Glass half full: Behind the scenes at Ben Glass Furniture

  • News
  • July 9, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Glass half full: Behind the scenes at Ben Glass Furniture

Glass, who has only one other employee, says he has co-located his factory and shop so he doesn’t have to be in two places at the same time.

“If I make something new, I can put it in on display immediately,” he says.

“Customers can see how we make it, I can show them different types of wood and different design options.”

E-commerce is important to Ben Glass Furniture, as all of the Grey Lynn-based company’s sales are made online through email.

Customers peruse his furniture through Facebook, Instagram and his website, and then the store acts as a showroom and pick up point for the furniture.

Glass is the son of a former Maori wood carver and was born and bred in Pirongia, a small town of just over 1000 people in the Waikato.

At the age of 21, Glass founded his furniture company specialising in wood under his own name in 2010. The significance of his last name is not lost on him.

“It’s a little bit misleading,” he laughs.

He operated out of Hamilton doing mostly custom jobs, such as bookshelves or dressing tables.

Then in 2013, he did a major fit out of Hamilton restaurant Chim Choo Ree’s tables and bar.

He says having products he designed and a place to showcase them made him realise he wanted to produce and sell his own designs.

So in 2014, he moved up to the big smoke – Grey Lynn, Auckland Central.

It was a decisive move for Glass, who studied music at University and had previously worked as a guitar teacher.

He says that with music, what he created didn’t necessarily turn out the way he wanted, but he is always happy with the furniture he creates.

“The biggest motivator for why I’m doing this is because whatever I see in my head, I can make it. The visions come to life,” he says.

The premises he found on Newton Rd had had a diverse past life: it was previously used as a garage to store a Lamborghini in, and before that, a place to stow coffee beans.

The one thing it was missing was a commercial fit out, so a lot of work had to be done to get the showroom up and running.

The roller door that the Lamborghini had previously purred out of had to go, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors replaced it to catch the eye of passers by.

“I wanted [the store] to be approachable, for people walking past to come in and have a look and if they were driving past, I wanted them to look at it from the outside,” Glass says.

Glass erected a wall was erected to divide the 126 square metre garage space into a workshop and a show room.

Framing timber was used as the main material for the walls, so Glass could craft it himself with the help of a few friends.

It worked out cheaper that way, he says, and he wanted to be able to say he made everything in the store.

The showroom is a cosy 20 square metres and has an art gallery feel.

Glass says he wanted the space to act as a blank canvas for the furniture, so the colour scheme is kept neutral, with white walls, grey concrete floor and charcoal-framed doors.

This makes the pops of colour stand out.

The almond-coloured Teak wood feature wall and the mustard coloured door are eye catching and get the most mentions from customers, Glass says.

His signature furniture pieces provide the rest of the paint to the blank canvas and fill the space.

Some of his most popular designs, such as the European Oak low chair and the Talma American Ash table, are featured.

The show room has also provided the opportunity for Glass to show what else he can do, besides furniture.

This includes lighting, timber wall installations and interior joinery.

If you peeled back the walls of the clean, stark showroom, you’d find the cluttered, chaotic space where Glass makes his designs come to life.

The 106 square metre workshop hosts a myriad of wood-shaping equipment and tools, including Japanese hand tools he was taught how to use from a temple carpenter.

He says the financial crisis in 2008 helped him when he was starting out, as he could buy his machinery at cabinet maker liquidation sales.

“It was kind of like going to a funeral at the auctions, as there was millions of dollars of equipment going for thousands of dollars,” Glass says.

“But it meant I could start my business.”

In the workshop, Glass designs and builds the furniture himself, which he says is a rarity now days.

“To me its really obvious when a piece of furniture isn’t made by a person and is designed on a computer,” he says.

“It’s almost everything I see [now days]. Either that or it’s made very simply.”

He says he’d like to expand out to be a full showroom and retail store eventually.

“I’m a bit under resourced, being one person managing all this, but I don’t think it’s impossible,” he says.

This story was originally published in NZ Retail magazine issue 737, April/May 2015.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register team
Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

As of 3pm on March 21, a wide range of semi-automatic weapons have been reclassified under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act as requiring an E endorsement on a firearms license. This means they can no longer be sold to those with A-category gun licenses, and their purchase now requires police approval.

Read more

Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register
Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

NZ Retail and The Register’s sales and marketing breakfast saw dozens of Kiwi retailers come together to network, sharing tips and tricks and absorbing expert advice.

Read more

Who stole Christmas?

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Kelly Withers
Who stole Christmas?

Results are starting to trickle in from Christmas 2018/2019, and for many retailers, they're a little disappointing. Paydar chief executive and co-founder Kelly Withers explores the data.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

A group of visiting Chinese businesspeople have raised $2.35 million for victims of the Christchurch mass shooting.

Read more

The Retail NZ Awards: What does it take to be a winning retailer?

Take this time to shine with the upcoming Retail NZ awards, a chance to show the retail industry what makes your business stand out. No ...


Hunting & Fishing New Zealand voluntarily pulls military-style assault weapons from sale

  • News
  • March 20, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Hunting & Fishing New Zealand voluntarily pulls military-style assault weapons from sale

In the wake of the attack on Christchurch’s Muslim community on March 15, strong calls for changes to New Zealand’s gun last have been made. Trade Me was the first retailer to act, halting the sale of all semi-automatic weapons on its platform, and it has now been joined by Hunting & Fishing New Zealand.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit