Great Dane is Australia’s eminent curator of Scandinavian furniture and lighting. Established in Melbourne in 2002, our unbridled passion for timeless Scandinavian design has seen us establish an inimitable reputation for quality, service, craftsmanship and knowledge.
Over the years, Great Dane has built a number of strong partnerships with celebrated Scandinavian manufacturers and designers. We have contributed to the awareness of Scandinavian design in Australia, and thrive on sharing this knowledge with customers and collectors via our distinguished, hand-picked ranges.
Personally chosen by founder Anton Assaad, this hands-on approach to buying affords integrity, maintains authenticity and ensures that our customers have access to the very finest furniture and lighting ranges available. Comprising Australia’s most extensive range of classic and contemporary Scandinavian pieces, the breadth and depth of our showroom collections is only surpassed by their sheer quality and exclusivity.
THE GREAT DANE STORY
Great Dane was founded by Anton Assaad in Melbourne in 2002. Inspired by a love of classic Danish design instilled in him as a boy and motivated by a relentless passion to share this with customers, Great Dane’s first incarnation saw Anton importing crates of hand-picked vintage furniture from Denmark.
The success of selling vintage furniture allowed Anton to seek out late furniture maker Arne Vodder, to propose putting some of his designs back into production. Driven by a desire for absolute product integrity, Anton approached Vodder directly by writing a hand-written letter, and it was the start of an enduring friendship right up until his death in 2009. As Anton tells it:
“I’ve been so privileged to work with design legends like Arne. After initially keeping contact over letters and then emails, some six months later I found myself in Copenhagen talking with Arne in a Copenhagen hotel lobby. It was a surreal moment for me, and the first of many more meetings during my trips. I have such fond memories of sipping limoncello and eating lunch in his studio as we delved deeper into talking about Scandinavian design and its renaissance in which he played such a part. He was always dressed impeccably in a white safari suit, and was easily one of the coolest and most relaxed people I’ve ever met”.
Arne Vodder would play a massive part in turning Great Dane into the eminent curator of Scandinavian furniture and lighting it is today, but he wasn’t alone. In the years that followed, as Great Dane transitioned from a vintage re-seller to a fine curator of classic and contemporary wares, Anton would reach out to and form friendships with designers as varied as Kai Kristiansen, designer of the Entre range and Kai #42 Dining Chair, to Mads Johansen, the brilliant young designer of the Johansen Table, whose life was unfortunately cut short by Motor Neuron Disease. Anton again:
“In the first five minutes of meeting Kai, he told me the story of another designer who tried to stop one of Kai’s chairs from going into production as Kai was not worthy. He then turned to me and said “well 60 years later, the other designer is dead and here I am seeing my chair go back into production!” I think he’d been waiting 50 years to tell that story, and to be there for it was this hilariously genuine moment…but of all the designers we’ve had the fortune of working with, Mads Johansen is surely one of the most talented, particularly for what he achieved at such a young age. Did you know that Mads invented and had registered a patent on a completely new way of joining wood? I could go on like this for days, but these wonderful stories are at the core of everything we do here at Great Dane and a massive part of what this business is really about”.
More recently, 2018 marked a huge year in the history of our business. The products that Great Dane has accumulated exclusive rights to over the years, including Illum Wikkelso’s Australia Sofa and Kai Kristiansen’s aforementioned Entre series, were taken over to Copenhagen and put on show at Denmark’s leading furniture and design fair, 3 Days of Design. Despite initial apprehension as to how an Australian showcasing classic mid-century Danish furniture to Danes would be received, Anton was overwhelmed with the response:
“Maybe another quote here about how much everybody enjoyed seeing someone from the other side of the world taking such pride in the history of Danish furniture”
2018 also saw Great Dane take on our most ambitious project to date, moving our old Sydney showroom from Redfern to a new three-storey location on Oxford St Paddington. The showroom, titled A Voyage Through The Forest, evokes the experience of being in a Scandinavian woodland. A dense ground floor experience, with rich green carpets and Tarnsjo Garveri leather accents, eventually makes way to a bright and airy top floor with abundant natural light. It marks the business’ first true experiential retail for Great Dane clients, and is a marker for the ambition of the business going forward.