News - Totem Road

Shooting the Schneidemanns

August 19, 2016


Totem Road recently invited photographer Sam Armstrong to shoot the Schneidermann’s family home in Queens Park.

The clean, bright house was made even more beautiful with the addition of some Totem Road pieces like Kara coffee table seen here by the fireplace. Styled by Elaine Bellew with palms and ferns, the Totem Road the look was light and luscious.


To shop the Totem Road collection in ethically-sourced solid white oak and Carrara marble click here.

How to style marble

August 19, 2016

Carrara marble is everywhere in contemporary interiors. When Totem Road’s Creative Director Elaine Bellew styles homes with marble, she follows a few basic principles. This month we asked her to share with us her thoughts and tips on styling with marble, taking us through her inspiration step by step.


“Carrara marble makes a great accent to solid white oak with its pristine white surface enriched by pale grey veins.
“When styling marble I often set the purity of black granite, blackened steel or patina copper against its white purity."



“Crystals are not only beautiful but also have powerful healing benefits. When styling I always choose natural objects to provide differentiation. I am most drawn to objects derived from pure, organic, mineral earth."

Plants and Greenery  

“Organic shapes and structural plants partner well with marble."


“Cow hides with their irregular shapes create another lightweight layer of pattern and texture, which allows a dining room table to leap out and to be seen better

White on white
“We love the impact of white on white in interiors. White recalls the soft flowing pattern of the marble showing through and echoes the pale aged veins of solid white oak.

Hemp - Hessian 
“Natural hemp rugs like those from the Armadillo Earth collection, get better with age and soften with time."

“At the moment we are loving the River weave and the Sahara weave in natural and pumice." All available to buy in our Pop up in Bond

Antlers + Objects

“Antlers placed with a mixture of monochromatic ceramics blend well with Totem Road’s marble range. Little collections can be set off against marble and white oak to provide variation on the same natural theme."

Concrete trays & Gold/brass candle holders 
"A clean and simple marble dining table looks great with concrete trays resting on them. Gold brass trays and candles holders match well also.

Discover more of the Totem Road marble range at:


Feasting from source

August 19, 2016

Feasting, eating, dining and cooking are all undergoing a revolution. Just ask the leading minds in the business. Today food is more than just fuel for the engine. From intellectuals and stylists and designers, to restauranteurs and designers chefs - a new consciousness is returning to food consumption by honouring source materials. 

This month at Totem Road we asked a range of top minds to explain the new food phenomena to us and to describe what sustainability means to them. And …as winter envelops us with her short days and cold mornings -  we focus on the rites and rituals of dining. How and where we eat. Why we eat at all.

To get us started, local stylist Amanda Talbot thinks we need to loosen up. In her book Rethink she says it is time to shake off the formalities of traditional dining and make dining at home fun again.

“We need to ditch the stifling, old world term ‘dining’ table and ‘dining’ room and instead name them the ‘Feasting Table’ and better still the ‘Feasting Room’,” says Talbot - recently advocating a table loaded with food  in her sumptuous editorial for HabitusLiving.

This way of thinking advocates the idea of presenting food for grazing upon. Just picture wild weeds foraged for on local beachfronts, wheels of creamy biodynamic cheese and locally grown wildflowers spread across the with of a giant plank. It all starts, Talbot says with making our eating spaces irresistibly inviting.

“Every feasting table should always have a bowl of fruit on it, carafe of water and glasses, and flowers. The feasting table should be the heart of all homes in my opinion where the family subconsciously flock to talk, do homework and share meals,” Talbot says.

Don Garvan from sustainable furniture brand Totem Road agrees, the dining table should be the hearth of the home. A constant place for people to meet, connect, commiserate and unwind.

“A good dining room forms the centre of any home. Like the kitchen, it’s an unconscious pattern that humans are drawn toward both the eating table and the flame that cooks our food,” he says.

“I have always been interested in how space affects our well being and how comfort and enjoyment affect the way we digest and are nourished by food,” he says.

“I always advise people to keep the central rooms in their homes very classic - with strong timeless furniture  that can be matched with different soft furnishings. That way as  trends change over the years, plants, fabrics and ceramics can always be updated to suit a trend,” Garvan says

“To my mind the basics of a good solid dining room are a wonderful table and comfortable chairs,” Garvan says.

“We always advocate chairs  too, like those produced by Thonet. A good idea is to place as many chairs with arms near the dining table provided you have the space. This really helps to “bed people into” the room and let them relax.

Creative Director for Totem Road Elaine Bellew agrees. “A generous table, a place for regular feasting, is a good investment in any home. Solid oak and Carrara marble are alway my chosen materials for dining tables. I favour them for their timeless qualities and because they can take the weight and energy of feasting. They won’t date, they  just improve with age,” Bellew says.

What you serve upon the table also makes a difference to how the sacred dining space is enjoyed. In the noughties share food is the rage and many people are also joining the Vegan movement. More and more individuals are trying to eat sustainably and to rely on new foods which won't earth’s resources.

French celebrity chef Alain Ducasse says he is certain the new trend for sustainability is here to stay in fine dining. He operates a number of restaurants including Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, which holds three stars in the Michelin Guide.

“Cuisine should be attentive to the planet’s resources. I wrote a book on this issue that will be released at the end of year; a very personal book in which I develop a humanistic vision of gastronomy,” Ducasse says. “This current trend is here to stay and will only expand,” he says.

Reflecting a growing trend in kitchens both roadside and world-famous, chef Alain Ducasse has almost entirely removed meat from the menu of his other Paris restaurant the Plaza Athénée.

“The concept of naturalness was launched at the Plaza Athénée two and half years ago, when they removed red meat from the menu to focus on vegetables, grains and sustainable fish. This is the cuisine of the future,” Ducasse says.

Australian food authorities agree more people are eating with their minds, as well as their tongues in 2016.

Steven Snow, from Fins restaurant in Kingscliff has always offered his guests the best in sustainably sourced fresh seafood. “You will never see a farmed fish on my menu, as I believe it to be unsustainable and damaging to the environment," he says.

“I will only serve produce I would eat myself. I believe if we are going to take from the oceans or earth, we need to treat the process with the utmost respect. Fins’ clients understand this, they back me in this approach and consequently, thy enjoy the health benefits of conscious eating.

“I have built contacts over 27 years of trading in northern NSW. Our fish is line caught by fishermen who adopt “best practice” any where between Coffs Harbour and Mooloolooba," says Steven Snow.

“A conscious approach to eating, where food, longevity and respect for the Earth and living beings is honoured is our primary consideration. Certainly at Fins we believe it is of greater importance than profitability."

Another kind of restaurant taking sustainability to a mass audience is Three Blue Ducks. Newcomer chef and co-founder Mark LaBrooy started the Three Blue Ducks in Bronte with Darren Robertson. They are now very much part of a movement that’s been sprouting in Byron Shire for some time.

Three Blue Ducks run the food at The Farm in Ewingsdale where they try to embody a paddock to plate concept.

The super positive and up-beat Mark LaBrooy says their aim is to one day make the food at Three Blue Ducks food from 100% locally sourced food.

“We feel it is better for our environment. It is the way we want to eat in our personal lives and we don’t wish to use cheap or il- treated animals in our restaurant," he says.

“We started having a little play in the garden at Bronte: we had bees and we grew a little bit of rainbow trout in the garden that we started using that through the restaurant, and we really started to see the green-scaping potential of it all,” he says.

Not wanting to be limited by their small plot of land in the urban environment, the boys decided to head up north to get more space.

“We started to look at the farm where there are 82 acres of farm land available and we started digging into the world of primary industry, as well as the restaurant industry, which really excited us," he says.


LaBrooy admits that while their entire patronage might not always  "get it", or feel sustainable food is value for money, he knows that persistence on this journey will pay-off.

“If as a business you can shy away from the fast food or cheap food world, where the produce hasn’t been cared for or where the the food has been created in such a way that it creates an unrealistic price point, then I believe you are definitely moving in the right direction.

“I feel we are in a transition period where people are starting to understand that food is a medicine and not just something to stop you from being hungry,” LeBrooy says.

Echoing the feeling many local designers and innovators, LeBrooy confirms a trend around truly sustainable food and a return to consciousness when dining and eating out. This shift can be seen, felt and tasted and it is encouraging to see so many innovators harking from Sydney’s lifestyle focused beach suburbs bulding brands that reflect this deeper value of honouring the source of our consumables.  



Salon de Mobile 2016 will henceforth be called Milano Design Week. Now everyone who could not pronounce it before, will breathe a welcome sigh of relief.

This year 2016 Milano Design Week welcomed 322,152 visitors from around the world. In its 55th edition, the design fair explored the newest young designers, some of the Google-fication of office interiors and Euro Cucina, the bi-annual display of everything cutting-edge in kitchen design.

Beijing-based Frank Chou Design Studio pictured top and above  recently launched a collection of furniture that made its debut at Design Shanghai in March 2016 and Milano Design Week 2016.

Major trends were mid-century modern American furniture; coloured glass; sustainability in reuse of materials and flat pack furniture. The other major theme was brands scrambling to incorporate functional integration, or multi functional furniture into their range.

In kitchens and bathrooms we saw many over-sized items such as baths and sinks, placed as ornaments in the room rather than looking fixed. This year it was common to see key room pieces isolated from the walls, taking on a 'suspended in space' dimension.

In general the vibe was more decorative than previous years, with an emphasis on crafted, curved items offering great purity of form.

There was also a predominating love of Yves Klein Blue in fabrics like velvet.  The other major trend was a true return to visible craftsmanship. This was seen in the grain and conjunctions of many pieces that brought the making and the artisanal methods to the fore.

Drawn from Japanese aesthetics and culture, Claesson Koivisto rune has realised the ‘bonsai’ seating collection for Arflex whose minimal, curvaceous shapes are reminiscent of bushes and shrubs. Presented at salone del mobile during Milan Design week 2016, the series of upholstered lounge chairs, ottomans and couches are characterised by soft forms that echo natural geometries found in gardens across japan, where botanicals are cultivated and trimmed in order to create organic, cloud-like shapes.

Rich mahogany, burgundy, walnut and deep tans made a strong appearance in the colour palette, offset by a lovely lichen, mint type sage green which formed the backdrop to many stands. This green appeared to riff off the sustainability theme, playing deftly on our subconscious.

Francesco Meda's split marble table reveals the material's intricate layers

Colour blocking and the use of hung mobiles was also strong, with many stands pared back to bare essentials. Some of the most successful stands showed only a few items, making their simplicity and elemental nature more pronounced. A playful return of colour was a welcome event, not only in bedrooms and bathrooms but kitchens and lounge rooms too. A deep sense of “play” was central to interiors with many items designed to please the "inner-child" in all of us. This was particularly relevant in office and bedroom furniture.

Tactile Corpuscules by Sanne Muiser are made by needle-punching natural materials such as wool and sisal into a man-made latex base

Some Totem Road's favourite items were those taking direct inspiration from nature. At Milan 2016 and in response to the "overwhelming presence of technology" in society today, many students from Design Academy Eindhoven created an objects and installations to be touched. Nature & Tactility is explored in the gallery below, with some of the stand out exhibition items from Design Academy Eindhoven.


Last of the Free by Scottish designer Nick Ross researched Roman accounts of his country's indigenous Caledonian people and used the findings to create a collection of furniture and homewares.

Urtica by Nina Gautier explored nettle's potential for making textiles

Care for Milk by Ekaterina Semenova is a series of ceramic objects made using leftover dairy products

S-Pot by Maddalena Selvini were multifunctional cooking stones that can be used to warm food and drinks just as a cup of tea warms the hands.


Milano Design Week

Visual Sustainability

April 29, 2016

How true luxury utilises time to increase its value

Affordable furniture brands like Matt Blatt and IKEA are so adept at churning out fast furniture, their products are cheap enough to buy and throw away soon after.  It’s the same in fashion. Mega fashion brands like H&M, Uniqlo, Topshop and Zara have changed the way a whole generation shops. Today as consumers, we are all guilty. We buy more, use it for half the time and then throw it away twice as quickly.

Our grandparents adage of quality not quantity has been all but lost. We follow mere fads at a faster rate that any generation previous to ours. And in doing so, we buy into a cycle of never-ending waste.

In Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Elizabeth Cline notes the average American buys roughly 64 items of clothing in a year. Unsurprisingly much of it reaches the rubbish bin within weeks of purchase. 

In Australia the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirms that the volume of waste deposited to landfill is increasing. In 2001, 19 million tonnes of waste were disposed to landfill, and by 2007 this had grown to more than 21.3 million tonnes. That’s a large increase of 12%. While some of the can be accounted for by population growth, it’s true we have more stuff these days and more stuff of less quality means more waste.

Whichever way you look at consumption, increasingly our lifestyle is placing more and more pressure on natural systems. Scientists continue to investigate how human interactions with natural systems can be improved and sustained. And brands are also starting to take their share of responsibility. 

When we talk about visual sustainability, we are really talking about more than just the materiality of the product and the how long it lasts, we are talking about the overall design, the way it looks.

Brands like Marimekko have used the same Unikko print since the 50’s - it's currency as a print has lasted for five decades. Cartier also make only very slightly tweaks to its classic watch faces each season. This is because great brands build longevity in. Take for example Hermès.


Established in 1837, this French leatherwoods manufacturer still today specialise in leather, lifestyle accessories, luxury, and ready-to-wear. If it should break, a leather bag, bought at any Hermès store will be repaired throughout its entire life, by the company, free of charge.  Similarly with Porsche, the German automobile manufacturer, it’s a stunning fact that sixty percent of all Porches ever made, are still on the road today.

Through these examples, we see how true luxury and sustainability share common values. A primary one being quality design and craftmanship. Whilst the ticket price might look high at first glance, both these products represent excellent value on a cost-per-wear or years-of-use basis.

TOTEM ROAD YORK BED Inspired by the contemporary aesthetic of a New York loft, York's platform design combines timeless simplicity with luxurious and functional proportions.

Luxury and sustainability share many common values and benefits. They share craft, materiality and visual beauty. They also share a connection to nature through their fine materials. We find throughout history, that some of the most wonderful things on earth are designed to improve with age. Art, leather, wood, diamonds are all prized in old age. In fact as an asset class; wine and art also become more valuable with age. In nature and the great outdoors also, ancient sculptures cast in bronze and marble gain a beautiful patina in old age that cannot be easily replicated in a factory. 

In our own small way, any object that remains, gains a new respect in our minds. Be it a silver frame from your birth, a great leather briefcase or a beautiful gold ring passed on from a family member.

Handcrafted from ethically-sourced sustainable solid oak, each piece is naturally unique and provides unencumbered freedom to evolve your personal style.

The return to artisan values can also be seen in global support for artisan markets and their community of makers at Authenticity, handmade, hand crafted are once again highly prized qualities attracting consumer interest.

Millennials particularly are shunning mega brands in favour of small, independent labels where fans can have direct communications with the originators online.

In France, the home of luxury - a recent trade fair celebrated this renaissance of culture, by only inviting ethically made luxury brands to exhibit (including Totem Road.)

1.618 PARIS (Top) behind the scenes at 1.618 in Paris. This agency is devoted to sustainable luxury. It's remit covers everything from Champagne and cosmetics, right through to fashion and furniture.
Noyer (pictured bottom) is a Danish carpenter focused brand, which prioritises high quality materials. Their products are mostly made out of American walnut. They will show at the North Modern which is also arranged by 1.618 from 18-20 August 2016 in Copenhagen.

At Totem Road we sat back and noticed a consciousness returning to consumers in this respect. We have also noted how after two decades of exposure to mass luxury or mass-tige - there was becoming a real thirst for quality.

This is because instead of tacking on green ethics as an after thought, Totem Road spent a lot of time and energy up front, thinking about exactly how each product in the range is crafted and how long it would last. This attitude has paid dividends.  Totem Road now offers a set of furniture you will never won’t want or need to throw out. Crafted from marble and white oak, the solid and reliable furniture range is designed to stand seven generations of wear and care.  To view more of the range click here.


What is marble?

April 22, 2016

Why Carrara marble is honoured Totem Road’s sustainable lifestyle range. 

When Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei creates a surveillance camera out of marble, you know he is making a bold, contemporary statement. Immortalising this technology, speaks to the themes of paranoia and voyeurism prevalent in our culture. And though materiality has always been a feature of this artist's work, this piece really stands out.

AI WEIWEIWith Surveillance Camera (2010), Ai Wei memorialises the clunky apparatus of CCTV surveillance by replicating it in marble, the medium common in monuments and gravestones. Here Ai evokes themes of paranoia and voyeurism and the omnipotence of a ‘policing’ authoritative force. It underscores his own particular response to constant surveillance: making his life totally transparent through endless Twitter documentation. This work asks; If everything is open there’s nothing to spy on.

Ai's Carrara marble Surveillance Camera shown at his recent NGV show in Melbourne with Andy Warhol, raises a pertinent question: Is CCTV how our generation will be remembered? Is widespread suspicion part and parcel of our cultural legacy?

AI WEIWEI, Colored Vases, 2006/2008, nine vases from the Neolithic age (5000­–3000 BCE), industrial paint, dimensions variable. Private Collection, USA. Photo by Greenhouse Media. Courtesy Arcadia University Art Gallery, Philadelphia.

Certainly more beautiful objects were fashioned out of marble by the Greeks and Romans during Classical Antiquity. After all Carrara marble has been used since the era of Greek Archaic sculpture onward. It is still quarried today in the city of Carrara, in the Lunigiana, at the northernmost tip Tuscany, Italy. 

Today Carrara marble can be found all over the world. From the proud Harvard Medical School Building in Boston, to London’s stoic Marble Arch and Oslo’s majestic waterside Opera House ( pictured below ), in Norway. This is because marble stands the test of time. It lives to tell us something about our shared history.

OSLO OPERA HOUSE Opened in 2008 the Oslo Opera House, in Norway is the home of The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway. The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with Italian marble and white granite and make it appear to rise from the water. It was design by Snøhetta.

In practical terms Carrara marble is especially prized for fine art sculpture because of relative isotropy and resistance to shattering. Unlike some materials which crumble to the sea, marble endures. 

Marble can also be highly polished, making it ideal for decorative work.
While this trend for embellishment may wax and wane, marble remains a favourite with designers, architects and interior stylists. Even as light and concrete become the predominant forces in great architecture, marble holds its ground as a key material.

In contemporary and modern art, marble is also everywhere. Works by artists like Rodin and Michelangelo, show how these masters adored working with it.

If you look to Carrara itself the reasons abound. For a start the typical “waxy" look of marble, gives stone sculpture a human appearance.

Secondly the pale grey veins bring a rich and fluid humanity to this fiercely dense material. It’s no wonder to find, that furniture design incorporating marble, is still made today, in a myriad of styles.

TOTEM ROAD DINING TABLE Kara's timeless appeal lies in its luxurious, functional proportions and authentic simplicity, giving you the freedom to personalise the surrounding space. Carrara marble top and white oak base.

Marble also offers architects, artists and industrial designers a visual and material sustainability few can rival. For a start it is superior to bronze and limestone because while its is relatively soft and easy to work when first quarried, yet becomes extremely hard and dense with age. Secondly it has a neutral impact on rooms. This neutrality and durability has enduring benefits.

TOTEM ROAD COFFEE TABLE Kara is crafted from Carrara marble with its free flowing veins and slightly translucent quality. Complimented by our ethically-sourced sustainable solid oak base and hand finished natural grain.

Today in an era where people are questioning the sustainability of everything from the fish they eat to clothes they buy, owning something solid and reliable counts for more than ever. 

Marble is still used by many architects making modern buildings. It is simultaneously used in the most public places and most private spaces one can think of. It cannot be pigeonholed as opulent or rustic. It straddles both worlds.

MARBLE SPLASH BACK & TABLE CM Studio combine a marble topped table and splash back to add luminosity and a sense of space to this ground floor terrace kitchen spilling onto a small courtyard.

In the kitchen marble provides many smooth, flat, consistent horizontal surface with a cool temperature which makes it ideal for making pastry. In the bathroom it is chosen for it's calming, clinical, clean and easy to clean durability.

MARBLE SHOWER ROOM This marble shower room by CM studio uses Carrara Marble as a striking backdrop and floor for a small bathroom in a Paddington terrace.

Totem Road who have made it their business create ethical, luxury furniture devoted to the needs of conscious consumers chose Carrara marble for both its high quality and effortless simplicity. In a bid to make furniture that is not ‘over-designed’ and can claim the asset of timelessness - Totem Road have chosen to feature marble as a fitting accent to their white oak range of futniture.

TOTEM ROAD SIDE TABLE Marble mid-sized table suitable for sitting alongside sofas, bed and arm chairs.

Dinging tables and coffee tables are all topped with Carrara marble slabs, providing a flawless, evergreen look that can blend with any interior. To learn more about the Totem Road Carrara range click here.