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October 16, 2014

City design – Franco Crea in the CBD

With a new studio on Pulteney Street, furniture and space designer Franco Crea is pushing back against the mass-manufacturing marketplace and bringing good design to Adelaide.

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  • Pictures: Daniel Marks
  • Words: Farrin Foster

“All my colleagues, when they finished studying design they just went. Melbourne, Sydney – gone,” says Franco. “I was really naïve – I just thought I’d stay and see if I could do something for Adelaide.”


Visit Franco at 442 Pulteney Street, Adelaide to commission yourself a beautiful, custom-designed dining table.

The Pulteney Street space is another step in a long line of efforts to do that thing for his city. After originally starting up a partnership business – Pureform Furniture – in the city’s East End more than seven years ago, Franco has re-invented himself several times in an effort to strike the right chord.

He launched his own brand – with a focus on a minimal and pure aesthetic – last year, and decided the time was right to make his way back into the city after some years spent working from a private Parkside studio.

“Design culture, food culture – that was really non-existent here seven or eight years ago,” says Franco. “Now people are looking more at design, so they can see the finished product but also understand how it evolves and appreciate it.”

“We’ve got beautiful exposure in this spot and the whole thing with the move was to try and educate the public about good design.”

As the tastes and knowledge of Adelaide’s population has evolved, so has Franco’s understanding of running a sustainable business. While his pieces have always been appreciated for their aesthetic and conceptual value, he now balances that with the need for affordability and the necessity of fulfilling a practical function.

“Originally, we had some pretty way out pieces and people would acknowledge it – they would say ‘that’s so beautiful’ but they would never buy it,” he says. “But now I look for a balance… You need a point of difference and it needs to be at the right price to go into a market and compete against a thousand other tables, there’s so much to consider.”

His practice is madly busy now – with a mix of commercial clients such as Adelaide Oval (“that was just so many tables,” says Franco) and custom design jobs for homeowners after a standout piece.

This growth has been facilitated by Franco’s respect for the local manufacturers who help him create each piece of furniture.

“What I try and do now is try and keep everything locally made –whether its South Australian or national manufacturers – and work with them really closely,” he says. “The parameters of each material – that tells you how much detail you can put in, how it can be cut, different fastenings that need to be used, different joining methods and technical stuff.”

At night, a projector stands in the Pulteney Street showroom and illuminates a reel of Franco’s designs. Every Monday morning, he comes and cleans the smudges from the window where people have pressed their faces and hands whilst watching.

Smiling as he talks about, Franco says he hopes they’ll come back and visit when the lights are on so he can talk them through what he does.

“I really love what I do so I don’t have a problem educating people about it.

“It’s nice, there’s a bit more of a story to it. I want people to experience having something beautiful where they don’t think ‘oh, I can’t afford that’ – so it doesn’t scare them so much,” he laughs.

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