Karl Bergersen is the founder and Creative Director at Three of a Kind Furniture Based in Leichhardt, for the last 26 years, Three of a Kind Furniture has been busy supplying Sydney, interstate and overseas buyers with handmade furniture in historic timbers with eco friendly finishes. During this time their small, cottage style business has only had a handful of proud and dedicated craftsmen. “It is a specialised area because a regular cabinet maker would not understand the Three of a Kind aesthetic” explains Karl. “Most importantly this requires respect and consideration for the patina of the mostly 100+ year old timbers that the team uses. We feel there’s no point in sourcing beautiful raw materials and then dressing them with machinery that removes all the character that drove you to source reclaimed materials in the first place” he continues.
It can be quite a painstaking process denailing, metal detecting, and squaring up these timbers that have sometimes had a pretty hard life in their previous existence. However, says Karl, they find the nastier, more time consuming timber to deal with, often makes the more interesting piece! “Our whole end game is to create pieces that are instantly recognisable as not having come from a chain store” he says. This ethos spreads across all that they do – whether it be a table, a bed, entertainment unit or bookcase.
They have been getting an increasing number of requests for full kitchen fit outs and bathroom vanities. Over the years Three of a Kind has brought warmth and durability to many cafes, restaurants and other retail outlets who want a stylish, upmarket presence in their store, and who know that their patrons will appreciate the effort their company has made to do the right thing by the environment – with the added benefit of supporting a 100% Australian made product.
At Three of a Kind the preference is to use 100% reclaimed timber sourced from demolishes, developers and builders they have built up a relationship with over the 26 years . “Sometimes, when a client wants solid timber but is working to a budget, we can achieve our signature rustic look by using plantation timber, often in conjunction with reclaimed timber, which can help keep the prices down whilst still being environmentally responsible” says Karl. All of their colours are water based and biodegradable, all clear coats are the highest quality water based urethanes, even the marine grade clear is the latest water based environmentally clear coat on the market.
Karl has a background in textile printing. He worked with Dare Jennings as the production manager at Mambo Graphics for a number of years establishing the surfwear brand. He then went on to become a quarryman working in the construction industry, primarily with sandstone, before making the move into handcrafted furniture; something that sprang from making pieces for his own home, family and friends.
“My business came about from not being able to find a dining room table with the earthy and rustic aesthetic. Having a background in construction (albeit stonework) I decided it wouldn’t be too difficult to make my own table” he remembers. Soon a flurry of orders from friends gave Karl the confidence to believe that a retail outlet of his own would be a good idea. After opening on King St in Newtown in 1992 not a week has gone by where he hasn’t had an order to fill. “Not bad going for a screenprinting stonemason!” he says.
Karl says that his initial reason for being drawn to recycled timber was the aesthetic that it brought to the finished piece. As he got older and became more exposed to the devastation that irresponsible business practice is having on the environment, he realised how beneficial reusing, recycling and being careful not to use solvent based finishes is to the planet. Working in plantation timber where needed, also brings their special style of furniture to people who want to do the right thing by the environment but may not have the budget to have a piece made in recycled timber.
Their client base is mostly young families who are putting down their roots and replacing all the odds and sods of furniture they’ve inherited and just ‘made do’ with over the years. “They’ve come to know their style and are now keen to buy pieces that they want to keep long term. Most of the older demographic that buy our furniture may have an established primary residence and are sourcing our product more for their rural retreat or beach home” says Karl.
Karl’s Tips For a Sustainable Home
- We often have customers come to us with memorabilia such as old stained glass panels from previous family homes that they’d like to be incorporated into a useable piece of furniture.
- We have also had people with slabs of marble from buildings that have historical connection or significance to them and we have made both vanities and kitchen islands utilising these materials.
- Basically what we’re saying is if you have any keepsakes that you think could be repurposed this is something we’re both versed in and really enjoy doing.
“This is a great utility cabinet with sturdy storage boxes. All four boxes have an arsenic green front and a dirty red front so that they are interchangeable – meaning you could have all red drawers, all green or a combination of both. We’ve utilised a reproduction metal Harley sign and some industrial mesh in the doors. Overall creating a nifty, unique place to store all kinds of stuff. We can build cabinetry to suit your needs and style” says Karl.
You can find Three of a Kind Furniture here