemary recalls customers who bought from OZ Design some 20 years ago, returning simply for a change of fabric to freshen up a piece that was still going strong, or for some help with a new style. “We’ve had quite a few people come back and say, ‘I bought from you’, and they’ll bring their daughter or the next generation, so that’s been quite sweet,” she reflects. “[The brand] is endearing – it’s not a fly-by-night, it’s not going to be gone tomorrow. The company’s well put together, and it’s a family-run business.”
OZ Design Furniture is located at the Kotara Home complex, Shop 13/150 Park Avenue, Kotara. Visit www.ozdesignfurniture.com.au to find more information and to shop online, or contact the store on 8834 4690.