A genuine design collaboration requires more than a shared aesthetic. For something substantial to ensue, the motives must run deeper, and the Zephyr Lounger designed by Australian designer Charles Wilson for outdoor furniture company Tait defines this principle. The nautical-inspired contemporary outdoor chair encapsulates both Tait’s strong brand identity and Charles’s understanding of the intricacies involved in good design for everyday life.
“Tait is a brand I’ve wanted to work with for ages,” Charles says. “I love their particularly Australian, optimistic style.” Creating a piece that channelled Tait’s signature expression – honed over an almost 30-year period – was, in fact, a very organic process. Charles recalls an initial brief for a highly comfortable, nautical-inspired chair followed by a fluid and trusting collaboration with Tait Founders and Directors Gordon and Susan Tait.
Zephyr sits confidently within Tait’s collection of premium outdoor furniture; Charles has captured not only the company’s stylistic essence but also the enduring ethos of championing the Australian way of life through excellent design. He cites the opportunity to work alongside Tait’s in-house design team and expert craftspeople as a key motivator in working with the outdoor furniture powerhouse. And while Zephyr presents all the hallmarks of a true Tait piece, Charles’s influence is present, too. Recognised for his distinctive, fluid forms and graceful linework as well as his affinity for mid-century modernism, Zephyr is the refined culmination of these many attributes. “There’s no denying the nod towards mid-century modernism in a piece like Zephyr,” Charles says. “With that comes both the logic of materiality, as well as that kind of mid-century optimism.”
Not only does Zephyr take its name from the sailing term for a gentle, uplifting breeze but the form and materiality are also both strong references to sailing. However, the result of this conceptual brief is far from thematic, rather subtly communicated through Charles’ sophisticated touch. The sweeping curves of the frame bring a distinctive flowing energy, while the form-fitting upholstery is pulled taut like a sail under tension. “There’s undoubtedly a strong nautical connection with the piece – it was intentional,” Charles says. “Even down to the way the woven rope detail provides tension to the seat and backrest, reminiscent of the rigging on a yacht.”
Alongside the strong nautical influence, Charles envisaged a piece that encouraged comfort and, more importantly, connection – a sentiment well and truly in line with Tait’s affinity for a relaxed lifestyle. “I recall thinking about the side profile and how it would have a forward dynamic,” he says. “The front leg extends to a different angle than the back leg, and the cast arms also have that forward movement. For those reasons it suggests conversation and openness.” Available in either a low or high back version, in three tonal colourways – Blue-gum, Dunes and Grevillea – this piece has been created with longevity front of mind. The frame is formed stainless steel extrusion and finished with hard-wearing, exterior-grade and UV stable textured powder coat. The solid die-cast stainless steel armrests “ground the piece both visually and physically, due to their considerable weight” and the canvas is marine-grade. Zephyr has been designed and manufactured to withstand the harsh Australian elements with ease, promising a lengthy life in the Australian outdoors.
It is clear that the value of this collaboration was never solely placed on the end result – perhaps the truest sign of a successful working relationship. Accordingly, Zephyr Lounger is both aesthetically refined and highly functional; it begs to be “occupied by people” – be it on the verandah or by the pool – and speaks back to our deeply ingrained Australian desire for summers spent in good company.