Designer of the Month
Perth, WA, Australia
Not only does our furniture bare witness to the run around of our daily lives but also guides, engages and inspires each moment. An expansive table welcomes in a long awaited homecoming or a desk shifts walls to honour a new start. The embellishments with which we decorate our spaces soak in the memories we share with them, transforming into everyday relics of past times and dear people. The emotional weight of furniture and objects is not lost on up-and-coming designer Jack Flanagan. Growing up in the Perth Hills, Jack was an exacting creator studying engineering before settling into industrial design at the Central Institute of Technology, Perth. Melding old-world hand-worked techniques with modern manufacture, each item displays the utmost care of the maker, conceding to the emotional density dormant in each piece. Jack’s projects, spanning from playful lighting to elegant stool designs, express an aesthetic that is simultaneously interesting and comfortable. Experimentation permeates his practice with each item ignited as a conceptual design from which jack has to work backwards, testing creative manufacture, to realise the final object of beauty that he had envisaged. We spoke to Jack about the importance of conceptualising his work and the search for new and unchartered manufacture techniques in edging out a place in the Australian design market.
Tell us about your design studio; where are you based and what is your specialty? I started my design practice in Perth after studying industrial design in 2012. I currently have a small workshop in Perth Hills where I prototype and build custom designed projects. I specialise in marrying the artistic and emotional side of design with a strong understanding of manufacturing and engineering.
Tell us about the pieces that you produce; are your main influences and how did you incorporate these into the design? I have two main methods that inform my designs. One is exploring a particular manufacturing process and trying to achieve an outcome that is different and new. The second is designing a conceptual form and then working out how to achieve that in a refined manufacturing process. I draw a lot of inspiration from nature, manufacturing experiments and specialised equipment, for example high quality camera equipment and mathematics.
How do you see the furniture design industry right now, are there any shifts or changes that you’ve noticed? Australia’s design scene is blooming with a mixture of passion, talent, competition and awareness. Over the last five years or so, these ingredients have been slowly mixing together to create the perfect conditions for design to thrive and grow. The way people are embracing and pushing Australian designs both domestically and to the rest of the world is very exciting. I am not sure how, or if, the rise of social media platforms have influenced the designs being created. It has definitely made it much easier to get your designs seen around the world and into the right print publications.
What materials do you enjoy working with? And how does manufacturing locally affect your design process? I like all materials that don’t need to be hidden with paints and covers. Timbers, casting metals and stones are my favourites. It is definitely more difficult and expensive to manufacture within Australia but it is worth is when you get to closely collaborate with local specialists and have a hands-on approach to create the best outcome.
Why is furniture important to our daily lives? Through the life of a piece of furniture it becomes not only an object of function and beauty but also a keeper of shared stories, a treasured object as opposed to a consumable.
You recently sold an Untold Dining Table to an architectural photographer. Tell us a bit about this piece; what were you trying to highlight and how did you achieve this in the construction? This piece was focused around an infinite loop that formed the legs and frame for the table. To create a visually balanced piece, the frame had compound bend angles, which are difficult to achieve. Creating the continuous loop also meant developing a series of concealed spigot connectors that allowed easy assembly.
What is your favourite aspect of being a designer & maker? The most exciting part of the process is the initial spark of an idea. The most satisfying part is when all of the hard work comes together and you can run your hands over the first prototype.
“The Grain Stool is the distillation of two years development and refinement from Jack Flanagan and Callum Campbell. Each stool top is a single, solid recycled aluminium component subtly individual in its unique surface texture and imperfections. Through unifying the elegant precision of CNC machining with the romance of traditional sand casting processes, we have informed the designs expression. Intense care was taken in designing the top to be dramatically thin, forcing the development of subtle yet structurally solid joints. Strong and beautiful, the plantation American Oak legs balance the stools aesthetic composition, further instilling a sense of quality and a lifelong relationship with the product. The Grain stool was exhibited at the 2015 Australian Contemporary Design Awards where it won the People’s Choice Award and the 2016 Denfair where is received Runner-up Best product.” – Website of Jack Flanagan