Design Collective turns 10. | Feature Article
Chippendale, NSW, Australia

Liz Barrett

Pete Daly & Michael Wickham

Founding designers Sarah Gibson and Nick Karlovasitis. Image- Michael Wickham - The Local Project

Founding designers Sarah Gibson and Nick Karlovasitis. Image: Michael Wickham.

For any business, reaching a 10 year milestone is a huge achievement, and for Australian design collaborative DesignByThem, it is no different. Having met at University and after discussing launching a design business together, founding designers Sarah Gibson and Nick Karlovasitis set about creating one of Australia’s most prominent design cooperatives.

DesignByThem brings together and represents a host of talented Australian designers, such as Tom Fereday, Stefan Lie, Tommy Cehak, Seaton McKeon, Trent Jansen, Jon Goulder, Daniel Tucker and also including co-founders Sarah Gibson and Nick Karlovasitis themselves.

Tom Fereday's Bow Chair Photographed by Fiona Sustano - Design by Them - The Local Project Feature Article

Bow Chair by Tom Fereday. Image: Fiona Sustano.

Alfred Magazine Rack by Seaton McKeon, Alfred Umbrella Stand by Seaton McKeon, Nick Karlovasitis & Sarah Gibson. Image- Pete Daly. - Feature Article The Local Project

Alfred Magazine Rack by Seaton McKeon, Alfred Umbrella Stand by Seaton McKeon, Nick Karlovasitis & Sarah Gibson. Image: Pete Daly.

pop-table-white-oak-cub-chairs-corner-raw-hr_opt_preview

Pop Table by Nick Karlovasitis & Sarah Gibson, Cub Chair by Jon Goulder. Image: Pete Daly.

The pair admits bringing such talent together has been a progression. ‘‘Mainly designers come to us, although on occasion we approach them. The process either starts with a brief, created by us, that identifies the specific talent of the designer paired with market research and knowing what our clients are looking for. Other times designers come to us with an idea they’ve been working on, that they think would suit our range. Occasionally we see something and we think it just fits, and so we approach the designer to produce it.’’

Looking ahead, Sarah explains ‘‘We do wish more designers would come forward with their designs, especially female designers.’’

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Piper Table and Piper Chair by Sarah Gibson and Nick Karlovasitis Image: Pete Daly.

‘‘As a country there are so many talented local designers. I’m really liking Stefan Ormandy’s work. I think he has a good artistic aesthetic that’s inspired by the object and uniformity,’’ says Sarah.

‘‘There are just so many local creatives who are doing some great work at the moment. William Smart and the Smart Design Studio have completed some incredible work lately, there is a lot to be proud of.’’ agrees Nick.

From left to right: Bow Chair by Tom Fereday, Baker Extendable Table by Sarah Gibson and Nick Karlovasitis, Partridge Chair by Nick Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson, Stem Coat Stand by Nick Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson, Them Chair by Nick Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson. Image: Pete Daly.

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Stem Coat Stand by Nick Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson, Cabin Lounge by Nick Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson. Image: Pete Daly.

The Local Project Feature Article - Design By Them - Bobby Stool - Tom Tom Product

TomTom Letterbox by Tommy Cehak, Nicholas Karlovasitis & Sarah Gibson. Image: Pete Daly.

DesignByThem has created a fun and functional approach to design. ‘We are always trying to balance minimalism with character to create objects that have personality but are not overbearing.’’ Their products have all the sensibility of good design but with a less than serious approach.

The passion for creating playful and functional furniture and decorative items seems to have always been there, Nick citing playing with Lego and Transformers as the beginning of his love affair with objects. Whilst Sarah began drawing floor plans at a very young age, wanting to be an architect initially, she then decided to do industrial design after loving art and physics classes at school.

Co- founder and Designer Sarah Gibson. Image- Michael Wickham. - Feature Article - The Local Project
Co- founder and Designer Nick Karlovasitis. Image- Michael Wickham. - The Local Project Feature Article

Left: Co- founder and Designer Sarah Gibson. Image: Michael Wickham. Right: Co- founder and Designer Nick Karlovasitis. Image: Michael Wickham.

Having had the foresight to bring together local talent and create a flourishing business with this creative team, they are also noticing a prominent shift towards the appreciation of our local designers and manufacturers. ‘‘It’s a conversation we’ve been having in the studio lately, and with other designers. There’s a great economic effect of multiple designers, as well as some of the larger brands, making locally. This gives manufacturers confidence to take on the work of smaller designers, as they can see the potential for multiple orders rather than just one-off prototypes.’’ Sarah adds, ‘‘I think local design has increased in popularity as well due to it becoming a more viable option. More locally produced items can compete with overseas designs on price and lead time as well as design and quality.’’

butter-stools-black-grey-white-stack-brick-wall-hr_opt_preview - The Local Project Design by Them Feature Article

Butter Stool by Nicholas Karlovasitis & Sarah Gibson. Image: Pete Daly.

The Local Project Feature Article - Design By Them - Bobby Stool

Bobby Stool by Daniel Tucker. Image: Pete Daly.

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