18 May A stunning new showroom for Forte Flooring
When you’re tasked with creating an upmarket showroom frequented by architects, designers, and those seeking high-end flooring products, you need to make sure you engage perfectionists when it comes to fitting the space out. Luckily that’s what interior design studio Wonder got when they called on Datum Projects to work on their exciting project for Forte Flooring.
Although the spacious Great North Rd, Auckland building had been recently refurbished, fitting out an older, existing structure can deliver a few curveballs – walls out of plumb, uneven flooring – and this was an exacting project that demanded a huge amount of custom joinery. The brief for Datum included a lot of furniture, specialised cabinetry detailing, and many other bespoke elements that needed to be custom-built to the site. Buster Caldwell, Creative Director at Wonder, explains how Datum rose to the challenge.
“This was a job that required a lot of technical complexity, and a deep understanding of detail and design awareness. The specifications called for important junction transitions and material finishes that needed to be bang on, in order for it to function as a showroom for a high-end clientele. Many of Forte’s audience are architects and designers who have extremely high expectations of the environments they visit. Therefore, we needed to have confidence in taking on a fit-out company that could deliver that.”
Although Datum was new to Wonder, Buster had worked with one of the company’s Project Managers, Troy Stirling while he had been with a different fit-out business. When the two bumped into each other a little down the track, Troy recommended his new employer, Datum, should Buster ever need their services. As one of three tenders for the Forte Flooring project, Datum won the contract and got stuck in. From first conversations with Wonder in August 2021, the Datum team were able to deliver the full showroom fit-out, on track in December, despite Auckland’s lingering lockdown.
But that’s not to say the project was without its complications. “One of the largest components of the space are two 10-metre-long wall display units that hold the flooring samples. All of the laminate was out of stock when it came to the procurement process,” Buster says. “So, supply was certainly an issue, and to be honest I’m not sure how Datum solved that, but they did.”
“Another issue that springs to mind is one of the features we were really particular about. It was a joinery detail along the front of the kitchen, with a kind of panelling that ran around the covered front and all vertical aspects of the kitchen. We showed Datum a reference picture for a finely milled kind of square profile timber that you can’t purchase as a stock item. It would need to be custom fabricated. So, Datum came back to us with a small envelope-sized sample of a really beautiful, laminated solution. While it looked ideal, it left them with the head-scratching problem of producing large panels at scale – a real challenge. But once more, they delivered just what we wanted – even though there were plenty of conversations back and forth on that!”
The finished showroom is a shining example of the art of craftsmanship, encompassing a large spatial display area, an incredible hosting kitchen fitted out with top appliances, and a second-level mezzanine with a boardroom and offices. Two private rooms downstairs showcase the Forte Flooring product with Forte timber on the floors, walls and ceiling. As Buster admits, they were incredibly complex to get right. “The alignment of the timber, the corner detailing, junctions and transitions, all needed to be perfect, even down to selecting the variation through the timber panels. Luckily, the Datum builder on site, Paul, was a perfectionist and he spent a lot of time and attention on the details, making sure every little thing was taken care of.”
Buster says that the final product was everything they could have hoped for, and more.
“A lot of the time on projects, we turn up and have to compromise – sometimes details just aren’t executed as well as we’d expect. But in this instance, the showroom looked just like the renders (drawings), and matched the picture in our heads.”
“In the work we do, we often see mistakes made or have to accept concessions, and the result can end up not as polished as you’d like. But with Datum’s process of producing small samples for us to sign off, and having all the details sorted prior to construction, it meant we could have confidence that we were all on the same page. Everything was executed just as we had envisaged.”
Buster sums up what it was like to work with Datum; “The quality of the finishing and craftsmanship were the key reasons why we were so happy with the project.”
Another remarkable transformation by Datum – just another day in the life of New Zealand’s fit-out experts – and another delighted customer. Thanks for having us, Forte Flooring!