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5 minutes with Tom Fereday on OMNI

Developed in collaboration with Earp Bros, OMNI is an entirely new design direction for designer Tom Fereday. We get the insights about the winner of The Object category from the 2019 INDE.Awards.

Part object, part building block – coming together with immense versatility, OMNI is much more than furniture. We put some questions to designer Tom Fereday about the winner of The Object at the 2019 INDE.Awards, presented in partnership with Haworth.

Indesignlive: What’s the concept and inspiration behind OMNI, how is it different from other products?

Tom Fereday: OMNI reinvents the traditional breezeblock to offer an entirely new approach to building and interior design. By transforming the breezeblock form to provide a faceted modular block, OMNI allows for a multitude of new and innovative applications to be built and designed.

Offering both straight and 45-degree angles to be achieved simply by flipping the brick, OMNI was designed and proportioned to allow for an array of angular forms to be created – including but not limited to L shaped walls, undulating surfaces, columns and even coffee, dining and bar tables.

Can you tell us about the design process for OMNI? What was the brief you received from Earp Bros and how did you collaborate?

We had previously collaborated two years earlier. Earp Bros hosted our solo exhibition ‘PROCESS’ held within its new Sydney showroom. From this show, the suggestion to develop a new piece for the brand was raised and we began discussions around what this piece could be. Eventually, our studio was briefed to design a new breezeblock for Earp Bros to be available worldwide.


Were there any challenges in the development that you needed to overcome and how did you?

We had many challenges in producing the unique shape of the OMNI breezeblock. Even though simple in geometry, its non-linear form meant that we had to create and develop an entirely new tooling process for the piece. 


How does materiality come into play?

OMNI is initially offered in dry pressed cement in off white, grey and black. We’ve continued to develop the piece and are launching a terracotta version this month at Earp Bros’ Brisbane showroom, alongside an installation of the breezeblocks. 

Can you share more generally your design approach and philosophy?

My approach to design is simply stated as ‘Honest design’, conveying a design process that celebrates the materials and processes behind furniture. I strive to create innovative new designs while retaining an authenticity through the use of natural materials and tactile finishes, the desired result being to create objects that have a genuine connection with people.


Are there any key findings from this project that have changed your thinking?

OMNI represents our first endeavour into designing products for the built environment and it has been fascinating to learn about this unique area of design. It is a space that holds a lot of potential for design and an area we’re interested to continue working in.

“Breezeblocks become space invaders to transform your inner sanctum.”

– INDE.Awards 2019 Jury


Thank you to Haworth – The Object partner of the INDE.Awards 2019.

OMNI photography by Jason Busch. PROCESS exhibition photography courtesy Tom Fereday.

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