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Just how obsessed are you with your design?

Is your work your obsession? For many designers, that’s certainly the case. A new exhibition at the Australian Design Centre explores the all-consuming drive to design, make, create and innovate.

  • Oliver Smith, photographed by Angus Lee Forbes.

When it comes to designing a furniture piece, obsessive behaviour can be a good thing… up until a certain point. Tasmanian furniture designer Laura McCusker believes that it can make you a great maker, but also send you into a tailspin – “caught inside your own head”, incapable of letting go.

“Going into the workshop on a regular basis is a way of moderating my obsession,” says Laura. “It’s like productive yoga” with physicality, movement and mindfulness. “I have a desire to be useful and productive and the closest I can come to it is when I’m in a workshop and making something.”

Laura McCusker in her workshop, photographed by Angus Lee Forbes.

Laura McCusker in her workshop, photographed by Angus Lee Forbes.

Not a bad obsession to have, really.

Laura is just one of 14 makers who features in a new exhibition presented by the Australian Design Centre in Sydney. ‘Obsessed: Compelled to Make’ delves into the psyche of its subjects to explore the nitty-gritty of designing and making. All is laid bare – the angst, failures, breakthroughs and milestones – all a necessary by-product it seems of creating beautiful work that resonates with users in the every day.

Explored through speaker sessions, imagery and video, ‘Obsessed’ captures the emotion with which each maker approaches their practice. “There’s a total holistic part of it that where your head is connected to your hand, that I just adore,” says Laura of working with timber. “On a more specific level, what I hope to do is elevate really quite simple and everyday materials to a level that people can see the beauty in them.”

Larapintine Studies by Elbowrkshp, photo by Nick Kreisler.

Larapintine Studies by Elbowrkshp, photo by Nick Kreisler.

Authenticity, says Laura, is embedded into her work through her cradle-to-customer relationship with each piece. From selecting the wood from the timber yard, working with the timber, pulling the splinters from her hands, finishing each piece, delivering it to the customer, and sitting down for a glass of wine with the new owners and enjoying the piece in its new home.

Some might call it obsession, others might simply call it the business of design. What does obsession mean to you?

Other artists include:

  • Elbowrkshp (Elliat Rich and James Young)
  • Gabriella Bisetto
  • Honor Freeman
  • Jon Goulder
  • Kate Rohde
  • Kath Inglis
  • Lorraine Connelly-Northey
  • Oliver Smith
  • Vipoo Srivilasa
  • Tjunkaya Tapaya
  • Louise Weaver
  • Liz Williamson

Obsessed: Compelled To Make’ runs until 24 March at the Australian Design Centre.

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