Since graduating college in the nineties, Burke has had a passion for architecture and design. Before establishing Designform Furnishings in ‘08, he worked for a developer designing and building hotels and restaurants. Gaining valuable skills, he moved on to work for a large restaurant chain as their head of design and construction. Having such a prevalent role for the company, he was exposed to a great deal in the industry and learned that there weren’t many options in procuring commercial furniture. Anything that was available had the gift of drab and no flair for creativity. At this point, Burke took note of these observations and continued to plug away at his 9-5 working mostly in the hospitality sector.
Staring down the barrel of the economic crisis, Burke saw opportunity in 2007. The company he worked for could not continue to develop new restaurants and soon wouldn’t be able to afford to keep his department. Staying ahead the inevitable, he crafted a plan that would benefit him and the company that had provided him the opportunity for so much growth. The strategy was to establish his own consulting company with the understanding that they would hire him back on a per-job basis. Once launching his consultancy and having a huge client on-board, he leveraged this to pitch the same idea to other restaurant companies that were finding themselves in a similar situation.
One of his clients owned a family-style restaurant and had a problem: an obtrusively overpriced dining chair. It wasn’t a high-end restaurant where they could justify the cost of the chair and, in need of a solution, the restaurateur asked Burke if he could find a more cost-effective product. Burke dove in, and after some research, came to the realization that the synergy of those two ideas didn’t exist. Being an innovator in the industry, he knew there should be a solution.
With an understanding of how sterile the products in the industry were, he also knew who his audience was. Burke identified that he could create a product to tick more boxes than just being someplace to sit while grabbing drinks after work or waiting to check-in at a hotel. Considering each time someone goes out as an experience, he chose to set out to find a steel fabrication company to build a design of his creation and heighten the customer experience. After weeks of welding, re-design and sleepless nights, Burke and the fabricator developed a product to fit an aesthetic and price-point that placated the client.
With that creation, Burke established Global Source Industries in 2007. Designform Furnishings came about to answer the call of a new market. With the large chain restaurants losing ground and closing locations, it opened up a new opportunity for small, chef-owned restaurant concepts. The owners of these small, new concepts were doing everything from assisting in the design to purchasing their materials…including furniture. The setback was they didn’t have the time or budget for custom designed furniture, which was what Global Source Industries was established on. They needed something that could easily be ordered with a selection of a color and finish. Designform Furnishings was the product line aimed to bridge that gap.
In 2008, Burke opened the figurative doors to Global Source Industries, first operating out of his home. He realized a neighborhood was no place for a 40’ truck to deliver, and rented his first warehouse in Costa Mesa, measuring 750 square feet. Several expansions later, Global Source Industries and Designform Furnishings landed in Irvine to a 28,000 square foot building, where they call home today. They also operate a small distribution facility out of Vancouver, Canada to serve the clients north of the border.
Undoubtedly, a lot has changed since Burke created that first product. One thing he hasn’t wavered on was creating striking, attention-grabbing products with clean lines that would welcome the eye and intrigue purveyors for more. People don’t go to a restaurant for the chairs, but to be enriched by the experience that’s evoked. Side-by-side with great design (and great food), the goal is for the products to complete the picture of what a dining experience should be.
After ten years and 400 products later, the picture has been broadened from chairs and stools to lounge chairs, sofas, tabletops and bases. In a short time, Global Source Industries has accomplished great things and couldn’t have done it without each and every one of their clients.