Australia—the light-drenched island at the bottom of the world, the site of virgin white beaches, exotic air, and majestic wilderness, place to a vivid national surf culture, a heady tropical climate, and singular environmental challenges; is a country that champions the design of nationally-made products with a specificity of purpose and an aesthetic, unique to its geographical isolation.
Where some of the world’s design plays on sustainability as a motif of political correctness, Australian designers live environmental shortages, ecological fragility, and depletion as an everyday reality. These hurdles inspire out-of-the-ordinary thought and the use of new materials, so that in the creation of Australian design pieces, their forms and functions embody original ethical approaches and sustainability-conscious solutions. If there was a national Australian design creed, it might read something like: ecologically-savvy with a gently inventive edge.
We discovered five designers that exemplify this creed on a recent trip to Australia.
The economically graceful work of Chris Hardy is inspired by modernism, and the desire to make classic design with sustainable materials.
His minimal Pleat stools (seen here), Triple stools, and Paper pendants were shown with fanfare at Ventura Lambrate as part of The 2013 International Furniture Fair in Milan.
Charles Wilson is an industrial designer known for his curvy upholstered furniture. The organic shapes of his pieces echo the landscapes of his youth, the flat sheep and mining country of the farm he still lives at part-time, in Forbes, central New South Wales.
Wilson’s designs are also featured in collaborations with Danish companies MENU and Paustian, and Indian manufacturer Magppie.
Coco Flip, a multi-disciplinary design studio established by designer Kate Stokes, encompasses industrial, interior and graphic design. Moved by the desire to provide aids for escape or discussion, the lighting products emerging from this firm are delightfully shaped.
Copper, as a recyclable raw material, is a renewable resource that is beautiful to look at. Seen here, CocoFlip's Mr. Cooper Copper lamp.
Trent Jansen designs with elevated ecological ethics, as in his iconic Sign Stools, made from recycled road signs, which were further broken down to make his Cycle Signs bike reflectors, from the leftover materials of the recycled signs.
Jansen’s work is also inspired by the Australian landscape and its human history. The philosophical background of Chinaman’s File Rocking Chair, for example, draws on the early Chinese Miners in Australia. Other Jansen works allude to long ago settlers and Aboriginal customs.
New Zealander Rebecca Asquith shares the eco-friendly ethics of her Australian design colleagues. Her background as an indigenous Maori and a Lord of the Rings Trilogy film crew member, imbue her sustainable designs with something a little magical.