Michelle Oser and Ian Small were development workers for 20 years before coming home to Canada. Their last posting was in Indonesia. In fact Ian was one of the first people let into Indonesia after the Tsunami in 2004. When his work there was done and it was time for Ian and Michelle and their children to return to Canada, they decided that they wanted to start a business which would tie them to that side of the world. Furniture seemed to be a natural fit, and teak, a natural choice. However, in order to make it a responsible choice, Michelle only looked at reclaimed or salvaged teak companies. She ended up working with dBohdi, a company that makes furniture out of teak from old homes, bridges and railways. It’s wood that would otherwise end up being burned or dumped into landfill. When they arrived back in Canada (Ottawa, to be exact) they established “ReOrient.”
Using reclaimed teak accomplishes a few objectives; not only does it give the wood a second life, it also prevents it from ending up in landfill or being burned, which would contribute more air pollution and CO2 emissions. The process of converting the old logs into new furniture is labour intensive. Homes, bridges or buildings are dismantled, then nails and hinges are removed from the wood, then local artisans transform the old wood into new, beautiful pieces of furniture. All of these processes employ plenty of people within Indonesia, while at the same time avoiding the use of a lot of heavy machinery. Another advantage of using old wood is that it has already been weathered which means no extra (and energy intensive) kiln drying is necessary. Furniture is all handmade using only hand tools and smaller power tools. All staff are treated ethically and fairly within this company. For more information about the dBohdi company, watch their short video here.
Michelle told me that ReOrient takes certain steps to minimize their operational footprint and give back to the community. It is a member of the 1% for the Planet Alliance, which is a group of companies dedicated to funding environmental not-for-profit organizations around the world. They also do their best to minimize their carbon footprint wherever possible; it usually takes at least one month for furniture to arrive at its destination in Canada as they wait for a shipping container to fill before sending it off. Further, furniture is sent by boat to Vancouver, and from there by train to arrive here in Eastern and Southern Ontario and Quebec. Train travel has significantly lower CO2 emissions than shipping by truck.
The Collections: ReOrient sells three different collections of furniture and two collections of bathroom furniture. Note there is a new, fourth collection of furniture (pictured left), Kasting, but it’s not up on the website yet. The materials are salvaged teak and salvaged metal pipes to give furniture a cool, industrial look.
The Fissure Collection is described as:
The modern Fissure Collection combines smooth with rough-textured wood surfaces. Each item is characterized by a fissure – a split or gap – between two parts of the design, adding an element of surprise and intrigue.
Shapely, curved, baroque style table and accessory legs are not the only distinguishing elements of the Lucy Collection.Different models combine rough with smooth surfaces, while the front panels on cabinets are created from smaller pieces of leftover wood in a collage effect. When you pair these antique-looking tables with the textured surfaces on the modern cabinets, you create quite a statement.
This collection is eccentric! The shapes of these modern designs are angled out on the bottom creating a spatial and playful effect. At the dining table, you get even more space for your chairs, while the cabinets allow you to display larger items on the bottom shelves.
There are two bathroom collections:
The T-Boon Collection is part of our bathroom concept, 4Bath.
The interchangeable modular floating elements, in different sizes and shapes, can be customized to fit any bathroom. Sizes vary from 55cm to 245cm long. The cabinets are available in single and double, with or without drawers and a left or right, soft-closing door system. Our many different marble washbasins add a final touch of elegance.
The YK Collection is part of our bathroom concept, 4Bath.
This collection consists of separate modules in different shapes and sizes varying from 60cm to 240cm long. Mix components together to customize your original design from hundreds of options. Our marble washbasins, depending on the surface finishing you choose, create a rustic or sophisticated look.
Where to buy:
You can view collections directly from ReOrient’s website, but to see the furniture in person, below are stores that carry it, but they are looking to expand to stores across Canada. Visit ReOrient’s website for more information.
2052, du Village Road
120, du Portage Parkway
Gatineau (Hull), Québec
The Cork House
Jelinek Cork Group Showroom
2441, Neyagawa Boulevard
254 King Street East