An Interview with Linda Dekkers and Kathryn Hawkes of Fronteriors
Here at Home Club ME we love a good Ikea hack (and lets be honest, who doesn’t?) so when Dubai based expats, Linda Dekkers and Kathryn Hawkes (better known in the industry as Live Loud Girl and House of Hawkes) joined forces to launch Fronteriors, we were thrilled!
With a long and colourful history of #ikeahacking between them, Fronteriors design a unique and stylish collection of doors, tops and sides to fit IKEA furniture frames. We reached out to the Fronteriors girls and got the chance to speak to them about their love of design, the Fronteriors collection, and how their business went from concept to reality.
Tell us a little about your background and how you entered the world of interior design.
Coincidentally, we both come from marketing backgrounds, but have had a passion for interior design as long as we can remember. This passion turned to full time job when we decided to blog about it. Despite the fact that we didn’t know each other at the time, we started our entrepreneurial journeys at much the same time and have grown our businesses side by side.
Why did you decide to join forces, and what was the inspiration behind launching Fronteriors? Where people shocked at the initial partnership?
We met at an industry event a few years ago and developed a great working relationship and friendship from the start. Even though we are in the same line of business, we have proven that sharing is caring. Being open and constructive with one another has given us both the opportunity to grow.
We would often catch up over coffee to exchange thoughts and ideas and at our first meeting this year, after yet another discussion about upgrading and/or hacking IKEA furniture for clients that required custom carpentry work, and our frustration with the fact that no such products exists ready-made in the market, we decided, pretty much on the spur of the moment, to ‘fill that gap’ ourselves. And just like that, fronteriors came to be!
IKEA has many famous ranges, what made you chose the Bestå and Billy as the base for your products?
In our line of work, we both love mixing design furniture and statement pieces with affordable items. We are big on storage solutions at home and in our projects – and for this purpose, we often use IKEA in our installations. Improving the aesthetic appeal of a standard IKEA piece is always appealing. After many IKEA hacks on both the Billy and Bestå, we decided, based on our own experience that these were the two most versatile and customisable pieces.
As mentioned IKEA hacking is a widely popular concept, what makes Fronteriors unique?
The concept of making ‘custom’ fronts, tops, sides and accessories for IKEA furniture exists widely across Europe and the US. Our primary intention was to offer this concept to the Middle Eastern market – and very specifically, to introduce materials and finishes not yet seen in the #ikeahacking arena. The materials that we selected are the ones that we would like in our own home. We want to really upgrade the IKEA furniture, giving it a more sophisticated look, and making it a somewhat of a design piece.
Who is your target market?
Anyone in the region really who wants to add something special to their home – and who appreciates the ability to ‘play’ with all the options that we offer. We’ve had a client who mixed cane doors with a plywood top – something we hadn’t thought of, and we were astounded at the beautiful result. We’ve also had a client use our cane doors on a wall mounted Bestå cabinet as bedside tables, which we thought was genius. The real selling point is that you can create something unique that fits your home and budget.
Walk our readers through your creative process and how your products come to be.
The whole process of initial design concept through to finished product is still quite new to us and we are finding our way. That said, since launching the business in March, we have released several new products and colours to the range.
We keep a close eye on what is happening in the design world and aim to pinpoint which ‘trends’ will not only have longevity, but will work cohesively with the concept. To date, we have kept the options on materials and finishes fairly limited. We prefer the theory of a few excellent options, rather than a plethora of mediocre choices.
When purchasing a Fronteriors product, can we expect a similar DIY experience as an IKEA piece or what is the “hack” process?
It’s very much like the IKEA process – Fronteriors will send you doors / sides / tops / hardware that you have chosen and the idea is of course to put it together yourself, that is the ‘hack’. However, since this market prefer to have help, we also offer installation as an option with your delivery.
We spotted on your Instagram a recent hack of a bedside table which was not part of your original product catalogue, how flexible are the Fronteriors products to create bespoke pieces?
We encourage everyone to experiment with their own combinations of the components we offer. We’ve already seen some excellent results from clients who’ve put together some unexpected combinations.
You must both have a personal favourite piece from your collection, which is it?
The black cane edition that we showcased for the first time at our recent launch event makes us both very happy. As do the new slatted doors in green and beige. But it’s honestly very difficult to pick a favourite.
Sustainability continues to be a key topic of discussion in interior design. How do you add to the conversation?
Sustainability is very important to us. That is why we want to create furniture that goes a long way. Both of us always work with products that are timeless to ensure that nothing gets thrown out. In our installations we also choose materials that are durable. We believe that investing in (affordable) design is a way to minimize waste and consumerism.
Let’s talk pricing. While IKEA products are staple home pieces that can be found in homes of all budgets, they primarily position themselves as a budget brand. Did this affect your pricing strategy?
We are not a budget brand. We essentially offer custom upgrades as an easy, ‘off-the-shelf’ solution to enhance furniture pieces that you either already have in your home, or that would be affordable to add to your home in order to use our components. We provide a mid-range option that sits between really affordable and high-end design.
What is next for Fronteriors? Any global expansion plans or new product collaborations on the horizon?
There is always a next step – and global expansion has been on the table since day one. However, for now we want to focus on educating the market about the concept and enhancing our e-commerce presence. Watch this space.
And finally, what piece of advice would you give to any of our readers who might be sitting on a great product idea or looking to launch their business here in Dubai?
Go for it. Start today! It is hard work with many highs and lows, but if you believe in your idea, the perceived risks will be worth it!
So what’s next? As the co-founders and creative directors of Fronteriors, Kath and Linda’s promise is to bring the latest interior trends to the market, including many contemporary finishes not yet seen in the hacking arena. We cannot wait to see what these fabulous ladies will bring to the market next!