A company started by a husband and wife team in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken out a gold accolade in the product category of this year’s Good Design Awards for its Australian-made children’s play sofa.
Patrick and Olivia Rudomino founded My NooK in September 2020, after exploring ideas for practical play ideas, inspired by their own children.
The locally-made modular sofas are made from 56 individual parts, which are turned into a set of 10 soft-cushioned pieces that can be reconfigured, and even zipped together, in multiple ways to be used as couches and beds, and to climb and play on.
The product, which retails for $595, comes in a range of 30 colours and fabrics suited to both indoor and outdoor play, and customers can also add on a range of accessories including extra cushions.
Patrick Rudomino tells SmartCompany the business has now sold “north of 10,000” play sofas, which are handmade in the company’s two Sydney factories by a staff of more than 25.
To win in one of the Good Design Awards categories “means an awful lot” and is a credit to this entire team, says Rudomino.
“We have worked extremely hard over the past year to create a fully Australian-made business and we’ve gone from working in our house to working in a factory with more than 25 employees,” he says.
“We would have not gotten this far or won this award without them.”
The Good Design Awards, which are being announced by categories each day this week, received 933 entries this year. Among the other 73 gold accolade winners in the product category are the likes of Samsung, Hyundai and HP.
The jury of the Good Design Awards described My NooK as a high-quality “original and wonderful piece of children’s furniture” that has “endless possibilities for play and imagination”.
“The product is simple and intuitive, well-made and showcases a great colour palette. It’s a brilliant product for kids and parents alike.”
Prior to launching My NooK, Rudomino worked in luxury brand management, including for the likes of Louis Vuitton, while Olivia worked in product buying. The duo have always had a design aesthetic, he says, and they’ve combined their respective skills to create the My NooK brand.
While the company supplies its products to childcare centres and NDIS recipients, Rudomino says 90% of its sales come from consumers directly.
Many of these sales have come via social media, where My NooK has worked with “brand ambassadors” on an unpaid basis to provide reviews and mentions.
Because of the handmade nature of the product, My Nook releases new sofas in batches of 1000, which now sell out within two minutes of orders opening thanks to the brand’s 70,000-strong following on Instagram.
The brand also has a relatively high number of repeat buyers, says Rudomino, with some 40% of customers coming back to buy more items or referring family and friends.
Rudomino agrees the fact the product is made in Australia is appealing to shoppers, but admits setting up manufacturing operations during a pandemic came with a degree of risk.
My NooK’s first factory is located in Blacktown, in one of the local government areas that were subject to tough restrictions during Sydney’s lockdown this year, which could have interrupted production of the sofas.
However, the brand chose to fast track the opening of its second factory in Sydney’s northern beaches, which has allowed the company to maintain a consistent production schedule.
“It worked in our favour but it was still very challenging,” says Rudomino.
To see all the winners of this year’s Good Design Awards, click here.