Christian Farmer and his lovely wife Narelle are the owners and founders of Farmers Doors. A proud Gold Coast family business for over 40 years, Farmers is now entering its second generation driven by their five children.
A passionate craftsman who leaves an impression on all those he meets, Christian sat down with Matilda Veneer for a chat about all things veneer.
What do you do at Farmers Doors?
We make cabinet doors, panels, mouldings and posts for fitouts in kitchens and commercial projects. We use American Oak and Hoop Pine veneers pressed on to MDF, balsa board, plywood and other substrates to create an upmarket, classic look, made to appear as if they were solid timber. We cut them, machine them, value-add them, fully paint or polish them, and finally, package them, so they are ready for installation into projects for designers, architects, joiners and cabinet makers. The projects can be kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, retail or commercial. Anywhere really!
We are currently using new materials with three different surfaces, specifically, crown cut American Oak, Matilda Veneer’s Rough Cut American Oak veneers, and also a weathered American Oak to make textured panels. This is very modern and has been very exciting.
What is it you love about what you do?
We love working with natural products. There are so many plastic and melamine products available these days that try to copy natural timber, sometimes very cleverly. This isn’t always a bad thing – it’s great that the timber look is coming back into style and these other products are simply trying to replicate that trend.
Timber is not always perfect, but there is something special about the fact that timber grew out of the earth and we’re embracing it.
Why does timber have an advantage over the manmade, lookalike type products you mentioned?
When people have something installed into their home (Christian makes a point of referring to it as a ‘home’, not a ‘house’) that they’ve paid a lot of money for, they get their hand and they touch and feel it. I’ve discovered a fingertip has over 2,000 sensors, meaning a hand has 10,000 – what I’m saying is that we, as people, are sensitive to touch. Natural timber veneer has a warmth and feel about it that cannot be replicated. It’s not cold like copycat vinyl and melamine. That’s why we love timber veneer; it feels, looks and even smells real.
Is the source of the natural products you use important to you and/or your customers?
Yes. I think it’s very important.
Over four decades, I have seen that it’s become increasingly difficult to get a really good pack of timber. Therefore, utilising natural timber veneer, which we believe is the best of the best of the forest and pressing this expertly onto a renewable substrate, as Sharp Plywood do and who have supplied us for over 30 years, is clearly the best thing to do. It’s a premium product. While perhaps previously the term ‘renewable resource’ was a bit of a catch-phrase, I think now it’s real and the customers want this too. People want something from a responsibly managed forest. They don’t want something that is the product of a pillaged rainforest. People want to feel good about the choices they make and with our products, they do.
I was once told by Sharp Plywood that timber veneer uses 43 times less forest than solid timber, and it looks exactly the same. In fact, it’s a better product, because it’s stable and flat.
Do you have a favourite project that features timber veneer? If so, what makes it so special?
We do a lot of different things here. I’ve always loved our Waratah range, which we’ve used over three decades using crown cut Hoop Pine veneer. More recently, we’re most excited about our Weathered Oak veneers. We visited Euro Cucino (a huge trade show highlighting the latest trends for modern and luxury kitchens) in Milan, Italy and we discovered this new trend highlighting the texture of timber. Here in Australia, the designers and architects haven’t seen it before and when we show them, they love it. It’s great to be ahead of the times. We utilise these textured veneers with the option of 3,600 colours with our waterborne 2-pack paint.
Farmers Doors is a proud user of a number of Matilda Veneer’s products, most notably Matilda’s Rough Cut American Oak veneer and crown cut Hoop Pine veneer.