Exploring a ‘New Model’ – Dowel Jones
Richmond, VIC, Australia
Known for a utilitarian and playful approach to design, Dowel Jones’ constant search for progression has taken the studio many places. New Model, the latest initiative, repurposes textile waste streams and is a much-welcomed addition to Dowel Jones’ explorative legacy.
Since the inception of Dowel Jones some six years ago, the brand has carved its place as a constantly exploring and evolving Australian design studio. Co-founded by Adam Lynch and Dale Hardiman, their inquisitive nature and sense of playfulness has landed them collaborations both locally and internationally, filling cafes, restaurants and public areas as they fulfil their ethos of offering affordable and accessible design objects with personality. The latest initiative, New Model, sees Dowel Jones collaborate with international fabric house Kvadrat Maharam to optimise wastage from production through a participation event where consumers become part of the process of making. Through education, awareness and a sense of fun, Dowel Jones continues to grow and progress.
In a previous interview, Adam said, “we’re passionate about evolving our approach to design, which means exploring new and alternative ways of creating designs and collaborating with other designers,” and their keen involvement in local and international design events stands to this. Through this process of constant self-analysis, there is an element of projection toward what is next. In explaining what inspires them, Dale says, “it’s our reflection of practice: we could continue to do what we are doing, but we want to constantly evolve.” He adds, “in the time that we live now of the fast growth and pace of innovation in technology, environmental degradation and our ever-changing world, we want to be reacting and adapting with a new model to work by.” This is the inspiration behind the apply-named New Model, which seeks to enquire into how design can do better.
New Model, the latest initiative, repurposes textile waste streams and is a much-welcomed addition to Dowel Jones’ explorative legacy.
In explaining the new business, which is an offshoot of Dowel Jones and will sit within it, Dale says, “the idea for New Model really came from a conversation with our manufacturers. We asked, ‘Do you have any waste product?’ and they did, so we said, “Would you be open to finding a way to utilise the waste material?” Based on an idea that both Dale and Adam had been pondering for over two years, the new company will launch in March 2020 during Melbourne Design Week. Partnering with Kvadrat Maharam, and collaborating with industrial designers Soft Serve Studio who specialise in textile products, New Model repurposes the wastage, off-cuts, end of rolls and remnants. Dale adds, “Kvadrat Maharam is known for its quality, social responsibility and ethics, and we were asking ourselves how we can utilise waste materials and provide small goods to replace current products made from raw materials”
“The idea for New Model really came from a conversation with our manufacturers. We asked, ‘Do you have any waste product?’ and they did, so we said, “Would you be open to finding a way to utilise the waste material?”
As an extension of their core ethos as a business, engagement and immersion within the design community and with the consumer was key to this initiative. New Model will launch on March 21st and take place in a 250 square-metre factory as a nine-hour event. Dale says, “together with the textile design company, we’ve designed a range of bags and accessories where consumers will sit with a consultant, choose the fabric, hand over to the sewers and makers and cutters, who then will make it in front of the customer and sign it as a proud authentication of the local production.” He explains, “the process takes one hour, with a half hour of consultation, then it is made.” To bring the consumer into the process, allowing them to see the making process and be individually involved in the design and consultation is key to creating ownership and creating an understanding of waste and ways of repurposing. Dale says, “for us, it makes sense as designers as our job is known to be about problem solving. We’re acutely aware that waste is a problem, and the scale of it. With New Model we are taking the old and making it into a new, in one building, on one day only.”
“Kvadrat Maharam is known for its quality, social responsibility and ethics, and we were asking ourselves how we can utilise waste materials and provide small goods to replace current products made from raw materials.”
Extending from the principles underpinning New Model, Dale says, “the idea is to move into other commercial workspaces and trap waste streams; we want to slow down the process (in response to the digital disruption that is happening in the world right now) and we see this as allowing the consumer to engage and understand the process and become a part of it providing further transparency.” As a socially and environmentally aware design business, Dowel Jones’ focus is creating and working toward a viable business model of manufacturing in Australia. Stemming from the brand’s beginnings of creating products that are accessible and design driven, Dowel Jones seeks to utilise design as a facilitator of improvement. Dale summarises it thus – “We want to give an allowance to respect the material, acknowledge the waste, and repurpose it. We want to show what we do outside of commercial furniture while also engaging with the consumer.” New Model will do just that, and emphasises that, with Dowel Jones at the forefront of innovation in design, the brand remains one to watch.