How we design and manufacture popular nursery furniture

How we design and manufacture popular nursery furniture

Welcome to the third instalment of our ‘Behind-the-Scenes' series, where we discuss all things baby and toddler with an expert in their respective fields. 

In our previous expert profiles we have explored how we design popular products like the BabyRest DuoCore cot mattress with Bryce, as well as manufacture them right here in Melbourne with Mai. 

Have you ever wondered how BabyRest cot and chest duos like the iconic Tommi or Kaya are made? Well, today we are proud to introduce Warren, who takes us behind the scenes and talks us through the process of researching, designing, and manufacturing the high-quality, statement nursery furniture pieces that BabyRest is known for.  

Tell us a bit about your role and what you enjoy most about New Product Development.

As someone with a keen eye for quality, I really enjoy my role in Product Development, along with its fair share of challenges. My previous experience in manufacturing chairs, coffee tables, and similar products has given me the skills to be effective in this role. 

My main responsibility is to bring new designs and product ideas into our business, and then after they are vetted by the team, we go through the process of industrial design, quality and compliance testing, then production. What I find most rewarding is seeing the positive results that come from our hard work. Recently, one of our cot models was released in a chain of 70 stores, and we received feedback that it was the easiest cot to assemble, with no issues in the first manufacturing batch. 

“It's a great feeling to know that our customers appreciate the quality and attention to detail that goes into every BabyRest product, and I'm thrilled to be a part of the team that makes it happen. 

The BabyRest brand has been providing innovative nursery essentials for Aussie parents since the 1970s. How does it feel to be building upon that legacy and designing new products to expand the BabyRest portfolio? 

It’s great to be part of a team. My father started the business and I am thankful for his concern to provide for his family. I purchased the business in the 1990s and with the same vision, was able to include my family who now have their own children. I think the family element keeps traditional values of care and responsibility flowing through and keeps that culture of interest and support continuing. Designing new products is imperative to continue that legacy and keeping in face of ever-changing trends.  

We chose to manufacture as much as possible here in our own factory in Melbourne. Whilst some products may be cheaper to import, we do all we can to support Australian-made as it means a lot to us to support employment here. We are charity-minded persons and it means we can support our goals to this end. Part of supporting Aussies is ensuring that every product is made to the highest possible standard so that they can be used and loved by families for years to come. 

Do you remember the very first product you designed? How did it feel when you saw it come to life?

The first product I designed that we manufactured ourselves was at the turn of the century. It included a range of baby cot sheet sets in colours that were not available here. It was a great feeling to see this “Aussie Made” product come to life, especially in that we were able to offer something unique to the market. It wasn't long before we started making our respected changing mats, which was a real boost when we were able to give work to an extra 12 people. Not only that, but the fault rate was around 0.2% in a market that was experiencing a rate up to 20 times that, which showed that our values were tangible.  

What sets BabyRest furniture apart from other pieces available on the market? 

At BabyRest, we're dedicated to creating the safest possible sleeping environment for babies, and rest and reassurance for their parents. What sets our pieces apart from others on the market is our commitment to quality and safety. We test our products to standards that are more rigorous than industry requirements to ensure that new parents can trust in their furniture. From the type of raw materials we use, to our hardware, paint, and assembly instruction methods, every aspect is carefully considered to provide a safe and seamless experience for families. 

We also prioritise sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices. Our furniture is crafted from sustainable timbers, and our facilities comply with social economic policies. This approach allows us to not only create safe, beautiful and functional furniture but also reduces our impact on the environment. 


Warren standing with some of the cots and chests he helped design


Safe sleep is one of any parent’s biggest concerns when it comes to their little one. How does this influence or factor into the BabyRest design process? 

It influences every decision our team makes. During the design phase, our Product Development team works collaboratively to ensure that our furniture reflects current trends without compromising on safety or quality. For example, when designing a cot, we ensure that the length of the legs is not too long, so that the minimum depth of 600 mm above the base is maintained. This helps prevent babies from climbing out and falling, while also ensuring that the cot sides are not too high and making it difficult to put baby to sleep. We also ensure each cot base has plenty of ventilation to allow airflow into the mattress and prevent mould development. The paint must comply with safety standards. There must be no chips in the timber and corners on the edges must be smooth. 


In addition to safe sleep, what are the key considerations when you are designing a new nursery product? 

Our goal at BabyRest is to create nursery furniture that not only prioritises safe sleep, but also offers longevity and functionality beyond the baby years. We design our furniture to meet the tipping tests for chest of drawers and ensure that our chests can be used for a long time after the baby outgrows the cot. Likewise, our convertible cots can be easily transformed into cot beds, providing a practical and cost-effective solution for growing families. 

When sourcing materials, we prioritise quality, sustainability, and safety. We look for materials that are durable, environmentally friendly, and non-toxic. For example, we use high-grade timbers and MDF veneers to reduce the amount of natural timber used and prevent warping. Additionally, we also strive to use non-toxic paints and finishes to ensure the safety of our products. 

To enhance the user experience for Aussie families, we incorporate soft close drawers and German-made, quality runners that provide a smooth and silent closing motion. Our furniture is designed to be easy and enjoyable to use, with a focus on superior quality that lasts for years to come. 

BabyRest has released nursery furniture that speaks to a range of popular design trends, from Scandi, to Mid-Century Modern, to Boho. Where do you look for design inspiration and what do you predict to be seeing more of over the next few years?

We like to use designs that are in-line with international trends. As we come from varied backgrounds, we offer a range of styles to make it easier for parents to choose their preferred nursery pieces. 

There is a move at the moment towards natural timber, whether in nice warm, lighter stains or darker and deeper colours. We are loving that earthy genuine finish that brings out the natural hues of timber and emboldens the variety in the grains. Neutral wall colours are definitely here to stay, and timber furniture complement this inviting look. The additional elements of modern hardware accessories bring this style right up current with present-day parents. 

What do you think are the most important (or most overlooked) features new parents should look for when investing in a cot or chest for their nursery?

Parents should think about safety and practicality first. All cots need to meet the standards, but many parents don’t think enough about the mattress their babies sleep on. This is one of the most important safety decisions parents-to-be will make, especially as babies up to 65% of their first 12 months sleeping. Practicality-wise, it’s best to choose a lightweight mattress that can be easily made; too many parents struggle to lift unnecessarily heavy mattresses. 

For the cot, look for one that has an adjustable base for the first few months’ use. Before buying, make sure you are comfortable with the height of the cot sides and that you would be able to pick baby up ok. Check that the base is strong and has enough air movement. Does the cot and chest fit into your nursery well, leaving enough space to look after baby?  

For the chest, many parents forget to see if it meets the tipping test. This will normally mean the chest is heavier than others. Soft close drawers are great to make it easier to close with one hand, while also keeping noise levels down so you don’t wake baby. Ensure you are happy with the drawer configurations and that it can fit everything you need to inside. Finally, it’s really important that the chest has the correct hardware to be attached securely to the wall (and that you do it). 



Close up of Warren's hand touching the Kaya chest in white, highlighting the intricate craftsmanship


Walk us through the typical design process of bringing a new product to life. 

We start by discussing any new design ideas in our team meetings to ensure it aligns with the BabyRest vision and strategy. If approved, this would be drafted into a render to use for market research and sourcing. Depending what type of finish and structure is required, we would then work out which country is best to source from. Different materials are available in various parts of the globe, and different qualities are achievable from different factories. From there, samples are made for quality and standards testing. Once approved, the Sales and Marketing teams are brought on board to establish the most appropriate strategies to bring the new product to market. 


Many BabyRest products are made in Australia - why do we not manufacture furniture here as well? How do you ensure the quality of materials and manufacturing when items are made overseas?   

The furniture industry has become very challenging in recent years. Baby furniture was mostly made here in Australia up until around the turn of the century. These days however, Australia has some of the highest minimum wages in the world, making it very difficult for small businesses to be competitive with products shipped in from international factories that are able to produce higher volumes and manufacture at a much cheaper rate.  

Finding the sweet spot of high-quality products that Australian families can still afford required us to look to manufacturers overseas, which we regularly visit. Both raw materials and paint finishes need to meet certain grading and standards for our furniture. Consequently, each batch is quality checked by both internal and external quality control systems. This provides confidence in the quality of our products. 


What do you think are the benefits of choosing Australian-designed nursery products for parents? 

A culture is difficult to learn without living there, and Australia has a distinctive one that is increasingly multicultural. Being Australian ourselves, we have a unique insight into what Australian families value and what their lifestyles look like. We value quality, strength and design that could be placed anywhere in the world, even though it is particularly designed for Australian parents. We understand local standards and we understand sustainability – everything an Australian parent values in a product is built into our culture. 


How does being both a parent and grandparent yourself impact the way you design nursery products for safe sleep? 

There is nothing like using a product that we have designed ourselves. This gives us the opportunity to ‘road test’ whether a product will be up to the mark for other consumers through firsthand experience. From assembling cots to re-assuring babies at 2 am, and changing the sheets every week, we have done it all. My children now have that opportunity which brings us up to date with the market and current professional research. We like to find solutions to issues parents have and then test them ourselves before releasing. 


Finally, which product have you been most proud of seeing come to life and why?  

The very first shipment of nursery furniture we had designed was the Tommi Cot and ChestBoth items instantly became winners. The feedback from stores and consumers was fantastic. When I visited one store, I asked why it was so successful. The answer was, “try and pick the cot up”. The strength, stability, smooth paint finish and style was so different to the other models on the floor that it was a ‘no brainer’ for parents. Sitting next to other brands, I could then tangibly see and feel the difference. The drawer runners were so easy and smooth. Not often is the first production that well received.  


Warren stands proudly in the showroom with a range of pieces he helped bring to life


Shop the BabyRest furniture range:  


Anstel has a team of passionate expert representatives. Get in touch with us today with any questions about your nursery sleep essentials.   


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