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Indesign #51 celebrates the career of luminary Ross Didier, currently on newsstands, this was marked by an event in Melbourne last week
Where do we draw the line between art and design? If you’re furniture designer, Ross Didier, with numerous collections to your credit and a fine art sensibility that feeds into whatever you do, there’s no need for a line at all.
For him the two disciplines are merely ends of the creative spectrum, a continuum that he moves up and down freely, depending on the project he’s working on at the time, be it a range of contemporary corporate furniture, a quirky solution he has custom-designed to particular brief, or an art work. However, he does maintain that the need to satisfy function makes design more demanding – with fine art you only have to please yourself – and function is something Didier has great respect for.
In little more than a decade, Ross Didier has produced around ten distinctive ranges of furniture, including the Obelisk range and his Start 914 chair which are produced under licence in the UK and Italy respectively, for international distribution. There are his Felix and Quoin lounges, Bombala chairs and Elfin stools, the Connected range and, notably, the kangaroo fur chairs he created for Melbourne’s renowned Vue de Monde restaurant.
Kangaroo Fur Chairs for Vue de Monde
Along the way he has established a successful design and manufacturing business – which can have been no easy feat in this economic climate. And he has created a brand with a reputation for ideas, clever engineering, character and quality, that is represented in Australia and in New Zealand by leading design retailers. While this trajectory was by no means a clear plan from the beginning, he must be doing something very right.
Bombala Lounge Chair
Didier established his studio in 2000. The small company, now called simply Didier, has a staff of five, including his wife, Libby, and his father, Max, whose well-regarded office furniture business, Moderntone, operated in Melbourne for many years. Didier himself has moved well past the designer/maker stage to a point where his commercial ranges are manufactured in increasingly large production runs. His designs are created, prototyped and assembled, from components produced by local or international specialist trades or suppliers, at the company studio and factory in Heidelberg, Melbourne.
Didier’s hands-on production and industry expertise allow him to retain quality control of his major ranges and to produce small-run custom designs. “I understand what it means to manufacture,” he says. “I’ve been on the factory floor, I’ve been in the spray booth, I’ve been in there gluing, and carving timber and working on machinery.”
This is an excerpt of a text by Jan Howlin that appears in Indesign #51.
Luminary Event Photos © Gustav Kollar