Object stories: Pacific chair by Barber Osgerby

By Penny Craswell

Last night, the new Pacific task chair by Vitra was launched by Unifor/Vitra at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The guest of honour was Edward Barber, one half of British design duo Barber Osgerby, who spoke at length about recent projects.

Pacific Chair by Barber Osgerby for Vitra. Image: Vitra

I caught up with Edward after the talk for a quick chat and to find out what makes the Pacific chair special. First of all, it’s important to understand that the challenge of designing a new task chair is immense. This incredibly competitive market is dominated by a few key companies – for whatever reason, interior designers seem to settle on a few key chairs that they specify over and over again for workplace projects large and small. Read more

26 Original Fakes for Melbourne Design Week

This exhibition text was originally written by Penny Craswell for 26 Original Fakes, an exhibition curated by Dale Hardiman and Tom Skeehan of Friends & Associates as part of Melbourne Design Week.

26 Original Fakes, Melbourne Design Week

Fake furniture takes the original design and perverts it. The image in the magazine might look the same, but the object is fundamentally different – not just in quality, longevity, function and aesthetics, but also in its very essence. What makes the original authentic is stripped away and all you are left with is an empty simulation. Read more

Top 10: Ethical design gift guide

By Penny Craswell

Design isn’t just about aesthetics, and to prove it, this ethical gift guide lists a few of the many designers and brands now donating to charity or committed to ethical practices. So, read on, this is your chance to give back this holiday season – not just to families and friends, but also to those in need.

The Pretty Fly pin by Annie Hamilton. Photo: supplied

1. Increasingly, community-minded makers and sellers are donating a portion of their profits to charities. Sydney-based multi-disciplinary designer Annie Hamilton donates 10% of sales from her pins and art prints to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre to help support and empower people seeking asylum in Australia. With a focus on insects and patterns inspired by plants, including the Pretty Fly enamel pin set consisting of venus fly trap and matching fly, Hamilton’s work also includes clothing and scarves, made locally and ethically in Sydney by a small team of makers in Redfern. Read more

Design and Indigenous Australia: Lucy Simpson and Nicole Monks

By Penny Craswell

As a source of inspiration for designers and architects, Australian Indigenous culture should not be underestimated. At a recent talk on shield carving by Andrew Snelgar and Simon Penrose at the Art Gallery of NSW, I saw first hand the beauty of traditional shields, tools and weapons made by hand. I also learnt about practices such as the harvesting of timber from trees – up to two thirds of a tree can be removed without killing it.


Dhina digital print scarf. Image: courtesy © Lucy Simpson
Dhina digital print scarf designed by Lucy Simpson. Image: courtesy © Lucy Simpson

Two contemporary Indigenous designers drawing on Indigenous Australian traditions in their practices are Lucy Simpson, a textile and graphic designer who sells scarves, textiles, jewellery and objects under the name Gaawaa Miyay, and Nicole Monks, a designer working across art, interiors, fashion, set and surface design (Lucy and Nicole are both participants in the Arts NSW 2016 Indigenous Design Mentorship scheme facilitated by the Australian Design Centre). Read more

Object stories: Sprint chair by Sean Dix

By Penny Craswell

The Sprint chair by Hong Kong-based US designer Sean Dix is a lightweight, stackable chair and stool with a simple profile that belies its complexity. Originally developed specifically for the Bar Veloce, an Italian bar in Beijing, the series was named after the Vespa “Sprint Veloce” which is an Italian design classic.

Sprint chair by Sean Dix for Zenith. Image: supplied
Sprint chair is a stacking chair by Sean Dix for Zenith. Image: supplied

The origins of Sprint as a bespoke design for an interior are characteristic of many of Dix’s industrial design projects since he also runs his own interior design practice and often will design products for an interior that subsequently have a life of their own. For Dix and his team, the opportunity to feed industrial and interior design projects off each other brings many advantages, both creatively and for the business. Read more

Review: Connecting creators at Factory Design District

By Penny Craswell

It was bad luck that the worst storm to hit Sydney in decades happened to coincide with the most exciting new design event to make its debut in the city this year. Factory Design District is the brainchild of Kobe Johns who brought her previous experience on DesignEX and London Design Festival to the event, which ran over three days as part of Vivid Ideas.

Johns now runs joinery workshop JP Finsbury with her partner (in work and in life) Adam Price and envisaged Factory Design District as a way for manufacturers and makers to connect with the design industry and the design-loving public.

Factory Design District, held in Sydney in June 2016. Photo: Fiona Susanto
Factory Design District, held in Sydney in June 2016. Photo: Fiona Susanto

The mission of the event, which included stands by some 30 exhibitors, was to start a dialogue between those people who work in timber, metal, fabric etc. and those who are curious about the process of making, or who may want bespoke or off-the-shelf Australian-made and designed goods. Read more

Interview with Rolf Hay at HAY Sydney store

By Penny Craswell

Rolf Hay visited Australia at the end of January to open the new HAY Sydney store with retail partner Cult. Here is my interview with Rolf Hay on communicating design, the pros and cons of storytelling and what sets Danish design apart.

Penny Craswell: I’m interested in your approach to communicating design, because I’m writing my Masters in Design on design narratives at the moment.

Rolf Hay: To be honest we have always tried to be quite straightforward with communication. I’ve always had problems in wrapping products into stories. Storytelling is interesting if it’s relevant, the question is what is the important information. It’s different when it comes to communication of the brand and the values of the brand. But for products, we try to do as little as possible.

Reception with marble counter, HAY Sydney store
Reception with marble counter, HAY Sydney store

PC: I’m interested in which stories are told about products – and I have been quite critical of the celebrity designer angle.

RH: I totally agree. I think in the fashion industry and the furniture and design industry, a lot of people perhaps feel a little bit insecure in the fancy salons. The design industry has a reputation for being arrogant and hard to get. This has to do with an overload of information and stories behind how fantastic the company is, and how amazing the products are. For us, it’s important when we meet our clients that we meet them with an open and honest attitude. And of course it has been very important that we meet the client with a lot of knowledge about the product – about materials, about production, about environmental issues. For the client it’s less important if the designer had an idea to do this chair when he was at the beach or on the toilet. Read more

Alexander Lotersztain shows QTZ chair in Milan

Argentinian-born, Brisbane-based designer Alexander Lotersztain of Derlot is exhibiting the QTZ chair at Ventura Lambrate as part of the Milan Furniture Fair this week. With a focus on product design, as well as branding, interior design and art direction, Lotersztain is perhaps best known for high profile projects such as the Limes Hotel in Brisbane, creating work that is personal, branded and translates well internationally, following in the footsteps of designers such as Marc Newson. The QTZ chair is a limited edition collection inspired by the form and materiality of quartz.

QTZ by Derlot. Photography: Florian Groehn
QTZ by Derlot. Photography: Florian Groehn

“This limited edition collection of seating elements reflects the prismatic beauty and semi-precious qualities of what is amongst the Earth’s most abundant minerals,” says Lotersztain. Each QTZ element is available in a range of finishes and is manufactured in stainless steel. Read more

Chair meets barrow at Magis with Rogier Martens

By Penny Craswell

Rogier Martens with his Trotter chair at Magis
Rogier Martens at Magis

At the Magis showroom in Milan, I met Dutch designer Rogier Martens who posed with his chair for children, called Trotter, at the Fair the next morning. The chair can be used by small people for sitting, or can be lifted and wheeled around like a wheelbarrow.

In designing it, Martens thought about what he would have liked as a child, and the result is a simple idea, well executed. This chair is part of a series of Magis products for children called Me Too, which also includes iconic design Puppy by Eero Aarnio and Bunky bunk beds by Marc Newson.

More on Magis Me Too.