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RAW Studios

Creating Furniture of the Future


Reinforced roof structure atop the Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines in the Australian Outback. Courtesy of Advantic.


Designing new working environments with Fusion 360

For Peet van Straaten, founder of RAW Studios, there was a need to introduce South Africa to beautifully designed and crafted office furniture aimed at commercial clients. In 2017, the company was invited to feature its concept of new office spaces and working environments at 100% Design Johannesburg, South Africa. By utilising Autodesk Fusion 360 van Straaten and his team were able to integrate freeform and solid modelling tools to achieve its desired results. This ability for them to prototype quickly and refine designs was crucial to the success of this exhibition, which won Best Office Furniture of the show award.

About the Company

RAW Studios was launched in South Africa in 2005. With a background in environmental design, Peet van Straaten created the company with the intention to develop beautifully designed and expertly crafted office furniture for commercial clients.

RAW specializes in the design, prototyping, testing and production of high-quality furniture and workspace systems that are designed to endure. Its products are built with solid birch plywood from Finland, meaning they are high-quality, yet cost effective for mass production.

While the materials used by RAW Studios are the highest- grade European plywood, RAW found that, unlike their European counterparts, South African consumers were not accustomed to self-assemble furniture. Therefore, the company recognised the need to design component-based but fully assembled furniture in a cost-effective way.

This required a software tool to assist in the full development lifecycle so that strategic design elements could be identified that would help achieve high quality at low cost.

RAW Studios epichub (open)

About the Project

At 100% Design Johannesburg, August 2017, RAW Studios was invited to feature its concept of the new office space and working environments. Using the Autodesk Fusion 360 software package, the team at RAW expanded its existing Epik range to include various designs that illustrate how workspaces can be activated, energized and equipped for meaningful work.

A unique aspect to Autodesk Fusion is that it integrates freeform and solid modelling tools, as well as enables 2D modelling and 3D animation and rendering. These features were central to the development of the Epik range as they provide the capability to prototype quickly and refine designs where needs be.

The Fusion software package also connects the entire product development process in a cloud-based platform, which allows designers to share, review and manage versions seamlessly. Thus, speeding up development & refinement processes exponentially.

The result was a furniture range that was awarded Best Office Furniture Design 2017, at the show 100% Design show.

RAW Studios epichub (closed)

“The Fusion 360 software package enables us to advance our business by developing strategic design elements and achieve cost streamlines, that were previously tedious tasks on the 2D CNC machines.”

Thys Kotze, Production Manager, RAW Studios.

Partner Contribution

Partnered locally with leading Autodesk Gold Partner, Baker Baynes, RAW Studios is an example of innovation and excellence.

Baker Baynes is a consulting company, representing Autodesk, who help professionals design and make a better world. Committed to playing a role in solving Africa’s urbanisation challenges, Baker Baynes is bringing digital transformation to a variety of critical industries. “We have a responsibility to help our customers get ROI from their technology investments, and ideally resulting in better design concepts” says MD, Richard Smedley-Williams.

Recently re-awarded the coveted Autodesk Platinum Club award, Baker Baynes has proven it’s ability to lead its clients into digital transformation.

Time Frame of Project

The new products of the Epik range showcased at the 100% Design show, address the collaborative and break away spaces needed in a workplace. Where people can use the furniture as tools for collaboration, brainstorming, quiet break away or private meetings or calls.

The design process for these products used to take over a year from product development to launch. But since the introduction of Autodesk Fusion 360 - the ability to develop a design in the morning and produce a proto-type by the afternoon - means this production time has been halved, providing obvious advantages to profit margins.


Thanks to Autodesk Fusion 360, the team at RAW Studios can develop a design in the morning and have a prototype ready by the afternoon.

The process begins by the design team identifying the problem to solve or, the idea they wish to explore. Then the team models the idea using Autodesk Fusion 360 which allows for both free form and solid modelling tools that integrate seamlessly. Once the team have decided the best approach to take, thanks to the insights generated from the 3D animation and rendering application, they move to proto-typing some of the complex elements as identified by the simulation software.

At this point in the process the CAM application for turning and milling aides in converting the design to a prototype with 100% accuracy. As the refining and cutting process circles at the last stage on the development lifecycle, the simulation software and CAM application help the team to refine the final product.

RAW Studios epichub (open)


Design is often driven by its limitations. In the past, traditional tools were unable to activate design advances:

Traditional carpentry was challenging in traditional wood materials as they were only available in custom sizes, which wasn’t cost effective – especially when designing non-traditional furniture features.

Until the introduction of Autodesk Fusion, designs had been cut on a CNC machine where the limitation was 2D cutting. In practical terms, this meant designs were cut from the top and repositioned for second side cutting. As such, accuracy was compromised, and wastage often occurred.


Autodesk Fusion 360, has opened doors to a scope of design that was previously very labour intensive on traditional design, modelling and cutting tools:

The cloud enabled platform enables seamless reviews, sharing and version management. Thus, the ability to set and change parameters is improved.

Autodesk Fusion 360 connects the whole development process. Its 3D animation and rendering application along with its simulation software makes whole design process and visualisation much quicker, allowing the team to move straight into machining.

The CAM application for turning and milling applications means that designs are taken to the production phase with 100% accuracy, thereby ensuring no errors or inaccuracies in the cutting phase.

The tools the software offers, enables rapid proto-typing. Allowing the team to create a design in the morning and produce a proto-type by the afternoon.

The 3D rendering application allows the team to show clients’ the rendered quality.

Budget savings / Conclusion

Creating expertly crafted office furniture that is designed to endure can be expensive. However, the introduction of Autodesk Fusion 360 has helped the team at RAW Studios work with greater accuracy, information and integration, all of which have helped them to accelerate innovation. The rapid proto-typing means the weighting of design versus production has shifted entirely and the team can increase production.

The accuracy provided by Fusion 360 means the team have realised savings in terms of reduced material costs due to far fewer changes during prototyping, an increase in production thanks to a streamlined design process and, the cloud platform integration has enabled the team at RAW to engage effectively in a dynamic business style that accelerated their business growth.

Savings achieved through less wastage and increased productivity and accuracy have been realised across the business.

RAW Studios epichub (open)

“Autodesk Fusion 360 has contributed to the capability of our business in terms of productivity and quality, and it has the potential to do so for many other design businesses. The growth of small design businesses is critical to the growth of the economy in South Africa.”

Thys Kotze, Production Manager, RAW Studios.

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