If 28-year-old Henry Wilson were not a designer, he would be a skipper. After one chaotic trip to the Milan furniture fair several years ago, Wilson began to question the necessity of producing new things in a “stuff”-saturated world. So he found a timber boat and sailed it from Spain to Thailand. After the trip, he says, he had gained some jarring perspective on the size of the world and his relative place in it.
Making existing things better is a common thread through Wilson’s work. For “Things Revisited,” his 2010 graduate collection for Design Academy Eindhoven, he developed clever, almost cheeky reinterpretations of classic objects. For instance, his take on the Anglepoise reenvisions a wartime task lamp with a glass shade and an LED light source. The Le Creuset trivet lid includes a bracket stand to enable the lid to double as a trivet. The leather Tolix chair cover, which he’s begun producing himself in limited editions, adds a humanizing warmth to Xavier Pauchard’s original 1934 design. Wilson’s latest project is the A-joint, a new joinery system allowing anyone to put together strong structures with preexisting timber—a democratic update to the classic A-frame sawhorse.
While many of his Eindhoven colleagues are forging their careers in Europe, Wilson spots a ripe opportunity in Australia, his home country. “I see design’s focus shifting to our region, and I’d like to nurture it,” he says. He established his own studio in Sydney in 2010 and last year began collaborating with local designer Trent Jansen, harnessing abandoned retail spaces to jumpstart a Sydney design gallery. Known as Trent & Henry, the gallery also functions as a retail and workshop space dedicated to showcasing homegrown talent. As Australia continues to grow as a design hub, we won’t be surprised to see Wilson commanding the helm.