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Launching OKO OLO at Melbourne Design Week

With outstanding track records in design, Genevieve Hromas and Juliet Ramsay have been working on the found and the formed with OKO OLO.

Launching OKO OLO at Melbourne Design Week

I once saw Genevieve Hromas cycling down Crown Street in Sydney’s Surry Hills in a hot pink, iridescent, pleated and strapless dress. She was amazing. She still is.

Moving on from her role as designer director with Arent&Pyke, where her design acumen was exemplary and often ran to curved marble inclusions of scale that then were echoed as detailing, Hromas has always had a particular eye that can only be described as equal parts art and design. As such, it is no surprise to learn her latest endeavour OKO OLO is firmly at the crossroads of these disciplines.

Partnering with Juliet Ramsey (Oyster Magazine, Sass & Bide art director), the pair have a great breadth of design and art-making experience, working across disciplines such as functional sculpture, textiles and printmaking, and interior architecture.

In conversation since childhood, Genevieve and Juliet’s growth as creatives stems from a long, deep shared experience. From their early years at the progressive school, Currambena, they were surrounded by utopian opportunists, and immersed in creative influences, from film, contemporary craft and fine art to architecture. They went on to later study design together at Enmore Design Centre with Juliet pursuing fashion and design while Genevieve studied interiors and furniture design. In 2O2O, the pair started experimenting with textiles, stone and bronze casting and have spent the last three years balancing design industry work with the creation of their first functional object collection.

Related: Fearon’s sculptural and playful furniture

This common ground gives the collaboration fluidity and strength. Whether in reverence to past makers or a fascination with contemporaries, this discourse informs and inspires their practice. Speaking directly to their inaugural exhibition to be launched at Villa Alba this year’s Melbourne Design Week, both are fascinated by the possibilities of re-imagining new purposes and combinations of found objects through the exploration of materials from natural and manufactured worlds.

Exploring the interplay between ‘found’ and ‘formed’, each piece of the collection is a unique and authentic exploration of both the characteristics of its materiality and its counterpart, the formed element. Materiality, however, is glorious throughout, with the volcanic rock of River Rock tables, glazed ceramic handle of Mirrored Plinth, and the cast facsimiles of ocean stone handles on The Plank Cabinet bringing this home.

Expressing re-use, limiting waste and utilising a mindful archaeology of materials, the works overtly traverse resources: timber, metal (both sheet and cast), stone, mirror, ceramics, fabric, paper and found objects across a diverse collection of pieces. Experimenting with paper-dying and mark-making, for example, the Illumination series presents a glowing expression of functional sculptures.


Andy Stephens, Jessica Hromas

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