RS TO NA DI OR CO ly C aw el HI Sh Ri AP s a GR ngu and A ir M t OR me IT Em ED om T
EVENTS COORDINATORS Bridget Reardon
Funded by a Student Clubs & Projects (SCAP) Grant
a or T ni EC Ta OJ PR S Den OO OR e l MB CT an el BA RE T Sz DI ade ve J te S E E DI Ma bon TOR M r y I O ha ko F AL Sh liv iri s H owl CO an er an ug er NT RI no S ne he BU n ut M s TO To te ac RS th r le od
AN UNDERSTANDING OF PLACE: FROM ITALY TO AUSTRALIA 8 GIVING THE STREETS COLOUR 24
REALS 26 FRANK AND MIMI 32
MODEL PLACE 18 DO YOU REMEMBER THAT ONE TIME? 38
19 JAMES STREET 58 STUDIO SPACES 66
TOM EMMETT 68 LEONA FIETZ 72 HANCOCK 76 JESSIE LEE NASH 80
CIELLE MARCHAL 44 FELICIA BALSATEGUI 52
A LOOK AT HENRY WILSON 84
PLACEMAKING. Placemaking, what does it mean? Building a room? Building a house? Building a city? Building a society? What about destoying? Or setting a table? In this issue of D/zine we investigate this concept and look at how it affects us, as designers, citizens and society at large. Like last issue was an exploration of Materiality, this one is an exploration of Placemaking. Placemaking for me is making oneself comfortable and feeling ‘at home’ in a particular context, but as you’ll find out throughout the magazine it can be and is interpreted in a variety of ways. This investigation, at it’s most fundamental foundations, is a look into the human condition and why people think the way they do. Or produce the work they create. In this particular case we study the influence of place and its relevance and impact upon society and the creative industries. Perhaps we as designers should all think about placemaking a bit more and try to understand it’s influence on people. Should that chair really be the focal point of the living room? Or should it be quiter, allowing the entertainment of conversation or a good meal to come to the forefront. Should that house be designed or styled to be photogenic and collect more likes on Instagram? Or should it be considered with the user and the day to day activites in mind? Should the concrete jungle otherwise known as the city continually be glass and concrete, serving the former ideals of past architects? Or should the citizens or ‘users’ of the space be allowed to express themselves through street art and installations? There’s not one right answer, as with most things it depends upon context, time and the user. However no matter the answer, the question should always be bought up, possibly resulting in a more suitable built environment for all parties involved. Tom Emmett
AN UNDERSTANDING OF PLACE: FROM ITALY TO AUSTRALIA
Markos Hughes is a QUT student and a Dub member, currently on student exchange at the Politecnico di Milano, in Italy. 15 months into a two yearlong cross-cultural experience, Markos reflects on the context of history, place and “culture” that Italy has and the marked differences to that of Brisbane.
/9 In this article I am trying to identify the comparisons between the physical and cultural and how the two are intertwined in respect to place making. The rich culture of Italy is linked directly to its unique location between the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea and also to its religious history (both pagan and catholic) that over time came to shape Italy in to what it is today. Australia, on the hand is a world away in its geography and place in history, resulting in a distinctly different culture. The cultures and architectural vernacular in response is in essence, its place making. Place making in an architectural sense is the study of urban environments presented within the social and physical context. These are the aspects that help define a space. These elements can include architecture, history and the environment. After living in both Brisbane and now Milan, and observing them from an outside perspective, I can now understand how the cities built environment are diverse, and in turn how the cultural norms of each other are vastly different. I believe there are a few tangible qualities that help define the Italian culture. The most obvious of which is the physical presence of history. Everywhere you look you can see what was constructed in the past, either in the last 200 years or in many cases, remnants of Roman civilization. This constant presence of historic construction has left an indelible impression on the Italian people and with it an understanding of their place and purpose in Europe. Much of their identity comes from their historical past, and myself alongside millions of tourists come to Italy to experience and see traces of its rich history. The architecture and the arts are the only physical elements that survive the passing of time, and I note that Italians are resistant to change, both culturally and socially. While this is undoubtedly due to a multitude of economic variants, I believe that they associate so much of their national identity with the past, and to change their identity would be to change the past. George Clooneyâ€™s character in the art-war movie Monuments Men said it best in respect to Hitler stealing artworks:
“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they will still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it is as if they never existed’’. Another factor that was equally influential in shaping Italy was religion, namely Catholicism, and its significant dominance over architecture, the arts and society. Christianity was the dominant faith over the last 2000 years and to this day its physical & psychological presence is still felt. Much of the art, philosophy and architecture in Italy are a direct response towards Christianity and in particular, Catholicism. The role the Church had in shaping the urban planning of Milan is especially exemplary. Duomo di Milano, the towering and beautifully complex church and seat of the Archbishop of Milan is located directly in the centre of Milan and over its 700 years of construction, the major roads of Milan have either led towards it, or around it. This close relationship with religion and the influence over the people of Milan has had profound effects on shaping the streets of modern day Milan, reiterating my belief that history and context are some of the most important and thus influential factors for shaping culture. This is evident both in the physical and social constructions of the city of Milan. A third element of Italian culture stems from what is at the centre of all city centres, the “Town Square”. Common across Europe, and by no means an Italian identity, I believe the Town square allowed for the “place-making” of Italian history, architecture and religion to become one with the Italian identity and thus, culture. The market place and square in essence became a meeting place, a cross-road (literal and figurative) place of ideologies, theologies and cultures. This notion was evident recently when the World Expo, currently being held in Milan this year had its opening ceremony in the Piazza del Duomo, the large centre square located directly in front of the Duomo di Milan.
Words by Markos Hughes
Photographs by Markos Hughes
The ceremony located amongst the architecture of the church signaled to the people of Milan, and more importantly the global audience watching, the values, ideologies and achievements that make up what is Italy and Milan. Essentially this platform of society helped citizens to understand that this was their own culture, and that by acknowledging and protecting it, it would come to define them. Comparing my hometown of Brisbane, I can clearly see that the cultures are vastly different, simply due to the factors of history, location and the environment that we have assimilated into our lives. Australia is unique in that it is a country made up of many nationalities that have arrived from abroad, and alongside our beautiful and vast landscape, our global identity has become relaxed and welcoming. Our national identity stems from a very recent history in comparison to Italy, as the lands were only discovered by Dutch explorers in 1606, inhabited by British penal colonies in 1770 and united as a Commonwealth in 1901. All these events are but small slice in comparison to the thousands of years that the Italian landscape has been inhabited. Our short history of western occupation has distanced us from long standing political and theological traditions present across some European nationalities. We are a country developed through European exploration and thus never had to fight for our land (not to ignore the case of abuse against the Indigenous Aborigines). The physical distance and large mass of water that separates Australia from the rest of the world also removed us from many conflicts. We did of course join our allies in many wars, most notably the first and second World War. The Anzac spirit of heroism, courage and mate-ship exemplified during the World Wars left a lasting impression on the country and we are proud that our character as a nation was heavily moulded by it. These qualities run alongside our carefree attitude and welcoming persona. To be proud to be Australian is to be proud of the beautiful land and the relaxed people that help make Australiaâ€Śâ€œStrayaâ€?.
/17 In identifying these contexts for the place making of Brisbane I understood that our short history, allowed us to build without political or theological stronghold. Our still very small population has allowed us to live in comfort and own our own home, while still offering residence for asylum seekers. It is the physical location of Brisbane that has had the most influence in the context of place making. Our proximity to beautiful beaches, north and south, islands across the channels and mountain ranges to the west has developed our Queenslander ethos. The weather (beautiful one day, perfect the next) has even influenced the architectural vernacular of our homes, typified by the Queenslander building style. This style in many ways responded directly to our climate by implementing a verandah for more open living spaces and a raised elevation that ventilates the home and also allows it to overcome the flooding that occurs in the extreme summers. While a world away from the Italian landscape, it is interesting and I think important to note what, and more significantly, how our architecture has been influenced by our physical context, which also defines our character. I have learnt a lot during my time here so far, but mostly by being taken out of the everyday lifestyle within Brisbane, it has actually led me to understand, question and ultimately think about how our society is based, on what factors and contexts. We must realize that our whole concept of place, whether local or national has been cultivated by our past, and it is through this that we establish identity. Our focus on the future and building utopian societies mustnâ€™t forego an understanding of our history and our culture. It is these ideologies and large-scale thinking that I believe is necessary to face an ever changing and interconnected world. Markos is an Ambassador for the EU Expo Milano, and also a blog writer for Expo in Citta Blog. Blog: whereismarkos.tumblr.com Instagram: markosy
“Model Place: A Reimagining Of Environment Creation And Scale” are a series of three detailed illustrations by Angus Shaw. Playing with the sense of scale through highly realistic drawing, he toys with the notion of placemaking.
‘‘Maker’s Space’. Artwork by Angus Shaw. Graphite and Digital Media. (To Right) ‘‘The Maker’’ Artwork by Angus Shaw. Graphite and Digital Media. (Next spread). ‘‘Crafting The City’’ Artwork by Angus Shaw. Graphite and Digital Media. (Second spread). Instagram: drawnshaw
GIVING THE STREETS COLOUR How does the urban landscape of hues of grey of concrete and transparent glass affect the citizen? Yes this style of architecture has itâ€™s positives in cleanness of form ect, but when not done properly it turns into urban sludge. Oliver Suter talks to two street artists from Brisbane: Reals, an Internationally renowned Graffiti writer and Frank and Mimi, the dynamic duo who are reviving hand painted signs and typography.
Photograph by Frank and Mimi
Interview by Oliver Suter
Photographs by Reals
REALS Reals, a graffiti writer from Brisbane, has been creating works since the 80s and has since been travelling the world both tagging buildings and painting in galleries. How did you get started with graffiti and painting? Why do you think you went down this route of art/expression/creativity? I first learnt about Graffiti in the mid 80’s after seeing some documentation from New York. Soon after I noticed similar stylish tags, bold pieces and characters were popping up all over the train lines, train carriages and parts of the city. To me it was the next step from comic books and cartoons. I was never good at skating or surfing and never excelled with sports but art always appealed to me. The ability to create your own art wherever you thought would be suitable really appealed to me. I’ve been involved since the early 90’s. It’s just been a long, slow progression from there. You’ve travelled a bit around the world doing shows and making art, tell me about that? Do you feel that the place or location you choose to paint influences your work? I’ve done a little bit of travel, not enough. I find I like to get a feel for a new city and get familiar with the surroundings before getting down and painting. It depends if you have time. I’m always respectful of local writers and customs. You will always find influences from other places. It doesn’t matter what city or country.
From your early days in graffiti to now, how do you think graffiti has changed in Brisbane and on a broader scale? / Do you think it is becoming more accepted socially? In my opinion Graffiti in Brisbane has declined. This city has produced so many good writers from the 80’s, 90’s compared to present times. Younger writers are getting better quick if they stick with it but most aren’t the great all rounders that you used to see. Regardless if the buff or task force are strong these days there are still a few stand outs that get up. I still miss seeing proper track side productions, street tagging, throw ups plus other action like roller pieces and weed sprayer tags. Graffiti is only socially accepted when society or the media thinks it’s cool. It’s outlawed and hated and the most talented Graffiti artists arew fined and jailed but it’s sooo cool to use in advertising. When you’re working outside of the gallery do you put much consideration into how the public will see it or would you say it’s more of a spontaneous process? I prefer the aesthetics of the streets or abandoned buildings. Concrete, brick, metal, tiles. Dark and grimey surfaces. Buffed spots don’t appeal to me as much as something raw these days. Painting in hot spots equals more spontaneous actions, likewise with chill walls you may get too complacent or experimental.
It’s less exciting or repetitive sometimes. With walls I don’t really care about the paint application as much because it’s spray paint. Sometimes it drips or doesn’t spray the way you want but it’s fun emptying cans. Pieces can either be admired for their detail up close, or how good they look from a distance. I don’t really care about what anyone thinks when they see my pieces as you basically create an illusionary character and run with it. Love, hate, shock, whatever. Like my old stuff better?.. I just spent my whole life doing it. I try not to take it personally and just try and keep whatever is left of my personal life separate. I mean I appreciate the love but can also be inspired by hate and negativity it could go either way. It’s treated kind of like a spectator sport these days. Do you think about the impact of your work on the streets surrounding it? Or is that an afterthought? Yes, sometimes. Everything has a rightful place out there. I mean I won’t be bringing any gangster shit to a sweet neighbourhood but I’m not 18 anymore. I like to be respectable and place my pieces or tags neatly in the desired space available. The object is getting your name up. It’s just something you do. It’s a daily operation… Graffiti has so many elements. You try and win, try again and fail, get arrested, get beat up, try again, get injured, try again, win, lose, it’s life. It just comes naturally. When you’re in so deep you can’t stop. The only afterthoughts I can think of right now could be “Maybe I should of brought more black” or “Maybe we shouldn’t have painted over the front of that building” or worse “Maybe we should of left before the police come”. And finally, what does placemaking mean to you? In graffiti terms I guess making the most of the space in your surroundings to get effective results. Sometimes actions need to be planned other times you can take opportunities that present themselves at the right time. You need to be prepared either way.
FRANK AND MIMI Rick Hayward and Emily Devers are the two creative forces behind Frank and Mimi, the studio renowned for their handcrafted signs and illustrations.
Interview by Oliver Suter
How did you get started with Sign Writing and Typography? Did you always envision large, painted works? How did you both start collaborating? Emily: I’m self taught, though with the guidance of Rick and the help of many other masters of the trade I’ve fledged my own creative practice around a deep understanding of lettering. My background in Fine Arts has always informed my approach, and recently I’ve begun to adopt a more serious attitude to how large-scale public artworks can influence the community. Rick: I undertook a year long traineeship followed by a four year sign writing apprenticeship at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast, subcontracted for a couple of years and then ran my own business in the lead up to Em and I starting to work together in 2012. Tell me about your work now, what inspires you? Do you have a vision or world you want to create? F&M: That is a big question! Whilst our approach is very present living in those day to day moments, there are of course always larger things at play. Our vision is to allow Frank & Mimi the space it needs to grow and develop naturally and be informed by our core values as human beings. We check in with these core values regularly so as not to allow the brand to veer off course. What process do you go through from designing a mural to painting it? Does the context in which you’re working influence your work? Context is paramount when creating a work. The hierarchy of our approach begins with a strong base in design fundamentals, and it apexes at our own creative vision. Environmental influences on the space include everything from locality, history (past and present narrative) and the humans that engage with it – all equally important to the outcome of the work.
Photographs by Frank and Mimi
Do you think about what impact your work will have on the surrounding environment? Or is this an afterthought? F&M: Absolutely! From the moment of conception, our ideas are nourished by the contextual setting, the environment (micro and macro), the humans behind the project, and the impact we hope it will have on people who experience the work. In those instances when we’re awarded creative freedom – we take it as an opportunity to extend on our own conscious creative practice with maximum impact. What advice would you give aspiring artists/designers based upon your experiences? F&M: The industry doesn’t define you, you define the industry. From the very first moments that you define yourself as an artist/designer publicly, you then have the choice to chase and engage with work that you align yourself with, and want to be known for. Don’t discount the value of curating your output as everything you release to the world is an extension of you and your brand’s identity. What does “Place-making” mean to you? F&M: We look forward to a time in Brisbane when the government invests in it’s artists and formally recognises the important role artists play in place-making. To us it means engaging with our community, connecting humans with big ideas in a nourishing and all-inclusive way, and scaling things back to raw basics in an over-developed city. A place doesn’t have an identity unless it tells a story, so let’s allow the artists to be authors! Website: frankandmimi.com Instagram: frankandmimi
DO YOU REMEMBER THAT ONE TIME ? Shannon Toth is an Architecture student at QUT who creates ink drawings responding to place. The following spread is an illustration drawn of Brisbane from memory. For me, place making is constructed through our memories. When I first moved to Brisbane it seemed more like a maze of one way streets and shiny tall buildings than a place. A space is turned into a place when it becomes meaningful to a person. I drew this map of the parts of Brisbane I have visited from memory. I deliberately didn’t use reference pictures to see what my brain would decide was most important to draw. The result ended up being a collection of little stories. The type of stories you share amongst friends with the opening line, “Do you remember that one time?” For me place cannot be manufactured it is product of human emotion, activity and narrative. Instagram: shannontothart
‘‘Imaginary Land’. Artwork by Shannon Toth: Ink and watercolour on Paper (To Right) ‘‘Do You Remember That One Time?’’ Artwork by Shannon Toth: Ink,on Paper (Next page).
I D E A In the previous two issues we tracked the process and creations of two third-year fashion students. Again we follow the same measure. Cielle Marchal and Felicia Balsategui open up about the foundings of their graduate collections and the influence the notion of place has on their work and themselves as individuals.
T I O N
Interview by Tom Emmett
CIELLE Your collection is about post-apocalyptic Earth, why did you start with that? I think subconsciously it stemmed from this painting my Dad did, or not a painting but an ink drawing that my Dad did that I have in my bedroom sitting above my bed and it’s a drawing of these two robot humans holding hands on a rock in this mechanical, futuristic mangrove jungle near Byron Bay. And in the background you can see the lighthouse and it has a little sign saying Byron Bay, 2020. Because in the future, obviously the world is going to shit, not really. And to imagine this futuristic world where we were actually robots and there’s little robot bugs flying around. Oh no! Yeah. So I think that kind of has always been in my head but I didn’t realise it til after the presentation how it has affected my work and my concept. So from there it just came up, just one day it popped into my head, this concept of having a post-apocalyptic world, like 200 years from now. And all, or most, of the natural environment is destroyed from global warming, or who knows what. And there is this community of people who are creating clothes inspired by the bark that trees used to create and inspire within people, just how they were beautiful and lived in all this clean air, relaxing environments. And then I took inspiration from abstract artists like Cy Twombley and Heather Chontos. And then there was the androgynous element that came into it because I imagined the future community people to be androgynous, for some reason. Not androgynous, but genders weren’t as prominent as they are now; the women aren’t extremely feminine and sexualised and the men aren’t very masculine and the kind of brutal image we have of them these days: they’re as strong as each other and they’re equal in the way they interact and live in the community.
So then I looked into the Dandy boys and the Teddy Girls from the post-war movement in the 1950s and 60s and how they were a survivalist generation and they wanted to express themselves in a unified kind of way. You’ve done a fair bit of print making with your Dad’s artworks? Yes. I initially wanted to create my own sort of abstract art but I liked the idea of using Dad’s art as prints because they tie into my concept. I only used the drawings he did which had natural environments portrayed and it’s reflecting on the reminiscent aspects of my concept, reminiscing of the world as it used to be, passed lives. And then you’ve used shibori on some on the prints and also blank material, why did you choose that technique? Initially, in early stages of the concept, I wanted to create textures and textile manipulations which were a reflection of the bark of trees; gum and eucalyptus trees, specifically. There are some gum trees where the sap has leaked out and they have those knobbly bits where the sap has built up. Just a rough texture. On some painting samples I did I laid it on the tree, the flat fabric and had a foam squidgee and painted over that to get the texture that was created by the bark of the tree. And that relates back into the concept of looking back at what nature once was. Yeah. Why did you choose your Dad as the artist you focus on? Last year I was thinking in the back of my head that I would like to use it somehow and he’s always said ‘it would be amazing if we could collaborate in doing something together, it would be cool to see my art in a fashion context’. I just thought it was a fun and humble idea, to do a little collaboration with my Dad. Photographs by Tom Emmett
You mentioned that you went on exchange last year to India? Yeah to India for six months. How was that? It was amazing. Very eye opening I guess. We did the Textiles course at NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) in New Delhi. We did a lot of print development…the course was print development and we used a lot of different kinds of art supplies and inspiration from natural elements. One of the tasks we did was to get leaves and paint them with bleach and then put them on photo inks on a piece of paper to see what kind of patterns emerged from that. We did so many things, like weaving and dyeing and bleaching and heat sublimation. Which is kind of where I got the idea for this (holds up sample) because we did our own artworks with the heat sublimation with these special inks in India and we heat pressed it into synthetic materials, 100% polyester. That was my thought at the beginning of the process but then I just went into getting it printed. Which is still heat sublimation because at Emerald Dreams they print onto a big piece of paper and then press it onto the material and it heat sets it. Material choices, how do you choose material? Is it informed by the print process and its limitations or are you drawn to certain materials? With the materials that I chose, I kind of wanted to have a futuristic feel to it, but I also wanted to incorporate how they’re reflecting on the natural environments, so using natural fibres but it just didn’t turn out that way. As you can see, most of my materials are synthetic and stretch and lycra, leather, plastics. So maybe that could reflect on, we have all this recycled material in the future and they are reusing it and upcycling it into synthetic garments. I read this article the other day how, I think it was Sweden, they only put one percent of their rubbish into landfill, the rest of it is recycled. Wow! And so they recycle all those materials, upcycling it. With the direction we’re going, there’s going to be a lot of upcycling and repurposing of materials. Voila!
And also because plastic doesn’t biodegrade, perhaps these will be readily available materials in the future? Yeah, and seeing that most of the natural environment will be destroyed there will be no way to gather, to create new cottons and silks and hemp. The theme of this issue is placemaking, what does placemaking mean to you? (Laughs). It just reminds me of making up placements on tables. Or perhaps how creative people draw from within their environments and what they’re influenced by. And that reflects in their creative works. You grew up in Paris? No I was there for two and a half years, when I was five to seven and a half, eightish. And before that I was in the Channon, in the Northern Rivers, just below the Queensland border. Then Paris for two a half years then we moved to Byron and Bangalow for three years and then to Lismore for most of my adolescence. Then I moved to Brisbane after my gap year, after high school. That’s quite a nomadic childhood, do you think that has in some way informed or influenced you or your work? It definitely has. I couldn’t tell you how in a specific way but it has definitely opened my eyes up to a lot of different aesthetics and environments. Because I grew up in Lismore and Dunoon and Byron Bay, it’s a pretty diverse area for hippie culture and a lot of environmentally conscious people aroud that area. Also my friends are very hippie-ish-esque and being around those people, both growing up and in Brisbane, definitely has influenced my concept and my work. Also being around my father’s artist friends and my mother’s potters friends and seeing their work in progress. And always in these obscure, homemade houses kind of in the bush, that are just a mess; all these canvases spread out everywhere, paints, ceramic, clay, all these obscure sculptures placed around their environment.
/51 It’s definitely, also my own home being like that sometimes when I was growing up. It was an abstract, surreal environment which I probably drew upon. And do you use that, somehow? Within the collection but also in your work or you as a person. Yeah, I’m definitely a pretty laid back and open minded person, generally. I can’t pin point how it influences me, but it definitely seeps through my creative process and work. Having the creative parents that I do there was always a high chance that I would end up doing something revolving around art. Fashion is a creative subject, but I always wanted to go a bit deeper. Creating art, wearable art pieces, abstract, weird futuristic creations based around the natural environment, because I grew up in the country. A lot actually. In France, during Winter we were in Paris and the other half of the year we were at my Grandparents’ country house. And it was just myself and my mother and father. My mum had her potter studio and my dad had his studio doing art and I just ran around with the farm animals and rode bikes. In the Channon I grew up pretty much naked by the creek, on the rocks hopping around playing with nature. And I think having such a close relationship with the nature, with the natural environment that I grew up in and my Mother being such a tree hugger, has obviously come
through in my work. Just appreciating what nature does for us, and a general overview of that. Do you want to get that message across to other people as well? Definitely, yeah. I should have mentioned this before, I don’t really know what I want to do after uni but we did this assignment is Case Class where we had to figure out what we want to do in the future, what we wanted to be. And I concluded that I want to be a designer in the future but first gaining that experience and background in the industry I wanted to be an Ethical Trade Coordinator. And I interviewed a few people who are in the industry, doing it right now; sourcing textiles and participating in Fair Trade business, sourcing it from minute communities throughout India and South America. And promoting the traditional and natural ways in which those communities create textiles, but not commercialising it so much that it’s unsustainable. So using those very niche traditional techniques and supplying those communities with the funds they need to keep doing it and promoting it so it’s not a lost craft. There’s so much potential for that. Exactly. It’s supporting the community, its giving them work where they can do something they want to do rather than being sent to a factory three hours away and being ripped off by whoever’s running that company. Instagram: sealhead
FELICIA Tell me about the starting point of your collection? I had this idea in my head of what I thought I was going to do this year, so I went to the library and I was looking through the magazine archives. And I found that, with the British and American Vogue, it’s very much the same. So I thought I’d look at Japanese Vogue to see what’s going on there and I saw the styles were a lot more fun, it’s sophisticated and stylish but also very quirky at the same time. There’s a lot of use of colour and print, and that’s something I’m very interested in. In my journal there’s an editorial from there that sparked the aesthetic I wanted to create. And from that I started researching a bit more and wrote down words I felt these images were evoking. And I found them to be dreamy states and hyper-real, and something not 100% quite right about what’s going on. So I looked into Surrealism and Salvador Dali and the idea of the melting clocks that he was trying to evoke as well. And so I was thinking of this idea of, it’s wearable essentially but there’s something not quite right about it. So I went into fabric research and I came up with lots of different textures that didn’t go together. Or prints didn’t work together, or colours that weren’t working. And I tried, somehow, to put those together in an interesting way. I don’t more so a concept, but rather an aesthetic and idea and attitude that I want to try to portray. You started with the aesthetic, do you want to do your own take on that and evolve it or just a continuation of it? I definitely want to evolve it in my own way and I guess the way I’m doing that is through my fabric manipulation and the prints that I’m creating as well. Using fabrics that you wouldn’t normally think of as fashion, like basketball apparel materials. Not many people would think of using sportswear fabrics in a fashion collection, so it’s a little bit left of centre.
Interview by Tom Emmett
Photographs by Tom Emmett
/55 You’ve got a whole range of prints you’ve made, and I see the Kodak image, Kodak Polaroids popping up. Where did that come from?
and ideas with wearable pieces.
I went to Reverse Garbage and I was looking for inspiration from there and found the Kodak squares, they were selling people’s old family photos. And I thought ‘this is so bizare’, it’s so weird. And it was so weird I thought it could be cool, imagine if. It worked back in to the Surrealism, Hyper-real vibe. I’m taking someone else’ photos and turning them into a print. I don’t know this person but it informed my design and I felt it went along nicely with the quirky, weird thing I’m trying to achieve.
F: With the sublimation printing you have to use a synthetic fabric so I had to really think about the fabric before the silhouette, because obviously it’s going to influence the design. But even then, I knew they had a basketball fabric and wanted to use that somehow.
And then you went further and started manipulating the scale of the photos and you came up with this new print. Tell me about that. I studied Graphics in school and then I did a year of it after school too, I like the idea of working with prints on the computer. I made this one up (holds up sample), but it was informed by the Kodak colours and then combining that with the idea of a warped glitter scan I did, it goes with Surrealist vibe that derives from my inspiration. I look at what catches my eye and it just informs my designs somehow. I just take little bits and pieces and it comes together. The digital print here, you got glitter and moved it around? I remember at school there was the scanner in the library and girls would move their hands down the scanner and it would warp your hands. Weird. I remembered that and was reading Toiletpaper Magazine with all their collages, and I like that collaged look. So I went to the scanner and started playing around with everything; fabric, glitter, how I move it on the scanner. That’s where it came from. How did you arrive at your silhouettes? The silhouettes are quite commercial just because of the fabrics and fabrications that I’m using. I wanted it to still be wearable. I took a lot of inspiration from Tokyo Fashion Week street style, I really like street style, so I wanted to combine all these weird aesthetics
You mentioned before you started with the materials because of the print process?
I remember going to stores when I was younger and they had clothes made out of this (basketball material) and they were really cheap and bad quality. It’s funny how you’re changing the perceived value of this material. Definitely. What was interesting was when I was looking for fabrics to print on, I said I was studying fashion and they said ‘Oh we only have sportswear fabric, sorry’, because that’s the only fabric you can print on. And I thought, that could be cool though, I don’t mind if it’s a sports fabric. And that’s why now, after printing on it and thinking about things binding, or layering with other fabrics to create something interesting. So I guess overall I’m taking a sporty, cheap fabric and turning it into something that looks cool. The theme of this issue is placemaking, what does placemaking mean to you? Basing things around your surroundings. Where your everyday life informs your design aesthetic or redesign and ideas. When I think of placemaking I think of taking the ordinary and using it to create something out of that. Did you grow up in Brisbane? Yeah I’ve lived here my whole life but my Dad is from Spain, so I’ve been to Europe quite a few times and I find, even in my travels at the beginning of the year, there’s something very refreshing that comes from travel. And when I design I think about it more it terms of an international level, I want to make stuff that I feel could sell over there or creative enough to compete with what’s going on over there.
Why do you think it’s refreshing to travel? I feel the overall level of creativity is a lot higher, especially compared to Brisbane. You have the opportunity to go, in Paris, to these high end stores and feel the garments and see how they are being made and apply that to your own designs. It’s interesting to see what they’re thinking of as well, it’s so new, cutting edge. And that’s what you want to be in this industry. And you went on exchange last year? Yeah to India for six months. We did a textiles course there. It was really good, because in this course the focus is on silhouettes and making, it was interesting to go there and, it was almost a step before that: how the fabrics are made, different techniques you can use, how the fabric becomes itself, so I think that especially as well to help me look and think about fabric more and what you can do to it and how the fabric really informs the design. Sometimes I think you can work backwards where you draw a design then pick the fabric but really it should be the other way around. That’s a good philosophy. I totally agree and that can be applied to so many other design disciplines too. So learning a lot about textiles has clearly filtered through your work, as you’re very hands on with all of these samples. I think it did inform, we did things like quilting and patchwork and then last semester I based my garments on patchwork and there’s quilting in this collection. So I think it’s made me have an interest in it. Something that I wouldn’t have thought about before.
India is renowned for its colour, do you think this played its part in your collection? Not necessarily, because colour has always been attracted to. I enjoy prints and colour but maybe it’s solidified that, being around such a vibrant place as India. I’m definitely using a different colour palette than I normally would in the past, but I don’t know if that’s just research and inspiration. Geographically speaking, designing in India compared to Australia, do you find much difference? I feel that they’re very focused on construction as opposed to aesthetics, in India. The designs are really good but sometimes it’s a bit lacking, maybe in the right colour choice or something. For example if they focus on making a jacket, they’ll make it really well but they don’t see the jacket in a broader picture, as in a collection. Because they’re amazing, if you could combine that with a bit of creative direction you could really create insane. Do you think learning about construction and materials over there and bringing that back to Brisbane, do you think it’s making your work better thought out? More justified? Subconsciously definitely. There’s no way you can go over there and it not influence your design. I don’t know if it has directly affected my work but it definitely just makes you think about things more. Like my understanding of fabric is a lot better than what it was before I went to India, it makes you think more about what you’re doing. Instagram: fisshh
Words by Ebony Fowler
19 JAMES STREET Ebony Fowler investigates the influence of a renovation by Brisbane architects Richards and Spence at 19 James St and the literal sense of ‘placemaking’. ‘It’s one of my favourite places in Brisbane,’ says young entrepreneur Bianca when discussing her experience of visiting Nineteen James Street. Sipping from a steaming mug of coffee poured by the bearded folk at Fonzie Abbotts Espresso, she remarks of her delight upon finding this hidden gem. ‘There’s a really nice energy about the place. It feels as though I’ve escaped from the city, the vines and cool materials set a relaxed tone. Yet it’s quintessentially cosmopolitan.’ Originally from Sydney, now residing in sunny Brisbane, Bianca is just one of many who frequent Nineteen James Street. As one turns from the suffocating traffic of Ann Street onto James, they are soon swathed by a lush canopy of Moreton Bay Figs overhanging the main drive of the hip inner city precinct. Curtains of illuminated facades are draped within the cooling shade, Australian clothing designers Camilla and Zimmerman being among the few high end retail stores to adorn the shopping strip. Stylish figures, likely inspired by the plethora of wardrobe offerings on James, stroll the street... en route to the tantalising menu at Gerard’s Bistro, perhaps? Boasting a nationally recognised menu and an equally tantalising interior fit-out, Gerard’s dining experience spills onto the central pathway of Nineteen James. Sheltered by a concrete awning embellished with tangled vines and bromeliads, the customers experience is inherently linked to the atmosphere evoked by the architectural features.
Photographs by Tom Emmett
Ingrid and Adrian of Richard and Spence Architects were faced with the task of reimagining the identity of the James Street precinct through an urban renewal venture established twenty years ago, with Nineteen James the second renovation conducted under this renewal act. The history of Nineteen James dates back to the late 20th century, where the site was once home to Coca Cola’s factory warehouse. The project of redesigning Nineteen James Street required the architecture adhered to a high street quality, where Luxury boutiques and fine dining could revel in a lucrative, atmospheric environment. Despite this, the design needed to retain a certain village feel, and facilitate a heavy flow of pedestrians, and cater for the needs and services of the buildings inhabitants. The existing network of streets, parking and paths which dip in and around the building needed to be taken into consideration in planning, ensuring that a drive for aesthetic qualities didn’t subtract from functionality and ease of use. The surrounding suburbs, New Farm and Tenerife, are rife with industrial heritage, notably the Woolstores along the Brisbane River. The area has witnessed a shift in the clientele due to significant redevelopment in the past 30 years, as Brisbane’s Urban density continues to swell. There is a noticeable absence of superfluous design elements, which could have stemmed from consideration of the areas industrial past. Also stemming from a restricting budget, the materials require little maintenance, therefore practical and economical in their application. A Myriad of white bricks invade the entire surface of Nineteen James’s façade, providing a sense of familiarity; the brick being a diverse material we are exposed to in many building typologies. Accompanied by concrete and black steel, the materials adhere to the precincts contemporary and metropolitan spirit. As a result, Nineteen James holds a distinct presence over the street, evoking a sense of sophistication and understated elegance, in touch with the areas industrial past, and unsuspectingly responsive to the bounds of a restraining budget.
/63 As a predominantly commercial and retail space, Nineteen James Street required a façade with a high level of permeability, one that created a seamless link between the onlooker and the contents of the internal spaces. Large panes of glass frame each stores frontier, allowing the inhabitants to contribute to the streetscape. One of the glass boxes fronting James Street carpark belongs to Optiko; the transparent façade allows the customer to browse almost their entire collection of optical glasses merely by passing the window. This presents an opportunity for the customer interaction to extend into the evening, once the store is closed and the street is alive with diners. ‘I feel comfortable when I’m here, any sense of urgency tends to dissipate’, says Toby, a regular visitor of James Street. The building has an intimate quality which can be felt as one meanders within and around, despite the double height façade. A sense of grandeur, yet at the same time envelopment, is evoked. Palm trees accentuate the height of the building, whilst draping vines off an awning of concrete reestablishes the intimacy aforementioned. The features of Nineteen James denote a sense of connection to a network of buildings and pathways, and a sense that the building will grow into itself, and develop a characteristic patina over time. The building has been stripped back, exuding an essence of practicality and robustness, whilst easing gently into the street with its permeable façade, and large glass panels. Despite the renovations apparent success in adhering to the taste of the style savvy, has the gentrification of New Farm and Fortitude Valley been to the detriment of a more direct link with the local community? A lost opportunity to enrich the culture of James Street and introduce an even greater vibrancy to the atmosphere? The internal passageways are indicative of the laneway concept, such as seen in Winn Lane, but don’t offer the same cultural exchange. Perhaps this tie could be strengthened by the addition of local artists ornamenting the walls with their art? Imagine transitioning from the carpark to the Main Street only to be surprised along the way by a carved sculpture propped amongst the leaves, or an elegant light installation hanging from the wall, masterfully crafted by an ambitious young creative.
/65 Small scale designers are unlikely to afford the spaces offered by James Street whereas more established brands can afford premium real estate, resulting in an exclusion from the central market place. Should Nineteen James Street have been a canvas, a conglomerative space in which both national and local designers could intermingle? This is perhaps a naive notion as the development procedure is often strictly driven by time constraints and tight budgets, but should it be? It raises the question however, to what extent is it the responsibility of the architects, the designers, the creative community to push for these spaces to be about something more meaningful. If they don’t have the power or authority to do this, then the public realm and public spaces will continue to be purely commercial endeavours that contribute to an erosion of the existing culture. Designers withhold an enormous responsibility to transform the way people perceive space, and in the case of Nineteen James, play an important role in the success of the business’s within. There always remains opportunities to add and subtract a buildings components, whilst retaining its core principles. The simple and clean design of Nineteen James provides a space which is adaptable to changes yet at its very heart there lies an innate ability to provide tranquility and refuge from the bustle of city living. It is the role of the architect to formulate a level of authenticity within a space which meets the expectations of its users. A building which speaks meaning to it’s inhabitants, a building that will age gracefully, and withstand transitional cultures and trends. In this case, Nineteen James Street exceeds these expectations, propelling one of Brisbane’s most stylish commercial hubs into a category of its own. Instagram: jamesstbne
STUDIO S PA C E S Does oneâ€™s workspace influence their work? What creates a suitable environment for one to create, build, draw, sculpt or craft? In Studio Spaces we talk to and photograph five creatives in their studios: a typographer, sculptor, two guitar builders and a painter. Mhairianne Macleod visits the four studios and asks about the link between the work and the space.
Interviews by Mhairianne Macleod
Photographs by Mhairianne Macleod
TOM Tom Emmett is a sculptor who creates works in wood, foam plaster and stone. He also studies Industrial Design at QUT. I work out of a shed in our backyard. It’s a great space with lots spots to store all kinds of tools, materials, objects. Not much gets thrown out, it’s a bit of a mess. I guess it’s the perfect place to let the imagination run wild, everything in there has a story, a memory attached to it. I love the ordinariness about it, that it’s not painted white and clean and neat. I find the chaotic environment very stimulating. Positively. I think it grounds my work, somehow. I’m a sculptor, primarily choosing to work in direct-carving, where I start with a solid block of wood or stone or foam and take material away. I love the idea of starting with something mundane and ordinary and then bringing out the beauty in that material. And I think that’s a bit like life as well, as we grow and learn we become better people, more beautiful souls. And also that everyone has a talent or beauty or gift within them, and part of the journey is finding that and doing it as best you can. I think if everyone did what they loved, and trying to help others, the world would be a better place. My studio, or shed, is a place also a place of solitude and reflection. Carving is a lot of work and so I find myself almost in a meditational state as I repetitively strike the hammer, or guide the chisel or sand the surface. But then when a really upbeat song comes on I like to jump around a bit and dance, somehow trying to put that energy and happiness into my work. Website: tomemmett.tumblr.com Instagram: tomemmett_
LEONA Leona Fietz is a graphic designer, typographer and illustrator living in Brisbane. I borrow on elements of every day life (punny jokes between friends, frustrations, lyrics, self reminders) to create type based illustrations and brushworks for exhibitions, personal identities and editorial submissions. I spend any time when I’m not at my part time job selling art supplies, in my leafy covered sunroom studio based in East Brisbane. I’ve been in this space for 6 months - before this I could fall off my chair onto my bed and would be sleeping next to sheets and sheets of drying brushwork. I can get too close to work and struggle with knowing when to get perspective. I would work myself into a frenzy of frustration, getting stuck on details for too long. So now my bedroom is separate to my studio space. I’ve got a dedicated drawing desk and separate smaller one for my computer when I scan, vector and clean up in Photoshop. This setup allows me to focus on one thing at a time, little things like having windows all around me to stick up my process work and enough space to physically step back helps me make clearer decisions for the next stage. Anytime from 4pm onwards is probably my favourite time to work. Going into that golden hour, knowing there are fewer distractions, I tend to be more guilt free about how I’m spending my time and use it to experiment more and do personal work. I recently introduced a couch to my space – It can get lonely sometimes. So having friends around for moral support while inking something up can really speed the process along. I find myself working faster and procrastinating less in the final stages if I’m listening to a podcast or a friend is over and we’re chatting – less thinking (freaking out) and more doing! Website: leonafietz Instagram: leonafietz.com.au
HANCOCK Brother Sean and Dane create bespoke guitars for their family run workshop, Hancock. Based on the Gold Coast their pieces take around 200 hours to make. The studio we are in now is the first commercial space we’ve worked from. Before this we had four different home workshops. Every time we changed work spaces we have tried to improve the way the studio functions and make it more efficient. Everything about the studio effects our work. The layout and design, the colours, the tools and books around, the people who visit, the music playing, all of it effects your creative headspace and changes your work. Our studio is located in an industrial area so there is very little nature around. We have been careful to make the internal structure as inspiring as possible. We have used a lot of timber fittings to balance out the concrete walls. Luckily there is the beach nearby if we really get stuck for natural inspiration. The current space is the largest we’ve had and also the first time we’ve had a reception open to the public. It has a different feel from before, always more busy, and this influences the way we are building guitars and even the designs themselves. I think there is a decisiveness in the design and execution of our guitars now which was not there before. We have tried to customise the fitting out of our workshop to function the best way possible for building guitars. An example is have done away with large fixed benches in the current workspace. Most of the tables are the same size, just right for putting a guitar on. They are also lightweight and can be moved around and joined to form bigger tables as needed. Website: hancockguitars.com
JESSIE Jessie Lee Nash, a Brisbane based painter who works with oil, is currently studying at the Queensland College of Art. The concept of ‘place’ is something that I am constantly considering and acknowledging in my small studio at which majority of my creative output takes place. The space is shared, hosting studio spaces for multiple people, meaning the atmosphere is influenced by a bunch of different creatives. This is great in my opinion, as it means falling in to absolute ruts is quite difficult, as you are constantly surrounded by motivation and influence. As far as my individual space in particular, however, the connection between what goes on the walls, what work I make, and how I feel while in the space, is far more personal. I treat this space as somewhere which isn’t a ‘representation’ of who I am, but more so a representation of what I want to achieve, or thoughts that occur in my mind on a daily basis. I make sure books are always present - you never know when you might run into a blank wall, and so having something to read and reignite your imagination is necessary. As far as my space influencing my work, and my work influencing my space, I think it is definitely an even balance. Although the space was obviously empty and bare upon my arrival, it only takes one photo to be stuck to the wall, one book to be placed on the shelf, to then feed my desire to make. I then make, and fill my space with more things which may inform my work. This carries on as a cycle, constantly bringing items into my studio, being inspired by these items, making work, and then my work inspiring me to investigate new items, objects, or subjects. Website: jessieleenash.com Instagram: jessieleenash
Words by Tom Emmett
A LOOK AT HENRY WILSON Is there a future for Australian Manufacturing? Can designers do anything about it? Tom Emmett attempts to grapple with this notion by talking to Australian designer and entrepreneur Henry Wilson. “Everything I make is very local, it’s all made in Sydney” Henry Wilson muses, “The foundry is not far out of town, just out of the CBD. The timber work gets done near the Blue Mountains. It’s all really local in terms of how it’s all made. I sort of designed it that way”. Henry Wilson, the Sydney based Industrial Designer, is apart of a new crop of Australian designers who believe in and utilise Australian manufacturing. Gaining acclaim for his series of sand-cast ‘A-Joints’ and subsequent pieces from that family, Henry resumes a unique business model for young designers where he is in control of everything from conception to manufacturing to retail and installation. Compared to the traditional model of licensing a design to a manufacture and receiving royalties, Henry notes that he “didn’t have that opportunity when I was starting out, so I decided to take it upon myself to self-produce the work”. Starting up and overhead costs are a very real concern in this arena, but he “managed to get a small loan and get it off the ground pretty easily. I was really lucky with the A-Joint range in particular, because it wasn’t a massive start-up cost to get it running”. Photographs by Henry Wilson
/87 Although starting off and becoming established through self-manufacture he notes that he is moving into the area of “working with manufacturers and talking about receiving royalties and licensing”. This model frees the designers up to focus their energies on other tasks, instead of getting down in the “drudgery of getting suppliers costs down and trying to market the product and sell it”. However at the same time, it is a risky move financially, with most designers receiving royalties of 3-5% of the wholesale cost of objects sold. Some designers I’ve spoken to, who worked in Europe licensing designs and selling them, estimate that you need 15-20 well selling products on the market to make a living. Apart from the difficulty of getting into that game, perhaps this is another reason why designers are converting to self-managed production (however it must be noted that this is not the same as a designer-maker). It’s also “really rewarding to build a brand” says Henry. “You really have to think about what you’re doing and your customer as well”. He quickly adds that “you realise just how much work that is and also whilst in the beginning it’s quite creative and fulfilling, you do quickly learn it’s a business game”. Idealistically, and perhaps naively too, one may assume that adding the phrase “Made in Australia” to a product or item may increase its appeal to consumers. Tapping into the customer’s loyalty to Australia and supporting the domestic Australian economy. Henry has other thoughts: “a Made in Australia element in really good to have, but it’s funny, it’s probably more because you can turn things around quickly and you can do things on time and often on budget in Australia” giving reason why people would choose his furniture over European or American manufacturers. They often experience “problems with lead times and fitting into build project” says Henry. For the high-end market which Henry is targeting, perhaps national pride doesn’t play much of a role. But should it? What if Government insisted that all their office furniture be Australian made? This would certainly spark an incentive for manufacturers around Australia to produce more, and creating competition to drive the price down to win the bidding process.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, CEO of the Australian Furniture Association Patrizia Torelli noted that if every government department was furnished by Australian furniture, the impact on the industry would be “astounding”. “Manufacturing in Australia is actually very difficult because the cost of production is quite high” says Henry. As a smaller designer he is often “restricted with what you can produce and the amount of risk the manufacturers are willing to take on with you. If you have a thing for not many numbers and you don’t know how they’re going to sell, most manufacturers aren’t going to be too forthcoming with their time. And that’s fair enough because they’ve got to make it all stack up” he further adds. It appears to be a Catch 22 situation, high prices for objects and furniture lead consumers to buy imported goods, unless there are able to afford high end and high quality. Even then the furniture isn’t always chosen for being Australian made, but rather it’s more convenient for the project. An unwillingness from manufacturers to take on risk and support independent designers (although is volatile economic times like these, this is fair perhaps) and high labour costs/transport costs add to the price of the finished product. Cost appears to be the issue. Should it though? Should consumers buy quality, wellmade objects that last for decades rather than the duration of renting a shared house? More often than not this is cheaper over the long term. Perhaps due to influences such as social media, the immediacy of information and our appetite for instant gratification and the rise of fashion in day to day life, this concept is becoming imbedded within our lives. But is it the right concept? Should designers take a collective responsibility and aim to change attitudes like these? Selling the product in a physical retail store increases the cost further, with the wholesale cost being multiplied between 100-200% in most retailers. If the manufacturers sold directly to the public, this would drive the cost down and also give them extra profits.
Henry uses both models, selling directly to clients via his online shop and person-person but also through retailers like Cult, who stock many Australian designers as well. So what is the answer? If there even is one? “I don’t think every designer should be an entrepreneur and try to chase Australian companies to make their products” says Henry, “I think it should be Australian companies who look inwards and go ‘Hey hold on, we’ve got to do something about our manufacturing, let’s get a designer in to look at what we have and do something with what we have. It has to be a holistic choice like that”. Australia being a young country, and young in terms of our manufacturing industry, doesn’t have the tradition of utilising the ‘decorative arts’ or even designers to improve their product. Graduates from the Bauhaus in Germany were enlisted to create products for the home in Europe, British ceramic giants like Wedgewood and Royal Doulton both have long histories of collaborating with designers. More recently the Italian manufacturing players like Cappellini, Flos and Alessi have dominated the scene, using esteemed, ‘name’ designers to produce objects with their manufacturing capabilities. Why isn’t it done in Australia? Henry suggests that maybe it’s “because we haven’t established ourselves as designers very well as Australians. I think we have incredibly talented designers, but in the realm of product design we don’t exactly have a big talent pool”. In the process of a rebranding or restricting within a company, Henry adds that “when the stakes are really high you might turn to European designer to do something for you because there’s more over there with a better track record or knowledge for building those kinds of areas”. Adam Goodrum, an Australian Industrial and Furniture designer who has worked for Cappellini (Italy) and Tait (Australia) recently collaborated with the re-branded Australian furniture company Cult (previously Corporate Culture) to produce a relatively large range of household furniture pieces. Cult stock Henry’s pieces too, in fact they stock a number of Australian designed and manufactured works. “People like Adam and Trent Jensen and Charles Wilson have, in a way, legitimised Australian design in the public eye” says Henry “But what I was trying to reflect on is the
larger scale. Adam’s range at Cult is great but it’s a relatively small market. It’s not a mass produced component”. That sums up Australian manufacturing perfectly: small, niche, well-made but not mass produced and not accessible to the average consumer. Can this be turned around? The end of the mining boom is upon us already which will slow the economy further in years ahead. As a result there will likely be a widening gap in the Australian economy. With the current cost of living very high and the cost of employment very high, it seems unlikely that the manufacture of low-cost objects will resume. It appears that it’s a combination of factors at play here: high cost of labour, cheap goods available from overseas, lack of design direction in companies. Is it the public’s fault for not supporting Australian business? Opting for cheaper goods? Mass production has most certainly been the path to social and economic liberation. But at what cost? Environmental concerns top the list, with little to no thought given to what happen when a plastic product breaks or is thrown out. Sure they may make our lives easier, but what’s the real cost, and who pays? Placemaking for Henry is “in any context, is about making something fit for where you live and how you live. I think a lot of designers when they’re starting out and one of the things you do at university is you’re trying to experiment and do things with the process, that kind of discovery. And I think that is absolutely really valuable to do that work. But inward reflection at some point about how people will use this product and asking yourself hard questions like, would you use this product? Would you buy this? Would you actually have this in your house? Would you use it with your friends? Would you let your Mum sit on this chair? Those kind of things are questions that when you start to ask yourself those, you think, ‘Oh I’ve really got to decide is this good enough?’. And are you making it for an actual environment or are you just making it for yourself. And I think that time when you can really start to design things that you know will actually fit in places and be part of rooms and become part of the fabric of someone’s life then I suppose that’s making something for a place”.
/93 Perhaps that’s the point when one becomes a designer, when they think of and envision how their design or product or object will fit into someone’s life and what effect it has on them. Social media has begun to play with this concept, as everything is two-dimensional and in photo form, perhaps giving designers other motives to produce work. If, today and in the future, the value and worth and judgement of a product is how popular it is on Instagram or Facebook or a design blog or website, where will that leave the physical world in the future? Sure it may be aesthetically pleasing, but if it’s not functional or ergonomic or usable, what point is the product? Should objects like this even be considered design? But rather part of the decorative arts or even art itself? The world is now fuller of objects and design now than it ever has been. Shouldn’t this spur designers to think more about the objects they produce and how they fit into real life, as opposed to creating for the Internet, and appeal only to our visual senses? Perhaps in the Western world we are part of, where our standard of living so high we don’t think about these notions and concepts because our basic needs and wants are met already, leaving us to produce unnecessary objects. Unless fundamental shifts in the way our economy, and society, function then we cannot give up producing items. It is unfeasible (based on the current model). With this in mind, objects should be more thoughtful and considered so they have a clear and distinct raison d’etre It’s an interesting time to be a designer today. On one hand things are easier than ever: materials, information, knowledge, contacts all readily available at ones fingertips. It’s also one of the hardest: a saturated market place, a global marketplace where anyone can design, drying up of natural resources and, in Australia, a dying manufacturing scene. How does one stand out in an environment like this? According to Henry Wilson it’s by producing carefully considered, quiet objects that allow the entertainment of the room take the lead role. Combining locally made products with a philosophy for simple, long lasting objects his model of business, manufacturing and design may be the way forwards into the future. Website: henrywilson.com.au Instagram: henrywilsonstudio
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Issue 6 of D/zine explores the concept of Placemaking through a series of articles, interviews, photographs and artworks.