From learning curves to business reinventions, we got the inside to Corban & Blair’s almost 30-year success from co-founder Gillian Corban.
Despite technology’s popularity in taking and storing photos, Corban & Blair have kept the traditional form of displaying photos well and truly (and stylishly) alive.
Their unique and authentic pieces are the perfect addition to every blank wall – be it in the home or office. We’ve already mentioned before that photo frames are one of the best items to personalise your home. Corban & Blair help you do just that.
Their stunning creations celebrate memories, loved ones, and milestones – just like their own! Co-founder of Corban & Blair, Gillian Corban, shares her most prized frame as we spoke about inspiration, technology and production.
Corban & Blair is approaching the 30-year mark, congratulations! How did the business begin and how has it evolved over the years?
Freedom to create our own culture and have a challenging creative job inspired us to start Corban & Blair.
Through economic ups and downs, big learning curves, global change, new technology and business reinventions, we have with our team been designing and manufacturing products for over 28 years.
We’ve managed this by being realistic (not hopeful) along with open minds, flexibility and the ability to change as the market environment changed.
What’s a typical day in the Corban & Blair office like?
We’re very customer focused so all orders that come in overnight, along with emails for quotes, and responses to our other social media, are always the first priority.
The team work on our various projects until 11am where we share morning tea around our large red table. We have turns at preparing this and there is always some marvellous cake, made or obtained by someone.
We have various project meetings, and look after people who come into our studio shop. Then we may have client meetings out or in our showroom, or may need to spend time at our factory in Revesby. Lunch happens around 1.30pm. People start drifting home around 5.00ish especially those that have been there since 7.00am.
Where are your products made? And why is the handmade process so important to Corban & Blair?
Most of our products are made by hand. This is people actually cutting, glueing, stitching, covering etc. Most people don’t understand the design and manufacturing process required to create things. They do not happen overnight and the better the design process the better the product.
We manufacture in our own factory in Sydney, our frames are made in New Zealand in my brother’s factory. We’ve worked with our Chinese manufacturer in Guangzhou for the past 18 years.
In an age where the mainstream method of storing photos is digitally, why do you think people still adore photo albums and frames?
We are into technology as much as most people and embrace the future, but we also honour past skills and materials that create items that are unique, meaningful and authentic.
Albums and frames are used to showcase family, friends, creativity and connections. An important element of our human condition.
What is the inspiration behind your Australian-designed collections?
Much of our work these days is bespoke design. Our current passion is to showcase Australian cultural uniqueness and design, often in collaboration with other Australian designers and makers.
Block & Occasion Wall of Frames, Silver (Set of 6) from Corban & Blair, available online at Zanui.
And finally, what is your all-time favourite photo or artwork that you own?
We have our very first catalogue created in 1988 framed in one of our 16×16” Slim Box frames. It is very minimal and environmentally pure.
We have this hanging at the bottom of our stairwell opposite a wall of framed catalogues that came later. These catalogues are more colourful and chart the changes in the hundreds of products we have created.
We think it is an achievement to still be passionate about this business we started nearly 30 years ago.