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Michael Knell

Tovin freshens West Bros. line

Made in solidMade in solid walnut and designed by Blake Tovin, this bed from the West Bros.’ new Serra collection features both underbed storage and an upholstered headboard.
HANOVER, Ontario - Believing there's a void in the market for better and best quality contemporary case goods, West Bros. has embarked on what it describes as "an exciting new course" with a new collection from longtime designer Blake Tovin.
     Tom Halvorsen, vice president of sales and marketing, said the solid wood case goods specialist isn't abandoning its core traditional and transitional design portfolio, but is evolving and broadening its assortment.
     A new Tovin-designed collection called Serra - which is Latin for "saw" - is inspired by the work of George Nelson and mixes walnut solids with lacquered drawer fronts in fashion-forward colors, the company said. Tovin said the new designs are aimed at urban customers yearning for quality contemporary design with a North American aesthetic.
     "I've always been intrigued by the work of George Nelson, who in the mid-1950s began combining lacquer (color) and wood (walnut) in the Thin Edge collection," Tovin said. "I was fortunate enough to meet him when I was starting out as a young designer and he was about to retire. He had an amazing ability to design pieces that were both of their time and timeless.
     "This point was driven home when I recently came across some of Nelson's vintage pieces, a great pair of bedside chests he designed in the late '50s in walnut and red lacquer," he added. "I decided on the spot that I wanted to work with the idea of mixing natural wood with solid color. Serra is my nod to Nelson's classic modern designs."
     Serra is Tovin's followup to Phase, which West Bros. unveiled in fall 2011. Both collections utilize the warmth of solid walnut - which isn't a widely used species among North American furniture manufacturers - although Phase balances the wood's charms with the strong, horizontal lines and bold planes of classic modernist architecture.
West Bros.’ SerraWest Bros.’ Serra collection includes this gentlemen’s chest.

     "We see a real need and desire in the marketplace for domestically produced, high quality contemporary and transitional products," said Paul West, the company's founder and president. "And we're in a unique position to produce them because of the significant investments we've made in technology over the years. These investments, which blend the precision of CNC equipment with the talents of old-world craftspeople, coupled with Blake's talents on the design side, allow us to execute clean-lined, solid wood products very well."
     According to West, the focus on modern manufacturing technology enables West Bros. to use more expensive materials like walnut and still remain competitive.
     "Walnut is not the easiest wood to work with but it is absolutely gorgeous when it's finished," he said.
     West said that when paired with Tovin's hip, clean-lined designs, the result is beautifully executed solid wood furniture with a high-end look that allows consumers to immediately discern the obvious quality inherent in the product.
     "Unlike the products coming in from offshore - where they generally don't do contemporary because there's no ornamentation to camouflage flaws - the caliber of our construction and finishing techniques ensure we have nothing to hide," West said.
     Company officials say they believe collections such as Serra will strike a chord with today's consumers.
     "Consumers today have a growing awareness of and tremendous interest in great design," Halvorsen said. "The proliferation of blogs and television programs devoted to design and decoration means that taste levels are much more sophisticated and fashion driven in the upper middle of the market where we play."
     Serra, a 20-piece bedroom offering, includes two bed options, one with underbed storage and the other with upholstered headboards and pillows. A four-piece set should retail in the $3,500 range in both Canada and the United States.
     Halvorsen expects dining room and occasional will be introduced in the spring.
     He anticipates Serra will even appeal to retailers with a more traditional focus in their better and best bedroom offerings "because of our above average quality and finish."
     "In today's highly competitive marketplace, you have to have a very clear vision of who you are and your point of differentiation," Tovin said. "At West Bros. that translates into beautifully crafted, contemporary solid wood furniture collections for bedroom, dining room, occasional and entertainment that are comprised of designs that just can't be found anywhere else."

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