In the 70 years Woods Furniture has been making educational furniture, longevity and durability has been central to their brand and ethos, not just for the schools and the kids that use their products, but as a company that believes lessening the environmental impact of their products is crucial to their success.

Laminex have been working with Woods Furniture for over 40 years – something we’re both proud of – but it has been a recent project that has taken that relationship a step further.

Woods Furniture range featuring Footstep on Country in Laminex CustomArt paired with Laminex Rural Oak.

Woods Furniture looked to Indigenous artist Steven Bekue to create a series of paintings and designs they could use on a range of products. A proud Bundjalung and Bidjara man, Bekue’s ancestors are the Arakwal people from the Bundjalung Nation of Australia’s east coast and are known as the “Saltwater People.”

Using painting to connect to his people and land, Bekue found solace in his art, using it as a channel to find peace, heal and keep his culture alive. His work reflects the land and sea his ancestors lived and relied upon and is bright and joyous with a contemporary use of colour within a traditional framework.

Initially Bekue’s artworks were taken and reimagined in a series of textiles and fabrics for a range of seating and ottomans but has since expanded to include hard surfaces like tabletops, cabinets and lockers – essentially anywhere Laminex CustomArt could be employed within the Woods’ range of school furniture.

Steven Beuke proudly working with his Women On Country fabric range.

The idea for the range was the sparked during a visit by the Laminex manufacturing team to Woods Furniture where Tony showed the team the new indigenous textiles range. Graham Andrews, General Manager Manufacturing says, "The team were really taken by the story and asked if he would like to see those designs turned into laminate.”

This started the collaboration between the Laminex and Woods Furniture teams, leveraging the local manufacturing capabilities of Laminex to create a bespoke range of thin and compact laminates featuring Bekue’s artwork.

Laminex CustomArt is a product that allows you to apply your designs to laminate, letting so you can design surfaces that incorporate unique details into your projects or products. It can be used on almost any interior application – from doors and tables to walls and cabinets - adding personality to any space with the durability and practical advantages of Laminex laminates. The inclusion of Laminex CustomArt was the perfect evolution for the Woods Furniture Indigenous Range.

Left | Tony Rodgers and Steven Bekue. Right | Bekue’s Footsteps on Country art in Beige represents footsteps on Bundjalung country.

“Authenticity was very important. If we were going to do this, we needed to do it right.”

Tony Rogers, Owner Woods Furniture

“For me,” says Tony Rogers, Managing Director of Woods Furniture, “it was about having a local artist produce something that could then be turned into a design that could be used in a school, not just to acknowledge the First People of Australia, but to also help teach younger people about Indigenous culture.”

“Authenticity was very important. If we were going to do this, we needed to do it right,” says Rogers of the collection.

The Woods Furniture collection using Laminex CustomArt range features four unique paintings from Bekue and speaks to the history and wonderful storytelling techniques found in Australian Indigenous cultures.

“Remembering our ancestors who walked before us and our connection to country is all part of our identity. Telling our ancestors’ dreamtime stories is a way of keeping our connection to the land and waterways alive,” says Bekue.

The Indigenous Range from Woods Furniture is available now.