Leigh & Aaron of Catapult Design | Feature Interview
Ultimo, NSW, Australia

Liz Barrett

Pablo Veiga & Tom Ferguson

What happens when two design-savvy, furniture aficionados decide to push back against the tide of mass-produced imported furniture and create a platform that brings together and highlights some of our finest local designers and manufacturers?

The answer is Catapult Design.

Catapult Design was founded in 2013 by Leigh Johnson and Aaron Zorzo, who had for many years represented some of the worlds leading designers and firms – including Patricia Urquiola, MDF Italia and Jean-Marie Massaud, just to name a few. After so long working with international design houses, they decided it was time to shift to a local focus and create a platform for our own homegrown talent. The fact that our market is increasingly flooded with poor quality, mass-produced items only solidified their vision.

The business ethos is not only to spotlight local Australian designers and work with local manufacturing, but also to ensure that they represent products that are made from quality, durable materials, which can be customised where required, and which will fit within Catapult‘s aesthetic. Additionally, an advantage of working with local designers and makers was more manageable lead-times compared to imported international wares – especially given that some of the products are created mere hours away.

Between them, Leigh and Aaron have over 20 years of experience in furniture, design, and styling in Australia. However, they both bring a different set of strengths to the business.

Leigh’s strong sense of direction, unwavering passion, and dedication to clients and suppliers alike drives the overall business, covering the marketing and sales approach as well as the client relations team.

Aaron’s creativity, distinct eye for design detailing and style aesthetic ensures the brands they represent fit within their overall business aspirations.

Aaron and Leigh also bring these strengths together collaborating on their own signature furniture collection. It’s clear they love what they do – “We know that interior design is a serious business, but we try and make it fun and ensure that our clients have an enjoyable time through the process of each project.”

When Catapult Design was born, Leigh and Aaron knew it couldn’t be sustained with only an online presence, especially as so many of the products needed to be seen and touched. They opened a bricks-and-mortar store in Darlinghurst where they began building a strong following of designers and interior design lovers.

The success of the store saw them recently relocate to a bigger space, a historical woolshed in the heart of Sydney’s Ultimo, where they now represent over 30 local brands such as Andre Hnatojko, Barbera, Apparentt, Ben-Tovim Design, Dowel Jones, Ross Didier, Skeehan Studio and Coeval. This ever-increasing array of talent caters to a wide range of clients, ranging from residential to commercial, and the hospitality and education sectors.

Their passion for the brands they work with is evident, Leigh explains that “Whilst I could never choose a favourite designer, I will always love the bronze range from Barbera, he creates such detailed timeless furniture pieces. Another talent is Lelia Jeffreys. Lelia is one of our favourite artists, we love the mood she catches in the faces of her birds. The power, beauty and majesty. Her work is simply awe inspiring.”

When looking ahead, their love of design is as strong as ever, and they are excited about what the future holds for Catapult Design. “We never tire of searching for new designers and products. Luckily, in the last few years, some impressive designers have begun approaching us directly making the whole process less consuming. It is always a delight to see what the emerging talent brings each year and the continued opportunity for design to evolve and provoke the senses. We are very excited, we are about to launch some incredible new products – so watch this space!”