fbpx

The spectacular story of a signature master craftsman

What’s in a fingerprint?

It’s the unique impression that features all the patterns and ridges that capture and characterise an individual. Most importantly, it’s a signature stamp that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.

Our founder and master craftsman, Adnan Harb, creates custom furniture that is both exceptional and special, and his passion for the natural timber species itself – starts with a story. The story of a master cabinet maker.

Adnan Harb, born in Lebanon, was a boy with a passion. His parents joked that he was born with a hammer and a chisel in his hands.

A young Adnan Harb began working in the cabinet-making industry at just 9 years old.

At just seven-years-old, the young Adnan was making dolls furniture for the five girls in his 11-sibling family, in the small Lebanese village of Halousiye. By nine, he had joined his uncle in his three-man cabinet-making business. His formal cabinetmaking apprenticeship had begun . . . albeit sweeping floors.

In 1977, the 22-year-old Adnan and his 20-year-old brother left their then-politically troubled country for a new life in Sydney, Australia. They brought with them $100 in cash, not a word of English between them, and Adnan’s unrelenting dream to make the very finest furniture of which he was capable.

“I thought we’d arrived in a small village,” Adnan joked, as he reminisced of his first memories in Australia.

While back then there were no big high-rises like the young man was used to, there was opportunity, and Adnan was determined to make the most of it.

“I came for a better life. I didn’t come here to bludge, I came here to make something of myself,” he declared.

PERSEVERANCE PAYS OFF

He persevered through a number of production jobs until he finally landed his first Australian cabinetmaking position in 1979, studying at night to become fluent in the English language. His first big break came soon afterwards, when he was “head hunted” by a French furniture maker (in Sydney), Marius De Franci Furniture.

When that company closed in 1984, Adnan made the run at his big dream. He bought all the plant equipment and took on the lease of the premises. It was a leap of faith. The announcement of the company’s closure was unexpected . . . he went to work one day as a cabinetmaker and came home a business owner. A testament to his unstoppable work ethic and unwavering drive to make quality and beautifully designed furniture.

In the meantime, he had met Helen Torbolov, a commerce student nine years his junior. The young Helen found that she shared not only a romantic passion with the handsome Adnan, but also, to her surprise, a love for fine furniture, stunning timbers and the striking and exotic “works of art” Adnan created.

Helen and Adnan were married just as the buy-out opportunity had arisen.

NATURALLY TIMBER SOARS

Working day and night, Adnan chipped away at building a truly unforgettable enterprise.

“I’d make money then buy a new machine for the workshop and that’s how we grew – make money, buy a new machine – make money, buy more tools…”

His pain-staking efforts paid off, and the Naturally Timber brand became widely noticed.

This is because Adnan and Helen built their business on the founding principle that any furniture created in their workshop would be of uncompromising quality and made using all the traditional techniques of the expert craftsmen from whom Adnan had learned his trade, back in his home country.

At the same time as Naturally Timber was rapidly expanding, so was Helen and Adnan’s family. For some, having four little mouths to feed on top of running one of Sydney’s most popular furniture companies would have felt like a lot of pressure. For Adnan, it was his driving force.

“I didn’t learn enough because I left school very early, so my focus was to put my kids through private school education. Yes, I was working very hard, but I had an amazing wife, and together we worked as a team. It wasn’t about me, it was about them,” he said lovingly of their early days as a young family.


In the early days, master craftsman Adnan and Helen juggled a growing family alongside their growing business.

HUMBLE AND HARDWORKING MASTER CRAFTSMAN

Along with an unrivalled work-ethic and an eager eye for design – an abundance of humility is also a major thread through Adnan’s signature DNA. Not only did he work hard to ensure his children had a better life – extra exertion meant he could proudly bring his parents and other siblings to Australia.

Still, Adnan says it’s not all about taking care of his responsibilities.

“If it was up to me, I’d be making furniture forever.”

“You take a piece of timber and you get that piece of timber and you put it through machinery to dress it, then join it together, then you cut it and you create something spectacular out of it, that becomes part of someone else’s story for generations to come. Every day is something different, from the customers, to the designs to the technology – I love what I do, it makes me happy,” he said passionately.

Techniques, like mortise-and-tenon and dovetailed joints, hand-sanding and hand-finishing – together with the timelessly fashionable look that has come to characterise Naturally Timber – have been directly responsible for the enthusiastic and ever-growing following the brand has enjoyed since its introduction to the marketplace.

AN UNWAVERING COMMITMENT

Both Adnan and Helen are unbending on the fact that Naturally Timber’s “trademark” is and will always be the company’s commitment to using only the highest quality, hand-selected solid timbers (like Western Australian Marri, Tasmanian Blackwood, Victorian Ash, Queensland McKay Cedar, Blackbutt, Western Australian Jarrah, Sydney Blue Gum) and their philosophy that nothing replaces the human touch when it comes to fine furniture. These standards, together with the total timelessness of the designs that carry the brand’s name, are the “pillars” on which the business has been built.

“I am obsessed with making tables to last a lifetime, tables that will become a family heirloom passing down through generations. It makes me proud.”

But it hasn’t always been easy for the high-end Australian furniture makers. Sometimes, sheer hard work couldn’t counteract the changes seen in the fine cabinet-making industry – mainly due to mass-produced furniture shipped from China driving down price and making the environment at times, extremely cut-throat.

The Harb’s solution to this was of course simple – not to compromise.

“You can either buy a suit off the rack or you can get it custom-made by a tailor – we’re the tailor. There are always people who will want a commissioned piece that’s hand-crafted, made to order and can’t be bought anywhere else.”


Since its inception, Adnan and Helen have never wavered from their commitment to quality and craftsmanship.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

However, as the saying goes, all good things do come to an end. After 55 years as a master cabinet-maker, it’s time for Adnan to create his final line.

Using a range of premium woods, paired with striking metal and timber bases, and infused with a contemporary and ultra-stylish design, Adnan’s creations are nothing short of jaw-dropping.

“We’re making these pieces from timber that no one else in the world has, from trees that are hundreds of years old,” said Adnan the master craftsman.

Entwined within its DNA is an imprint of 55-years of hand-selecting, hand-designing and hand-crafting timber that’s been created from a drive to be the best in every sense of the word.

And for generations to come, you will enjoy your custom Naturally Timber piece. Not only in style and design, but also in craftsmanship that cannot be replaced, by a man whose life work is intimately infused into every inch of your masterpiece.

 

Book an appointment with our expert design team, and discover our custom made furniture solutions for all spaces including dining, bedroom, living and office – Click Here.

The family of great and master craftsman

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00
BOOK YOUR FREE DESIGN CONSULTATION