Feature Article

Australian Design in New York

New York City, NY, USA

Insulating its presence and profoundness in New York, Australian design brand, NAU, describes the continent’s designs as ‘unique from the rest of the world for there is no design ancestry to which it adheres. The design culture is derived from a land of isolation.’

Unveiling their newest collections at ICFF in New York this past May, NAU previewed the Jolly lighting range by Kate Stokes and the SIA chair by Tom Fereday. Ross Gardam exhibited his new lighting collection Nebulae and Dowel Jones their first-ever upholstery collection, Sister, by designer Tom Hancocks. Launched as part of the project Sight Unseen OFFSITE, the installation LOBBY featured Sister with exhibit-goers experiencing the installation at Coming Soon, in New York’s Lower East Side and Chinatown.

With designers from Australia and New Zealand pushing their work into all corners of the globe, ‘design destination’ Cult saw the benefit of uniting ‘Australian creativity’ as a collective to showcase utility and skill beyond the coasts of Australia. The terrain that leaves many intrepid minds wide eyed by its enclaves, lengths of desolate, uninhabited space and disparaging cliffs met by open water has created the small design community that continue to strive for the opportunity to unveil their work internationally.

Making its way from Melbourne, Dowel Jones’ Sister is a series of soft upholstered pieces with an element of formation to their shape, designed with a high or low back. The upholstery is not made with any right angles, adding to its visual ease with the brand’s signature tubed steel framing solidifying each distinct form.

The co-founders of Dowel Jones, Dale Hardiman and Adam Lynch describe the LOBBY installation of Sister as their ‘first series of work that takes place in both a physical and digital space through the use of virtual reality.’ Their choice to work with NYC-based Australian designer Tom Hancocks stems from a long-time admiration for Tom’s work, describing him as ‘the perfect candidate for their first outsider collection.’ Entering the VR experience, LOBBY illustrates an in-between space between the physical product and digital space, with the upholstery easing exhibit entrants into the experience. Co-founder Dale says ‘We’ve always talked about how we can create more sensorial experiences to understand our work. As the digital space continues to develop, VR and augmented reality seem like great directions to be moving into.’ Dowel Jones’ next project with Lamington Drive will begin in August in Australia.

Ross Gardam’s newest lighting collection Nebulae made a strong impression at ICFF, comprised of pendant, desk lamp and wall light configurations. Inspired by both natural and LED light, the Nebulae collection stems from Gardam’s previous work Polar and Ora with the Ora Desk Lamp recently shown at Milan Design Week.

Made of geometric formations and fluid glass discs, the name Nebulae originates from its literal meaning ‘the natural phenomena of interstellar clouds and their dynamic layered lighting effects.’ The Polar and Ora collections explore ‘light reflection and shade’ and the Nebulae collection is a linear progression arising from both of their meanings. Citing Nebulae’s language as similar to Polar and Ora, Gardam believes Nebulae has a ‘very unique quality with its use of fluted glass, elemental motion and influence on the environment around it.’

Returning to New York this year with the newest work of both Kate Stokes and Tom Fereday, NAU’s collective of ‘Australia’s most curious and talented designers’ cultivate the design culture derived from a land of isolation. Enticing playfulness through the ‘exploration of form and material,’ the Jolly lighting range by Kate Stokes of Coco Flip envelopes an asymmetrical glowing fixture with the pendants at each end designed with either a single or double rod. The ‘refined palette’ is made of polished brass and foggy opal glass shades. The compact wall light shares the same portrayal of balance between the heavy brass and a soft glow. The collection invites a sense of ease and longevity, aligned with Coco Flip’s underlying appreciation for ‘creating products with personality that will last a lifetime.’

Awarded the Good Design Gold Award shortly after previewing SIA in New York, Tom Fereday’s newest piece is built from the ‘principles of honest design’ using materials and processes that don’t exploit the environment and people in the process. The lightweight chair is shaped from solid timber and named after its adjustable backrest. Although slender, the timber curvature provides immense comfort met with the thin steel frame supporting the alignment of the timber. The stackable piece was originally designed for the dining room, however, it has measured highly for both commercial and residential use.

ICFF 2019 will be held at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, NYC, on the 19th to the 22nd of May 2019.

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