We're 25! Get to know Cult
This month marks an important anniversary for Cult, as we celebrate our 25th birthday! To commemorate this significant milestone, we sat down with our Founder and Director, Richard Munao, to debrief on a handful of his most significant memories from the past quarter of a century.
1997First showroom opening in Chippendale, Sydney
When I established Corporate Culture (now Cult) in early 1997, I was driven by the desire to distinguish my new venture from the many other furniture suppliers at the time, who focused mainly on workstations and task chairs. Corporate Culture offered loose furniture, through which companies could portray the culture and story of their brand. Six months after starting the business, we opened the doors at 21-23 Levey Street, which was the first Corporate Culture showroom in Australia.
1997-2002Erik Jorgensen, Fritz Hansen and Carl Hansen
Erik Jorgensen (now Fredericia) was the very first brand available from Corporate Culture, followed by Fritz Hansen in 1999 and Carl Hansen in 2002. Having these established Danish design brands under the Cult umbrella spring-boarded our reputation for housing the best in Scandinavian design and became fundamental in establishing the Danish DNA that we are known for today.
2000First Corporate Culture showroom in Melbourne
After a successful start in Sydney, we expanded our showroom offering, opening our first ever retail space in Melbourne. Our 400sqm Flinders Lane showroom was designed by Pike Withers and the launch saw hundreds of designers, architects and media come together to celebrate.
2002HAY launches in Milan
I remember seeing the HAY exhibition and meeting Rolf Hay at Superstudio during Milan Design Week. Straight away I knew that this brand was going places. It was HAY’s first exhibition and the stand was completely black with brightly coloured furniture, quite far removed from the HAY aesthetic that we are familiar with today. Our reputation with Danish design was well established and I felt HAY represented a new Nordic approach that would complement our existing offering. Just before I was due to return to Sydney, I ended up cancelling my flight and instead booked a trip to Copenhagen where I went straight to HAY’s flagship store to speak to Rolf. We ended up becoming the first HAY distributor outside of Europe, and the rest is history. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
2006Establishing Cult New Zealand
Despite being a smaller market, New Zealand’s design industry had always been mature so expanding our offering to the NZ market made sense. In the early days, we shared our showroom space with Designer Rugs.
2009Welcoming renowned Italian brands to our collection
We had a strong reputation for representing the best Danish design brands in the world and that included Fritz Hansen, Erik Jorgensen, Carl Hansen and Louis Poulsen. We were thrilled when Cappellini, Cassina and Poltrona Frau joined our collection in 2009 as we were expanding into the residential market and this really grew our offering. With our new international portfolio, we really were a full-service design house offering something for every single room in the home.
2011Princess Mary and Prince Frederik of Denmark opening the new Cult Melbourne showroom
After outgrowing Flinders Lane and welcoming many more brands to the Cult portfolio, it was time to relocate our showroom. In 2011, we opened the doors to our current Elizabeth Street showroom, which was designed by DesignOffice. In honor of our service and dedication to Danish design, Prince Frederick and Princess Mary of Denmark came to cut the ribbon. My children joined us for the celebration and presented them with gifts.
2014Launching our first Australian collection – AG x Cult
With an established reputation for housing the best in international design, I felt it was time to hero Australian design talent. In 2014, AG x Cult was born – a capsule collection of Australian designed, Australian made pieces by acclaimed local designer Adam Goodrum.
2016Opening HAY Sydney
We joined forces with HAY in 2013 as one of the first retailers to commit to supplying the brand outside of Europe. HAY went from strength to strength in Australia and the brand was growing rapidly, so we decided to open the first dedicated HAY shop south of Shanghai. The official opening in 2016 brought co- founder Rolf Hay to Australia – a real milestone in Cult/HAY history.
2014-2016The Chairity Project
The Chairity project was an annual charitable initiative that ran from 2014 to 2016 and it is an initiative that I am most proud of. We invited leading Australian creatives from a variety of industries to bravely reinterpret an iconic chair design. The final pieces were exhibited nationwide and sold at auction, with all proceeds donated to charity. Extending our reach beyond our core design community was such a rewarding experience for Cult; the support and enthusiasm that each creative, partner and bidder brought to the project was humbling. I’m thrilled that we are bringing the program back this year in 2022.
2017Taking Australian design to the rest of the world
Our product development arm grew significantly after the launch of AG x Cult and it became time to establish these designs as one brand. From this, nau was born – a contemporary Australian design brand offering furniture, lighting and accessories by a collective of Australia’s most talented designers. nau made its global debut at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York.
2017Celebrating our 20th anniversary
Milestones should always be celebrated and our 20th anniversary was a significant one. A huge party at our flagship showroom in Chippendale commemorated the occasion and we were joined by friends, partners, clients and colleagues who had been part of our 20-year journey.
2019nau at the Opera House
The nau brand has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2016, with products placed in some of the most esteemed architectural projects Australia and around the world. The location that I am most proud of has to be the Opera House, for which we created the Molloy armchair by Adam Goodrum – a piece that remains in our collection to this day.