Sydney furniture startup Recess is redesigning the way we work in hybrid offices

- July 13, 2022 3 MIN READ
The Nook soundproof booth by Recess
Sometimes a great idea all comes down to design. There are plenty of smartphones in the market, but plenty of people are drawn to the iPhone and pay a premium, because of great design.

And so it is for sustainable office furniture startup Recess.

The Sydney-based venture launched its new ergonomic office furniture line six months ago, with a focus on fitting out work-from-home with its core range of stand-up desks, chairs and accessories.

But one idea cofounders had back in 2019 has been a game-changer for Recess.

Fans of ’60s spy comedy Get Smart know the soundproof booth is not a new idea, but they took the idea to the next level with The Nook, which won an Australian Good Design Award for its “integration of sustainable materials and high function design”. 

The Nook is a fully ventilated and equipped with a desk, whiteboard, power sockets and LED soft lighting. It’s delivered and assembled in less than 60 minutes without needing hardwiring and is made from FSC-certified timbers and insulated with recycled plastic bottles. 

The idea for their startup was first conceived on a hiking trip in Tasmania, as the pair were fed up with working in open plan offices without any private spaces to take a phone call. The Nook was the result. They launched as Nook in early 2020 after 12 months of design and prototyping.

The of course that pandemic rocked up. Despite offices being mostly empty, the pair sold their limited supply of Nook’s into high growth startup offices, such as Eucalyptus, Prezzee, Unyoked, Qwilr and Dovetail.

Recess cofounders Will Chambers and Scott Ellice-Flint

Hand-delivering them personally gave the Recess cofounders a chance to speak with their customers and hear first hand what other problems they faced with their offices spaces. The most common complaint was that purchasing office furniture sucked, and for early-stage startups it was expensive.

From Nook to Recess

Armed with fresh insights Chambers and Ellice-Flint  knew their next step: expand Nook to Recess — office furniture that helps companies and their employees build a good-looking hybrid office that doesn’t cost the earth.

They raised $1 million at the end of 2021, led by mostly angels and private investors.

“The raise enabled us to make the right hires, launch new products and build technology around the furniture and other inventory alike, so there is a new way to purchase, deploy and manage this inventory without the supply chain and management headaches,” Chambers said.

As Australians began to return to the office, while maintaining a WFH approach too, Chambers and Ellice-Flint launched Recess in February amid a resurgence of interest in their soundproof booths. Sales have tripled in the last six months.

Overall sales have doubled month-on-month since launch.

The company’s furniture line includes ergonomic chairs, standing desks, workstations for teams, filing cabinets, conference room furniture and space division. Prices range for chairs between $250 and $400, desks from $500 to $2500.

Chambers said the sweet spot for the company’s products is a business with between 20 and 200, employees and customers telling their office managers about the furniture is a key driver. 

“We’re also getting business from property landlords looking to pre-furnish their spaces,” he said.

“With more and more employees starting to head back to the office, Recess hopes to capitalise on the need for more affordable and flexible furniture solutions in the new world of hybrid work.”

He sees Recess’s technology interacting in two ways.

“One is on the employee side, including ergonomics and a smoother purchasing experience that gives customers guidance on how to set up their chair or desk,” he said.

“On the enterprise side, the company has seen a gap in ways that office managers can manage their office furniture – both for their headquarters and employee WFH setups; for example, reporting damages or floor space configuration.”

To find out more see recess.com.au