Ballarat company showcase fruits of labour as they adapt to current climate

When theatres fell dark across Australia in March 2020, the effects were felt through the entire live entertainment industry. Productions ceased and venues closed their doors without knowledge of when, or even if, they might re-open. The impact was felt widely by thousands of companies that contribute both directly and indirectly to the entertainment industry. Having enormous financial implications for all companies great and small, adapting to the current market is the only way to weather this storm.

Victorian-based NJW Designs, established by Nathan J Weyers, is a multifaceted design and manufacturing hub, specializing in all elements of production design, from concept to completion. In the past 12 months, NJW Designs collaborated on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Lion King, Disney’s Frozen, Salome for the Victorian Opera and Anna Karenina for the Australian Ballet.

With specialists across varied industries of design, marketing, project management, manufacturing, safety and automation, the company employs local talent from the community and attracts highly skilled professionals from across Australia. Their daily work was typically filled with imagination and entertainment. A sign of the current climate however, their workshops have gone dark. With the loss of income and inability to express their creativity, very few of the team have been left unaffected financially, physically and mentally.

Quickly identifying the unfolding situation, the team acted swiftly to adapt their core business and began preparing for a show-stopping number to entertain the lost audiences with a functional range of products for the home.

When faced with the reality of 48 scheduled jobs cancelling overnight, that would have employed staff for up to 12 months, we had to think outside the box. Using our machines, staff and skills we quickly got back to work and within a week we had changed our core business from scenery to furniture. Nathan Weyers – Director.

Known in the industry for their initiative, NJW Designs introduced ‘Formed by Function’ – a unique and innovative product range for the home. Designed and made in Ballarat and delivered to your front door in a week, all products are flat-packed and are assembled with no tools in under 2 minutes. For the work-from-home audience, there are sit/stand desks, laptop and monitor stands, and shelving. When it’s time to play the range includes hobby tables, indoor mini-golf, wine racks, and childhood games to keep everyone amused. The range continues to grow weekly with developments in outdoor furniture and beds, along with other exciting ideas born from their audiences’ feedback and suggestions.

With the creation of a brand new web store products sold quickly, enabling NJW Designs to welcome back 9 of its previously released staff, and in fact now increasing production to 6 days a week.

In addition, the business is supporting a now-troubled industry that had rewarded them in the past, with $10 of each sale going to Entertainment Assist, Ballarat Art Foundation and the Actors Benevolent Fund.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked creativity in adapting to a changing climate of audiences. Beyond the virus audiences will always need somewhere to work from home and children will always be doing homework. The products of NJW Designs are formed to function in our everyday lives.

Whilst it is still unknown exactly when NJW Designs will be able to return to business as usual, their resilience and tenacity is a shining example to us all.

Check out their full range of products at www.formedbyfunction.com and support this amazing example of the true Aussie spirit.

Peter J Snee

Peter is a British born creative, working in the live entertainment industry. He holds an honours degree in Performing Arts and has over 12 years combined work experience in producing, directing and managing artistic programs & events. Peter has traversed the UK, Europe and Australia pursuing his interest in theatre. He is inspired by great stories and passionately driven by pursuing opportunities to tell them.

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