Object Stories: Toku furniture by Gavin Harris

By Penny Craswell

The production and sale of Australian design by Australian furniture retailers continues its magnificent rise with the release of several new ranges this year, including Toku, a furniture collection designed by Sydney-based Gavin Harris for Schiavello.

Toku designed by Gavin Harris for Schiavello. Image: Schiavello

The range is low-lying, available in a range of materials, most prominently a blonde or coloured timber and upholstery including some soft secondary colours, marking the move away from the bold primaries that used to dominate the workplace – almost playground-like in their bold colours and shapes as if we were not adults after all. Read more

Object stories: Etched memories by Penelope Forlano

By Penny Craswell

The work of Perth-based designer Penelope Forlano explores memories, heirlooms and intergenerational meaning. En_Case (Engraved Casegoods) is a modular furniture piece with a series of patterns laser engraved to form texture on timber. These patterns act as visual snippets of memory; new combinations can be selected from a wide range of patterns to create a personal, customised version.

Hong Kong pattern by Penelope Forlano engraved on timber. Read more on The Design Writer blog
Hong Kong pattern by Penelope Forlano engraved on timber. Image: supplied

For this particular piece, Forlano conducted an interview with a family about their personal and ancestral past, going back as many generations as they knew about. Recurring or overlapping themes and stories, including significant places and experiences, were then translated into patterns. 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

Object stories: Softly sofa by Nick Rennie

By Penny Craswell

Melbourne designer Nick Rennie was recently in Paris where French design brand Ligne Roset launched his latest design at Maison & Objet – the Softly sofa. For Nick, the sofa is really about comfort, creating a compact shape with high cushions that provide effective support while being extremely comfortable.

Softly sofa by Melbourne designer Nick Rennie for Ligne Roset. Photo: supplied
Softly sofa by Melbourne designer Nick Rennie for Ligne Roset. Photo: supplied

“The idea came from placing a number of cushions together vertically to form the sides and the back of the sofa,” says Rennie. “It has quite a high seat level as well, so its super easy to get up from. And the higher back and sides also have a little flex to them and yet retain their stiffness, which allows great support.” Because of its compact size, the sofa is much more flexible than many other options. Read more

Review: Scented Intoxication exhibition by Lyn and Tony

By Penny Craswell

Lyn Balzer and Tony Perkins are a Sydney-based photography and designer/maker duo with an international sensibility, whose works are nevertheless deeply rooted in Australia. Their new exhibition at Sydney’s Australian Design Centre, called Scented Intoxication, features works made from a range of materials in two simple colours: black and white. But it is scent that is the most extraordinary feature of this exhibition.

Gallery view, Scented Intoxication. Photo: Australian Design Centre
Gallery view, Scented Intoxication. Photo: Supplied by Australian Design Centre

When you enter the exhibition space, it hits you right away, a beautiful, heady perfume that is not sweet or perfume-like in the traditional sense, but is reminiscent of burnt wood or native Australian vegetation or both. Lyn and Tony worked with French-born Australian-based Elise Pioch Balzac of Maison Balzac to create two scents for two scented candles: L’Obscurite (darkness) is a black candle with a scent inspired by one of Lyn and Tony’s photographs of a sea cave in Kiama NSW. Elise interpreted the image in a scent inspired by volcanic rocks using tree resin, birch tar and red cedar. The other scent is L’Etrangete (strangeness), a white candle with a scent inspired by another photograph by Lyn and Tony, this time of a waterfall in a lush rainforest. Elise interpreted this image of sunlight in greenery as a scent with lemon myrtle, native ginger and hemp. Read more

Stash desk: Furniture design by Blu Dot

By Penny Craswell

I discovered Blu Dot while searching for a new desk for my home office. Using that most basic of tools – Google shopping search – I found many ugly pieces of furniture and many prohibitively expensive pieces of furniture. But I also some beautiful and more affordable options around – and the best for my room size and aesthetic was Blu Dot.

Stash desk by Blu Dot
Stash desk by Blu Dot


Designed in Minnesota, the brand was founded in 1997 by John Christakos, Maurice Blanks, and Charlie Lazor in response to their own need for affordable design furniture (read more of their origin story here). Perhaps because they were designing for a practical need, that’s what they created – practical furniture; while it looks great, I get the feeling that the aesthetics are secondary to the function, which is as it should be. What’s also interesting about their furniture is the small scale of it – it suits inner city living. 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

Infographic: Multi-functional furniture design

The design team at Chicago-based Ghergich & Co (which produces visual content such as this great infographic), has teamed up with CustomMade (which teams customers who want one-of-a-kind creations with makers of those goods) to create an article on multi-functional furniture design. The post is written by J.H. Fearless, a blogger and writer whose work explores the intersection of art, nature and culture.

Multifunction furniture article, graphics by
Multifunction furniture article, graphics by Ghergich & Co.

“When is a chair not a chair? When it’s a bookshelf, or a table, or a wall panel, or a phone charger! The multifunctional furniture renaissance is here, and it brings seemingly endless ways to reimagine not only furniture’s function, but its form as well. Read more

Design writings: Customisation and collectible editions in design

Design writings: Customisation and collectible editions in design

“This dichotomy points to a shift in the design market in two quite distinct directions – that is, the embrace of digital production allowing for more responsive, ‘co-designed’ products within an essentially mass-production process, or limited edition commissions that present design as a highly collectible commodity parallel to the art market.”

Fleur Watson’s article in the Saturday Paper explores customisation, collectible editions and the appeal of storytelling in design through topics from Marc Newson’s appointment at Apple, through to Libby Sellers Gallery in London and the Broached Commissions limited edition designs.

Read the full article here.