MINI Bright Rays

MINI Bright Rays - Red Block On Business.

MINI launched the ‘Bright Rays’ competition last year, which aimed to help emerging fashion and design creatives break into the industry.

500 applications later, the winner was announced – Martin Tauts of Newcastle-based design studio Red Block. He took out the grand prize of a $29,000 business grant, a mentorship session with design heavyweights Koskela, and a MINI Ray for 12 months.

Martin’s emerging design firm has a distinctive aesthetic that merges Scandinavian construction, Japanese minimalism and Australian materials. Run in conjunction with his partner Priscilla Tan, Red Block prides itself on using local materials and suppliers wherever possible.

We recently caught up with Martin to see how winning the MINI Bright Rays competition helped to take his design business to the next-level.

> MINI: What are the main challenges of running a creative business?

Martin: The main challenge of running a creative business is the juggling act of all the various hats you need to wear in order for the business to thrive. Having to stay creative while controlling your cash flow, sourcing suppliers and materials and keeping on top of the administrative necessities has proven a challenge at times.

> What effect has winning the MINI Bright Rays grant had on your business?

Winning the MINI Bright Rays grant gave our business the boost to step into the next level by having more control over the manufacturing process. By having the funds to invest in tools and machinery we otherwise could not have afforded at this stage of the business, we have been able to confidently focus on product development and keeping manufacturing local.

>Tell us about your mentors and the key lessons you learned from them.

Our mentors, Koskela, are leaders in Australian furniture and homeware design. They are also great advocates for social entrepreneurship. We couldn’t have asked for a better match. We learnt the key priorities we should focus on in a start-up creative business, namely the importance of proper and thorough product development.

>What’s next for your business?

As we have invested in a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router to assist with our furniture making, we will be exploring and experimenting new designs and techniques. With our new equipment, we have started venturing beyond custom furniture, working on custom fit-outs and custom kitchens.