LIFE IN STYLE
For King Living's Natalie Culina, there's pride aplenty in championing the company's uniquely Australian aesthetic.
As soon as Natalie Culina, King Living’s global head of brand, walks into the company’s Sydney head office, her reason for being there is immediately evident. “The building is designed with the manufacturing hub in the centre,” she says. “It’s specifically arranged this way so we all remember what we’re here for: the product. It makes for a very collaborative environment – everything is kept very real when you can see the furniture being brought to life in front of you.”
An average workday might include checking in with the visual merchandising team, perusing new upholstery options, working with retail and product managers on preparing for new furniture releases, or casting talent for photo shoots. Natalie’s colleagues range from designers and logistics experts to some of the nation’s best machinists. “There are people who have been with the company for 30 years,” she says. “Our staff also includes tailors with clothing backgrounds who now tailor furniture for us.”
Natalie’s own background in fashion has served her well too. “I worked for Country Road for eight years before moving to King Living, so I’m very familiar with iconic Australian brands,” she says. “There are some direct parallels between the companies.” The Australian aesthetic that’s quintessential to both brands has been particularly beneficial for King Living, which now has 16 showrooms across Australia, two in Malaysia and one in New Zealand, China, Singapore and, most recently, Canada. Opened in July 2019, the Canadian showroom is proving to be a prudent expansion: “King evokes the Australian spirit – relaxed, confident, authentic. Our furniture translates well in North America; for the buying public there, comfort is king and we design and make the most comfortable furniture.”
As a guardian of the King Living brand, Natalie’s role sees her work across all aspects of the business to ensure there’s a consistency of brand communication in every market. “It’s my job to ensure that brand strategy is overlayed across the customer’s entire experience, and that all touchpoints remain true to the DNA of the brand.”
“King Living’s Sydney head office is designed with the manufacturing hub in the centre so we all remember what we’re here for: the product. It makes for a very collaborative environment.”
One of the benefits of King Living designing and manufacturing in Australia is that it enables the company to control every step of the process, from initial concepts through to sales and delivery to repair and reupholstering.
“Sustainability is fundamental to what we do,” says Natalie. “From the beginning, our founder David King has held the view that designer furniture should stand the test of time. Part of our design ethos is that every single piece of furniture has removable covers. We want our furniture to live through generations; it can be covered when you move or your life changes, it can be refreshed. That’s what sets us apart.”
King Living is known for its designer collaborations – with the likes of Charles Wilson and Tom Fereday – and we can expect to see more of these kinds of partnerships, says Natalie. “Working with the design community is really important to our brand. The reason these alignments are so powerful is because the designers we work with introduce a new thinking and energy that encourages innovation. It’s a joint learning process that benefits everyone involved.” H&G
Photography by Kristina Soljo