A Focus on Locality and Community – Henry Wilson
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Henry Wilson is the founder of the Studio Henry Wilson, whose work has become known for monolithic, emboldened forms and masculine crafted play on form and materiality. As his eponymous studio continues to thrive, Henry has also recently founded Laker Studio with fellow designer David Caon. Throughout both practices, a focus on locality and the strength of community is a running thread.
Although predominantly known for cast metal and stone works, Henry works with a plethora of materials and is continually testing and investigating how a material or an idea can be interpreted and refined. With a global mindset, it is nevertheless collaboration with local partners that has enabled this process of ongoing experimentation to flow. Partnerships with like-minded creatives for the evolution and development of partnerships and new collections have always been at the heart of Studio Henry Wilson, and now his new business, Laker Studio, forms a key part the next chapter of this story of creative experimentation and collaboration.
Henry works with a plethora of materials and is continually testing and investigating how a material or an idea can be interpreted and refined.
From his early years studying at the School of Art in Canberra, Henry possessed a keen focus on making and designing through self-creation. He explains, “I worked with timber a lot in the early days, and in a way my process really started from there. There was such a collaborative and hands-on approach which formed a large part of my education and then later on dictated how I approached product design.” This period was followed by time spent at the Design Academy Eindhoven, and this was where “I was taught to look at design differently from other institutions, with a heavy focus on the conceptual and the development of the idea over the actual object and how design was an exploration of design thinking,” he says. After then returning to Australia, Henry started working with a pattern maker in a foundry. “That is when I started first working with cast metal to make the A-Joint, and from there a whole range started to develop as a natural progression. What was important was finding the right manufacturer, who worked well with and who supported all of these ideas I was exploring. And from there, broader opportunities came quite naturally.”
The past year has given rise to a revised studio space for the team, which also shares duties as Henry’s own home. As a shared workspace, cocreation opportunities and the sharing and testing of ideas was made ever more available. Together with Studio Henry Wilson, Caon and Laker Studio all occupy the one space. “I was lucky enough to buy this little terrace in Darlinghurst, and it’s been very much a chameleon of a property, with many iterations of my business playing out,” Henry says. “I’ve lived and worked here for a few years and recently decided to renovate and formalise the space a little more.” The curation of the space, but more importantly, the sharing of ideation between the studios adds enormously to the process. “It’s really fun having lots of people around;it keeps it exciting,” Henry reflects. “We had all been friends for a while, and we always talk about design, and while we come from very different kind of design and professional backgrounds, we share a lot of the same ethos and tastes. So, it just made sense.”
With a global mindset, it is nevertheless collaboration with local partners that has enabled this process of ongoing experimentation to flow.
As an endeavour with David Caon, Laker Studio fuses its founders’ respective crafts. The studio combines industrial design and custom pieces, with furniture as a focus. Henry and David’s expertise in cast metal and timber is a key feature. The studio has been in the works for many years, and 2020, Henry says, has afforded them time to develop and launch. “This year has given us the oxygen to be able to really get going, and we have had the time to prioritise joining studios and this time has galvanised that idea,” he says. “Our focus is definitely local, with utilising local manufacturers and homing in on those relationships. David has a much more technical practice, so together there’s a nice sort of synergy of skills.”
With Laker Studio now off the ground and Studio Henry Wilson continuing to grow, Henry is keen to continue collaborating on custom projects with architects and interior designers, as well as further refining his own craft and continuing to explore technical and craft boundaries. His process, he says, “is a constant balancing act”, and it is this agility and openness to alter and adjust that will no doubt continue to see his practice, in all its guises, flourish.