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July 2, 2015
Commerce

Australian Furniture Design Award finalists

For many, furniture is just a mundane object we use to rest our feet or store our keys. But, it is something much more significant for the finalists of JamFactory and StyleCraft’s Australian Furniture Design Award, who are anxiously awaiting tonight's announcement of the prize's inaugural winner.

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JamFactory and StyleCraft are working together to bring an Australian designer’s furniture prototype to life on a commercial scale. The winner of the award will be granted a $20,000 cash prize and their piece will be commercially produced by JamFactory and distributed by StyleCraft nationwide. We have spoken to each finalist to find out just how important furniture can be, when it is taken for granted by so many.

Remarks

Picture 01 –
The Unforgotten – Console by Penelope Forlano

Picture 02 –
Frame Chair by Gavin Harris

Picture 03 –
The Sun, The Moon and Me by Seaton McKeon

Picture 04 –
Coolgardie Line: Curio, Dresser & Lamp by Elliat Rich

Picture 05 –
Caliper by Charles Wilson

Picture 06 –
Lizard Outdoor Lounge by Sam Wright

Penelope Forlano

penelope_forlano_portrait

The Australian Furniture Design Award is such a prestigious and incredible prize, how can you see it affecting your personal life and your work if you win on Thursday?

I haven’t thought that far ahead as yet. I think I will be on cloud nine for a quite a while. My work will probably be more focussed on the commercial aspect if I were to win, as much of my work recently has been more bespoke and tested new ideas. But I have developed processes now that I can now apply more commercially so I’m excited about that. I have lots of ideas for potential collaborations, so I would hope to forge long term relationship with the Jam Factory and Stylecraft.

What are your plans for the $20,000 cash prize – business or pleasure?

The finalists are so diverse, skilled and interesting so it’s very hard to imagine winning.  I haven’t thought about that too much either it still feels like a long way off, but I suspect I’ll be re-investing most of it into my business. Maybe sneak in a short holiday to the Kimberley if I’m lucky?

Design is meant to create solutions, what problems has your product solved? 

This furniture, ‘The Unforgotten’ is a custom design piece which attempts to create an ‘endearment’ over time and recalls significant memories. Through my research I believe that by embedding multiple meanings and narrative, technical precision, and memory of the past, an object can become a special, future family heirloom. The surface of the work on the various faces of the facets illustrates different messages, specific to the owner. Some patterns inscribed on the surface for example, transcribe stories, others duplicate various treasures that had been hidden away for over 60 years. The owner had these objects including handwritten poetry from a 1950’s notebook, and a silk lace handkerchief, both handmade by the owner’s mother.  These were digitally recorded and replicated in the texture of the work. Other personal drawings and imagery of significant places have been used to create a narrative of the owner’s family heritage.


Gavin Harris

Gavin_Harris_Portrait

The Australian Furniture Design Award is such a prestigious and incredible prize, how can you see it affecting your personal life and your work if you win on Thursday? 

It’s a great award, it’s supporting and bringing Australian product designers to a wider audience. I am an interior designer by training, but I have always loved and been fascinated with products, manufacturing and the process of bringing elements from idea/ sketch to becoming real. This award will help do this for the frame chair, but also with the award money help bring other designs I have developed to the next stage. This award will confirm I need to work more on products in the future. Personally it will provide a tick that my ideas are on the mark and I can develop designs in line with a wider social brief.

What are your plans for the $20,000 cash prize – business or pleasure? 

A bit of both, I have some more designs I wish to develop, so this will help in their construction and production of renders to review the designs. 

Design is meant to create solutions, what problems has your product solved?  

It has not solved a problem, but has provided a solution to seating that is clever, funny and able to have different looks (via different fabrics and frame finishes) – personality is import in design it provides stories for users to link to and adds value to product making it a long term item.


Seaton McKeon

Seaton_McKeon_Portrait

The Australian Furniture Design Award is such a prestigious and incredible prize, how can you see it affecting your personal life and your work if you win on Thursday?

Currently I really fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to pulling things together and making prototypes, perhaps I might not be transforming the kitchen / bedroom / living room into the dedicated workshop it seems to become.

What are your plans for the $20,000 cash prize – business or pleasure?

For me it would be a giant kick start to get a number of products out to the market place that have been hiding away in the vaults of my external hard drive. Like any designer I derive a great deal of pleasure from my work so it would be a very grey split, but it would definitely not be going into the stock market or bitcoin… I would probably give dad’s drill back and get a drill press…

Design is meant to create solutions, what problems has your product solved? 

There are not enough stars in the city, we are somewhat blinded by the glow and hum of everything else around us in our everyday lives. Experiencing a clear night sky allows people to move beyond the inherent myopia of flashing lights and provides a sense of scale and perspective that may help to clarify or diffuse. Given that every atom within our body is stardust, the result of a supernova,  I feel that there is something fundamentally human in being able to see the stars.


 Elliat Rich

Elliat_Rich_Portrait

The Australian Furniture Design Award is such a prestigious and incredible prize, how can you see it affecting your personal life and your work if you win on Thursday?

I would relish the opportunity to work with JamFactory, to gain an understanding of how Stylecraft works and what their clients are interested in, and to establish a relationship with the Art Gallery of South Australia. Working from Central Australia offers a lot, but being a part of the design and craft industry is difficult from there, so any occasions that facilitates working with people from that field are invaluable and welcomed.

What are your plans for the $20,000 cash prize – business or pleasure?

As an independent designer you are always reinvesting in your practice. I have a number of projects ready to go into prototype stage and a few ideas that would benefit. Other than that we need a new vacuum cleaner…
Design is meant to create solutions, what problems has your product solved?

I might just reword your question slightly; Design is a process that can be applied to any given situation to gain an understanding of it’s constraints and possibilities. The ‘brief’ set by the AFDA provided an opportunity to tell a story about a somewhat humble object. The Coolgardie Safe was designed to store and cool food before electricity was abundant. It demonstrates and elegantly utilises an environmental condition that is common in arid Australia; evaporation. As an object it exemplifies how we were, and are continuing, to learn to live with and in this country.


Charles Wilson

Charles_Wilson_Portrait

The Australian Furniture Design Award is such a prestigious and incredible prize, how can you see it affecting your personal life and your work if you win on Thursday?

The AFDA is an unusually generous and thoughtfully devised competition – It’s not just the prize money and acquisition of the prototype, but the opportunity to then collaborate with the Jam Factory and Stylecraft. It’s a terrific initiative that should encourage Australian designers for years to come. 

What are your plans for the $20,000 cash prize – business or pleasure?

I would be directing it towards further developing this design along with other projects which I haven’t had the opportunity to explore.  

Design is meant to create solutions, what problems has your product solved?

I am particularly interested in die-cast aluminium as a process Australia has invested hugely in, yet which may vanish with the collapse of the automotive supply industry. There could be significant international opportunities in utilising this process to create elegant contemporary furniture. Being a stackable dining chair that uses high production processes, the Caliper Chair is specifically intended for local production and international markets.  


Samuel Wright

SamWright

The Australian Furniture Design Award is such a prestigious and incredible prize, how can you see it affecting your personal life and your work if you win tonight?

I try not to get too far ahead of myself with things like this, however I could see winning a competition like the AFDA as a great formal introduction to the wider design community. It has always been my long term goal to make a living doing something I really enjoy so an accolade of this caliber would really give that goal a big push in the right direction. Design is one of those occupations that is almost impossible to separate from personal life as you are constantly thinking through projects, day and night. Ultimately I would like to think winning would be a big step towards me moving away from working for someone else and into running my own business.

What are your plans for the $20,000 cash prize – business or pleasure?

Probably a bit of both. I really enjoy the experimenting/making/testing/successes/failures of playing with your own designs and this needs to be funded somehow. I have a few ideas that would be great to prototype so I would probably send a fair amount into a new project like that. Just allow for a bit of breathing space really.

Design is meant to create solutions, what problems has your product solved?

Good question that, on a really specific level it solves the problem of having somewhere to sit comfortably outdoors, your phone running out of battery while not being near a power point, having somewhere to put your drink and also keep your head out of the sun. I guess a lot of people have much bigger “problems” than that so it all depends on what kind of situation you are in.

 

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