Practical, stylish, and transitioning easily between spaces, Australian furniture design is imbued with healthy doses of all the things that make our nation distinct: playfulness, a hardworking attitude, a diverse range of international influences, and a comfortable humility.
February 22nd, 2018
There must be something in the water down here. Over the past few years, Australian furniture design has gone from strength to strength, with our country’s idiosyncratic design aesthetic becoming ever more apparent with every handcrafted table, chair, and bookshelf.
The next generation of up and coming talent in Australian furniture design has all these qualities in spades. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, they’re designing the chairs that we want to sit in, the tables that we want to be eating at and the shelves that we want our favourite books to nestle into: in short, they’re designing the backdrops for the kind of lives we want to lead. So what are you waiting for? Step away from the flat pack and read on for the most exciting furniture designers to grace the Australian design stage recently.
Proving that what’s old can almost always be revived and made new again, SKEEHAN studio combines classic functional design with a touch of luxe and impeccable craftsmanship. Straddling the line between mid-century chic and contemporary cool with perfect ease, SKEEHAN’s collection of furniture is small but solid – functional, considered, and uncompromisingly stylish. From the sober, frank minimalism of the Hoshi lounge collection to the smoothly upholstered forms of the Edition range, SKEEHAN delights in taking a deft hand to paring materials and forms back to their bare minimums.
Laced with plenty of classic cool – the Hup Hup chair, which can be hung on a wall, is redolent of Joseph Kosuth’s 1965 One and Three Chairs – SKEEHAN’s furniture is the kind that works well both as a collection and as individual pieces.
A relatively young practice, Apparentt was established in 2016 by husband and wife team Elliot and Lousie Gorham. Playful, fresh, and modern without feeling trendy, furniture by Apparentt is tied together by generous use of blonde timber and simple, clean geometric forms. Every aspect of their diverse offering – which spans from stools and tables to drawers and lamps – feels perfectly balanced and carefully considered.
The Gorhams bring an Australian practicality to designer furniture: think footrests on stools, visible braces on desks, and neat perforated handles on drawers. This is offset by an idiosyncratic playfulness that manifests itself in a whimsical colour palette with names to match, including Highlander green, Jupiter Jazz pink, Bee Hall yellow, and Red Leather ochre.
To look at H.R. McCarthy’s hefty portfolio of handcrafted wooden furniture is to take a trip down memory lane. White painted brick walls, well-loved floorboards, and bare casement windows are the backdrop to quiet, understated pieces of furniture – this could be any of the many houses that you knew from your childhood and adolescence in the idylls of suburban Australia.
Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine a house that H.R McCarthy’s furniture wouldn’t look at home in. In equal parts unpretentious, classic, and timeless, the beautifully crafted collection of furniture draws inspiration from McCarthy’s time working locally and in Japan, and classic forms and beautiful joinery abound. The Brunswick-based maker’s furniture is rooted in charmingly functional beginnings – initially, McCarthy started making furniture because he needed it to furnish his own home. Today, even as his business has bloomed into a full-time gig, he still believes that good furniture must be three things: useful, sturdy, and long-lasting.
If you’re after furniture that’s a little bit quirky, a little bit kitsch, and a whole lot delightful, Felix Furniture might just be what the doctor ordered. The brainchild of yet another creative couple, Felix Furniture was established in 2014 and since that time has reimagined furniture as not only one of the most basic functional aspects of a home, but as an opportunity for exuberant, imaginative design exploration.
The Felix Furniture story starts two decades ago, when Antonia Morrongiello would watch her father, Felix, build furniture from scratch. Fast forward to years later, when Antonia met Ian Anderson, a Scotsman with a background in cabinet making and a passion for building practical, stylish solutions to everyday problems. What started out as the couple’s weekend hobby restoring furniture became their full-time hustle named for Antonia’s father Felix, who has since passed away. Felix Furniture’s collection is playful and charming, making inventive use of unique materials – such as cork veneer – and form substitutes the conventional squares and rectangles with circles and curves.
The design career of George Harper, the Melbourne designer behind TIDE, had a somewhat unconventional start. A former office worker who embarked on a career change, George started out making chopping boards in his small backyard shed, and has sprung forth from these humble beginnings to become one of Australia’s most exciting young furniture designers. Favouring classic, clean lines and dark oiled wood, TIDE furniture demonstrates a real love and respect of timber that is scarcely found in today’s mass produced, largely disposable furniture.
The collection is designed and built to last, and is brought to life by the rich, unique textures of American Walnut and Oak from Tasmania and North America. From armchairs to side tables, coffee tables to sideboards – the collection is united by humility and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it granular attention to detail that reminds us that good things are often as unexpected and subtle as a change in TIDE.
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