Elana Castle talks to Lou Weis about the historical inspiration for the collective’s latest limited edition design collection
March 7th, 2013
Broached Commissions, the Melbourne-based design collective have launched Broached East, a limited edition collection that investigates the relationship between Australia, China and Japan in the late 19th century.
“Broached is interested in how momentous events in history filter into the present,” explains co-founder Lou Weis. “Australia’s relationship to Asia has been a complex issue since settlement, the issue becoming particularly intense and polarised during the gold rush. It was during this period that trade with China, India and Japan really picked up as did our hostility to the migration of Asians en masse. We chose this period because it’s when so much of our sense of identity – as an outpost of Europe in the South Pacific – was cast.”
Weis worked closely with six artists and designers including Naihan Li, Keiji Ashizawa, Azuma Makoto, Adam Goodrum, Charles Wilson and Trent Jansen, the latter three all Broached Commissions founding and permanent design members.
Goodrum’s Inside Out Cabinet, Wilson’s Broached East Dressing Table and Jansen’s Chinaman’s File Rocking Chair all explore historical narratives and ideas stemming from the particular time period.
“Wilson’s dressing table is a delicate, petit piece, a return to the romance of the pre-modern dresser which subtly references classical Chinese aesthetics,” explains Weis. “However, the character of the dressing table has been made intentionally ambiguous with a sophisticated play between vernacular Chinese styles, highly advanced manufacturing, LED lighting technologies and the simple desire to create a work entirely committed to enabling a singular beauty.”
Ashizawa’s Ellipse Light highlights the combination of modernism dovetailed with Japanese craft while Li’s Armillary Whisky Bar and Makoto’s Paludarium Shigelu provide a strong historical understanding of the period. “Li brought an incredibly simple insight on the mentality of Chinese gold prospectors,” adds Weis. “She refused to believe that they were silent poor workers. Instead she saw them as adventurous and cheeky, willing to do whatever it took to get ahead.”
The combined collection is a uniquely bespoke, rich and impeccably crafted insight into the human and industrial stories of this critical period in Australian history.
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