Setting up the Bautier brand in 2013, the research regarding manufacturing had already begun. It was quite the challenge as finding the right manufacturing partner was really key to establish the brand. The Belgian workshops in consideration were either too small to run a serial production or too big and automated for high-end refinement. The main criteria was to find a partner that could reach the quality standard expectations and also work in depth on every detail. When meeting a manufacturer for a different purpose, it ended up being the end of the search, the right match was found - a manufacturer in the north-west of Germany, a small family-run carpentry.
The collaboration has been running for six years now and there is a level of close understanding, knowing what type of quality is expected - the small details of finishing the edges or how to package the items. The fact that production is only a few hours drive from Brussels, makes it easy to meet regularly and to maintain a close contact. Also the relatively short transport of finished products to the warehouse in Belgium makes sense. Choosing high quality manufacturing and working locally has a certain price to it, but it has been a conscious choice to support the talented craftsmanship nearby, as opposed to compromising with cheaper labour further away.
Marina Bautier studied furniture design in the UK, at Chilterns University College, a college famous for its teaching in craftsmanship and cabinetmaking. Marina had played around with woodwork as a child and found it only natural to continue creating and designing in wood. The variations and the veins in the wood bring warmth and character to a design. Marina mainly designs furniture in oak, preferring oak for its fine grain structure and colour.
The Bautier furniture is produced with wood from sustainably managed European forests, quality material being treated with care and respect. The German manufacturer was established in 1896 and maintain the knowledge and experience passed on from generation to generation. Their cabinetmakers are trained in industrial production as well as in the traditional techniques, able to work on sophisticated details of construction and to rethink new solutions.
With as simple and clean a design like Bautier offers, the choice of material, the assembly solutions and the finishes play a dominant role. Therefore the quality has to be at its very best. All the furniture is made in solid wood, keeping it durable and helping it age beautifully. Most of the large items, such as beds and cabinets, are to be home assembled. A carefully chosen type of hardware will allow the user to dismantle and reassemble the furniture as many times as needed without losing any strength or quality in the process. A lot of research has gone into finding the perfect hardware, making the assembly elements as invisible as possible.
All Bautier items are held on stock. This allows for customers to receive their items within a short period of time. And it helps optimising manufacturing costs - producing more items in the same run. Having a steady production also opens up for the possibility to adapt certain measurements, for a specific project or a market with different standard measures.
The Bautier Bed is the epitome of how simple, well-thought design paired with open-minded and skilful craftsmen, can turn a product into a bestseller. Reaching the perfect frame construction required several prototypes - it had to support the weight, be easy to assemble and make no squeaky sounds. The beds are now in production since six years and have stood the test of time with great success.
Photography: Eefje De Coninck & Senne Van der Ven