Montreal, Canada, 2013-10-23 -
Kastella is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. The manufacturer and distributor of high-end contemporary wood furniture has carved out a name in a very competitive sector. Through word of mouth, Kastella has been able to share its passion for wood and highlight its philosophy, which includes ecologically responsible production and customized service to its clientele.
“For us, 10 years is more than a gauge of success,” says Jason Burhop, the founder of Kastella. “It is a sign of acknowledgment by all of our customers who have supported us since the beginning and continue to purchase from us as their needs evolve. It is this support that allows us to continue making local furniture, known for both its quality and its aesthetics.”
The birth of a passion
Jason Burhop, who loves working with his hands, is self-taught. The path to cabinet making, however, was not direct. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, he switched gears and trained in residential construction where he then worked in renovation. Eventually, a client gave him access to his cabinetmaking workshop. At this point, Burhop began to make contemporary wood furniture and, before long, he was single-handedly filling orders.
Burhop quickly realized the importance of a storefront. In 2003, he opened Kastella on Boulevard Saint-Laurent. “I thought that the choice of solid-wood contemporary furniture was too limited in Montreal,” he explains. “In fact, I had already begun to design furniture for my home. The idea of a store naturally sprang to mind, so that I could display my new collections and fill, what I felt, was a gap in the market.”
The spirit of wood
Burhop lets the material speak for itself. He has adopted a formal simplicity that brings out the natural beauty of the wood. The style of his collection is inspired by Scandinavian minimalism, while borrowing from Japanese design, the desire for harmony between the beauty and functionality of objects. Over the last ten years, Burhop has continued to evolve his designs towards greater purity.
Burhop has designed some 60 different furniture pieces since opening the store. The collection now includes 29 pieces, from dining room tables to beds, dressers, and coffee tables. Each piece is unique and handmade in Montreal by one of the Kastella cabinetmakers. The pieces on display in the store represent the company’s standard dimensions and wood species. The advantage that Kastella offers its customers, however, is that the standards can be modified to meet their needs.
Made to measure
Custom manufacturing is an integral part of the company’s philosophy. Aside from a few pieces, which are produced in small series, such as chairs and certain occasional tables, the bulk of the collection is made to order. Clients may choose to modify the pieces by making tables longer, beds wider, or adding drawers to their dressers. Kastella’s reputation for excellence is based on the work of its ten in-house cabinetmakers. These experienced artisans use traditional techniques to express their passion for creating solid wood furniture. They understand how to combine manufacturing quality with a timeless aesthetic.
Despite the production flexibility offered to customers, the quality of the wood species used, the care taken in the manufacturing, and the uniqueness of each piece, the prices remain competitive. As Burhop notes, “We aim to keep our prices affordable and strive to offer quality furniture with an excellent price-quality ratio.”
Kastella’s philosophy is founded on the principles of sustainable development. High-quality manufacturing and a minimalist style that stays away from the latest fads ensures that the collections will endure both physically and aesthetically. In contrast to the ideology of mass consumption, Kastella offers furniture that is made to last.
To minimize the impact of wood harvesting and transportation on the environment, the company uses species from FSC certified forests in nearby regions, most notably the northeast and midwest United States, as well as Canada. In the same spirit, the collection is entirely produced at Kastella’s workshop in Montreal. All subcontracted labour, such as metal work, upholstery and finishing is locally based.
At Kastella, the service reflects the spirit with which each piece is made. As Burhop emphasizes, “When customers come to us, we don’t sell them a piece of furniture, we tell them a story about our love of wood, respect for the environment, and the taste for simple, lasting things.”
Thus, a unique relationship is established with each visitor. Prospective customers are initiated to the different aspects of owning a solid-wood piece: their needs and tastes are discussed, and they visit the workshop. “We end up knowing our customers very well, and it’s not unusual for them to come to the store several times before making their decision,” Burhop notes. This unique personalized service continues after the sale. Even the transportation is not subcontracted; the Kastella cabinetmakers themselves deliver each piece and install it in the client’s home.
This special relationship with clients is so much a part of Kastella’s soul that its founder can envisage expanding the business only by opening fully owned boutiques. “With an independent distributor,” he observes, “we can’t guarantee the same guidance as we do in Montreal.” Burhop has already made sure that he can respond to extra demand by significantly increasing his production capacity. He plans to open more stores in coming years, most notably in Toronto.