The Evolution of Artifex Interiors - Building a Brand

They have been a work horse in furniture manufacturing since 1995.  Truth be told, Anthony and Scott, Directors of Artifex Interiors, are more than business partners, they are family.  In building this small and successful business, the whole team are now like family which is key when striving for excellence.

We sat down with Anthony and Scott to find out more about the evolution of Artifex Interiors and talk about what the future has in store. 

It is a casual relaxed environment.  The guys are in their manufacturing uniforms with Made Local, Made to Last cascading down the side of their t-shirts.  We take some time to get in to it.  There is a lot to unpack over a 30-year career.....

Who is Artifex Interiors?

Artifex Interiors is a furniture manufacturer, located in Balgowlah, on Sydney’s northern beaches.

We specialise in making hand crafted pieces from a number of natural sustainable materials, including timber, marbles and metals.   

The Artifex Interiors brand launched in 1995 by us, Anthony Sergas and Scott Lander.  Our small family business was a best kept secret amongst Designers for a period of time.  Now, we have our showroom and are open to the general public.

We focus on bringing our clients carefully designed, quality products as well as supporting custom projects.

In recent years, we have expanded within the homewares and retail sector, to give our clients a one stop shopping experience.

Where did your love of furniture making come from?

Anthony:  My Grandfather was a cabinet maker.  As a child, I worked alongside him in the backyard shed. This is where my love of creating and constructing began to flourish. ⁠

Scott:  My paternal Grandfather was a joiner and carriage builder for the Railways.  I spent my childhood in his workshop, until about the age of 8 when he sadly passed.  I have so many childhood memories of hammering tacks into wood (always supervised of course), the smell of the timber, sound of machinery.

My father wasn't a tradesman but was always tinkering in a garage that we had access to as kids.   There was so much curiosity, being around workshops at home and school, fostered an innate drive to make things.

Did you study your craft?  Tell us about that.

Anthony:  We both commenced our apprenticeships at age 15⁠ and met at TAFE, through the World Skills competitions.  After TAFE, we ended up working for the same company and soon realised our drive to run our own business.

Scott:  I completed my apprenticeship with Farquar Antiques and was a Foreman by the age of 19.  In 1991, I went on to represent Australia in the Vocational Olympics in Amsterdam and placed 5th in a field of 23 countries, a great experience.

Anthony and Scott, you are Master Craftsmen, what does that mean?

We view this as someone having been in the industry for 30 years, displaying proficiency and expertise in solid timber and across the entire sector. 

A Master Craftsman also has experience and worked in multiple fields across the industry.

When did you know you wanted to start a business?

We had both experienced frustration with employers not having the same motivation, drive and passion for quality execution and customer service, that we did.

With our hunger to command the quality standard and execution of fine furniture pieces, Artifex Interiors was born.

Why is it so important for Australians to buy their furniture Australian Made?

There are so many important points to make here.

Skills and techniques will be lost if we no longer support local manufacturing.  By supporting local, you keep the economy healthy.  In turn, businesses will train locally and knowledge is passed down and maintained within Australia, ensuring employment opportunities.

Buying quality, locally made furniture, minimises the need for landfill.   You are buying an item once and have it for a lifetime. 

With Artifex Interiors, turnaround times will generally be faster than sourcing a comparative product overseas and if you encounter any issues, whether you need a repair or to refinish your dining table after 15 years, we are here.

What was the process for launching Artifex Interiors back in 1995 and did you have a strategy?

‘Anthony and Scott laugh’ - “Do you want the truth?”

We were young, 23.  We didn’t have a strategy.  We knew we wanted to do it better than everyone else.  Our thirst went deeper than just making quality furniture. 

Skill, passion and motivation made it work.

Let’s talk about the name Artifex Interiors.  How did you come up with this?

Craftsman in Latin is Artifex.  A family member suggested it and we loved it.

What has the Artifex Interiors infrastructure looked like over the last 27 years?

We started with two pieces of equipment, a panel saw and an under over.  It was just us two!

After a couple of years, we decided to expand and began training apprentices.  Back then, it was easy to find potential staff.  Trades were booming and people felt like it was a genuine career path.

We then started plans to open a showroom in 2008 but held back when the GFC hit.

In 2016, we opened our first retail showroom on Roseberry Street, below our factory.  We have been working to create a stunning space that showcases our furniture range, other local Artisans work, homewares and art.

We currently have 8 staff including us.   We source our materials from local suppliers and utilise local small businesses like Helen at Inward Outward our Photographer and Spicy Broccoli our Marketing Guru, to support our business.

Fabrication and most sandblasting is now completed within Artifex. We are working towards completing all components of our furniture in-house, with the exception of marble.  Watch this space!

Following on from this, how did you get your brand name out there to gain your first clients?

It was all connections and referrals and was like that for many years, and still is.  

Over the past 27 years, what has been your biggest achievement?

Still being in business after 27 years!  Being able to maintain a manufacturing business for such a long period for Designers, Architects, and consumers makes you feel like you are doing something right!

Producing pieces of furniture for A listers, high-end and distinguished clients as well as the everyday families is a privilege in itself.

Does Artifex go through trends? 

Absolutely.  While we are not immune to trends and styles in both furniture and interior design, we create timeless pieces of furniture that will stand the test of time.  They are constructed with traditional techniques to form the basis of a piece that will be the next generation of antiques.

Tell us about the business today.

Anthony: As we mentioned earlier, there are 8 of us at Artifex Interiors.

I would say both Scott and I are a Jack of all trades. 

I love adapting and changing designs on the fly.  You will always see me on the factory floor, working with our Furniture Maker Yahya and our Brazilian Architect turned furniture making trainee, Rodrigo.  All custom projects and unique designs are executed by myself and Scott.  I also oversee the entire business as well as ordering materials etc.

Scott:  You will find me in the polish shop.  Polishing and colour matching is my speciality.  I have a background in antiques and a strong interest in history and architecture. 

Anthony and I come together to discuss new designs and custom projects and I will be on the factory floor making furniture supporting the team when we are extremely busy. 

Our front of house is run by Alex, Zoe and Mel and Peter is our Accountant.  They make sure the showroom and office are in check and everything runs as smooth as possible. 

Last but of course not least are the dogs Tess and Moghul.  These two are companions to all.  Tess has a full range named after her and Moghul a cabinet.  These two are professionals in front of the camera and perform extremely well when snacks are on offer!

How has the process of design and construction changed for Artifex Interiors over the years?

We started out doing hand drawn sketches, this is what we would present to the client.  Now, we still do hand sketches but also work with software CAD programs to produce drawings and full 3D renders.

In the beginning our products were quite diverse.  We have now refined our scope and offering to include primarily solid timbers elements, complemented by matching veneers for internals and large surface areas.

Our material supply chain now has FSC certification ensuring sustainability and sustainable management of our timber.

What do you love about what you do?

Anthony:  I love the interaction with clients and the satisfaction of what starts out to be a 2D sketch on a paper to creating a 3D item you can touch and feel. 

I love to witness the clients face, when they see their vision and dream come to reality from a hand drawn sketch in the initial consultation, it's priceless.

Scott:  What drives me is the ability to make anything we can draw.  The intoxicating possibilities of being able to "make" within the limits of the medium.

What is your favourite furniture design era and why?

Anthony:  Biedermeier – 1815-1848, Germany: the style, the design aesthetic, contrasting elements in light and dark, beautifully detailed but exceptionally simple, figured timber elements.

Scott: Art Deco to Mid Century: an explosion of new materials and new construction techniques.

What do you want your readers to know about your product ranges?

Artifex Interiors products are designed for practical use and longevity.  Our furniture is designed and manufactured to be used, loved and lived with.

You talk about sustainability and sustainable materials.  Why is this important to you and how to you implement this within your operation?

We want to make sure we are contributing to the solution and not the problem. 

We maximise our product usage and minimise waste as much as possible.   An example is using offcuts to make chopping, grazing and bakers boards.

Trees being a renewable resource, further underpins our efforts to be sustainable for the long term.

What is the biggest hurdle, being an Australian furniture manufacturer?

Pressure from cheap imports.  Basically, reproductions of classic designs which undermines locally manufactured furniture items.

Many imported items are made for a price, not for quality and longevity. 

It contributes to a fashion of a disposable society.

Made Local, Made to Last is your ethos. Tell us more ….

Made Local, Made to Last underpins the quality of our product.  We back our product that it is going to last and we want to educate everyone in a simple fashion that it is built local and built to last.

What are you working on at the moment?

The SJS x Artifex range is developing a lot of interest, which is exciting.  We have a new product launching in this range in September, the Charlie Sofa Console. 

We are also working very closely with some amazing Designers to make products that are unique and fun to produce. 

Lastly, we love working with clients to design many pieces for their home.  When we receive projects like this, we can create new ranges based on specific design elements.  Our most recent range, launched in August, is Heather, featuring a Console, Sideboard and Tallboy Chest of Drawers.


What is something your readers may not know about Artifex Interiors?

We make all of our own hardware, in particular, handles, cable entries and wall hooks.  In the next fortnight, we are launching a mini version of our cable entries and an Organic wall hook.

We also sell furniture care products like Mirotone Spray Glow.  

What does the future look like for Artifex Interiors?

It is looking pretty exciting.  We are now moving into an area of larger design collaborations with preeminent and leading Designers within the design field.

Our homewares offering is growing, allowing us to be more of a one stop shop for interiors and quality products.

We continue to support local craftspeople by developing our house of brands.  This allows those that are starting out or individuals well established in their field, to showcase their skills and ideas.  Check out one of our longest partnerships Modanest and new artwork to the showroom by Natalie Uhrik.

What is something you want your readers to take away when learning about the evolution of the Artifex Interiors brand?

Over the last 30 years, there have been many events that have negatively impacted and closed Australian Made small businesses down.  For those that have lasted and grown during these unfortunate situations, they need your continuous support.

Australian Made is something to be proud of and you can be a part of this by buying for quality and longevity.

Made Local, Made to Last.