Sheffield Hallam Graduate

I am pleased to feature 2011 furniture & product graduate Adam Senior on my blog. To view his website click HERE. On his site are a number of press article that will give you a good overview of his major final year project, however in short:

The ergo stool and table was designed to cater for a changing world of work. With trends towards developing personal technologies and the ‘on-the move’ work ethos, these products offer an aesthetically stimulating and fluid working solution for both domestic and commercial spaces.

In use


After thought

In a Auckland foodcourt I found these chairs. The bar across the back looks like a grab handle or a coat hanger – but it isn't – its a retro fitted brace that stops the flimsy under engineered plastic shell from doubling over backwards and ejecting the sitter in the process.
Why has such a basic design requirement – safety and fitness for purpose – been ignored? COST is probably the answer. In order to reduce the chairs price the manufacturer has almost certainly reduced the amount of plastic injected into the shell (plastic costs are significant and this shell is paper thin) The cost they saved has probably been lost on manufacturing and retro fitting the bar across the back, but then again this was probably done by the food court owner in order to utilse the chairs ordered.

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Design an original chair that embodies and enhances a particular place, anywhere in the world but one you know and love, even if you don’t live there. We hope to see ideas from across the globe. Your concept might reinterpret local customs or start from scratch, but either way it should stimulate a tangible sense of belonging to its cultural and natural context. Demonstrate visually and verbally how your design springs from local conditions:

  • Identity of place
  • Regional ecology
  • Indigenous materials
  • Conservation of resources through form
  • Culturally determined notions of comfort
  • Social history

How does your design fit—right here? How does it create a good fit between people and place, a good fit for the body, a good fit for the ecosystem?

For more info click here.

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More Cardboard Furniture

The Elia website says: "Elia is all about making fun a hands-on experience. Elia products are a blast to put together and decorate, but that's not all. They are great teaching tools that show how simple, natural materials can be put together to create amazingly strong, useful things. Of course, they inspire creativity! And because they are 100 percent recyclable, you can always make fun in good conscience:

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Parker Tables

Per Dahlgren left the Bachelor of Product Design 3 years ago, then worked in the Unitec Generator and then joined furniture company IMO.
I visited he and Sam there a few months ago and Per was working on a new range of tables – The Parker tables are now in the market place and they look fantastic – well done IMO – more of this please.

About Imo:

Established in January 2004, IMO is a design-led business that provides a collection of furniture and systems for Commercial and Residential environments. IMO is committed to creating timeless, versatile products that endure changes in tastes and trends.

We see design as a process that integrates user-centred research, knowledge of materials, rigorous attention to detail, manufacturing technologies and experimentation. We subscribe to the 'Against Throwawayism' philosophy, to help people live better by providing well designed and constructed products that will last a lifetime and can change as their needs change.

To ensure our Customers keep their furniture and systems for life, we continually strive to improve our products. By involving Users in the design process and working closely with Suppliers, we repeatedly refine the quality and specifications, ensuring that functionality, appearance and assembly are improved as much as possible.

We have a range of standard products which includes work systems, storage, seating, upholstery and tables, and also collaborate with architects and designers when custom solutions are required. As well as locally designed product, we also carry the product of Danish Designer Paul Leroy.

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Design Talks

I have arranged for my colleague, International designer Jamie Mcllean to come in and kick off a session 'talking design' next Friday at 10.00am in the 3rd year studio.

Jamie is one of the latest furniture and product designers to base himself in Auckland and he is on the hunt for new talent. His practice is expanding and he currently has the need for an intern – this could be one of you!

Jamie will deliver a short talk about his work, describe the opportunity and you will have the chance to ask him questions before you decide whether to apply. This opportunity may be filled by a second or 3rd year and depends upon an interview with Jamie.

Check out his website here – you will see he has worked for some of the top UK practices.

10.00am Friday 27th March – yr3 studio.

About Jamie:

Jamie McLellan was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, 1978. He grew up mainly in Wellington, with stints in Palmerston North and Bandung, Indonesia.
Since graduating in 1999 with a BDes in Industrial Design from Massey University, Jamie has designed for manufacturers and consultancies in Australasia, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, Asia and America.
Most recently Jamie was employed as Senior Designer to well known Briton, Tom Dixon.
Jamie’s work often finds him in slightly obscure locations such as the back streets of Jaipur, India and Ghanzhou, China. When he is not travelling as a designer, he will be following his passion for windsurfing and sailing to places such as Tariffa, Maui and Lake Garda.
Having recently returned to Auckland, New Zealand, Jamie is in the process of setting up his own product design studio working on projects ranging from furniture and lighting, to sports goods, to small scale civic architecture.

Jamie’s approach to design is one of integrity and understated sophistication.
As a New Zealander, Jamie grew up with design as a process of problem solving through innovation.
His experiences working abroad now allow him to package this pragmatic New Zealand approach to a level that is world class, without falling victim to fashion and trends.
Jamie is as excited by technology and futurism, as he is by sculpture and aesthetics.
He thrives on diversity and as a result has turned his hand to a large range of design briefs and manufacturing techniques – high end furniture and lighting products, injection moulded consumer goods, hand fabricated aluminium vehicles, traditional and mass manufactured wood work, welding, sewn products both hi-tech and low-tech, collaborations with artisans in India, marine design and design for public spaces, to name a few.

Jamie is currently working on a range of projects including a lighting & furniture commission for a Japanese ski hotel, a furniture collection for a large local manufacturer, sports equipment & accessories for Neil Pryde in Hong Kong, a super high end kayak, some furniture for a show in Venice, coffins, potentially some lighting for a gallery in Paris, a project for Lion Nathan, and lots more..

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David Trubridge and the art of design.

I am down in Hawkes Bay at David Trubridge studio – a design and make studio set up based in the old Whakatu meat packing works: a strangely eerie place full of old and discarded machinery, boilers and unused spaces. David has set up what can only be described as a 'magical wonderland' a place where time hurtles past facilitated by enthusiastic conversation and the to-ings and fro-ings of a small army of dedicated designers and assistants who lovingly describe their work here, the atmosphere, the international design projects and the life that they are living in Hawkes Bay. Talking with Amy I find out she studied furniture and product design at the reputable Kingston University in the UK. Before working for David, she was designer for Danske Mobel based in Mt Eden, Auckland but she decided to escape, follow her dreams and live the life she wished for.

David's workshops are within what was originally the woodworking 'shops' that supplied the area with its cabinet making needs. The place is light spacious and full of history. Over lunch (David provides a communal lunch on Fridays so my luck is in) I hear stories about some of the other staff that are away tramping, surfing and exploring. I also listen to descriptions of what it is like inside the rest of the old meat packing works: huge vacant spaces where nobody goes, strange noises emanating from still used packing machines and the fruit cannery that still operates from there.

The day before visiting I has been in Taradale at EIT (Eastern Institute of Technology) I had been I wondering how many of the 'locals' might own a David Trubridge design. Speaking to staff and visitors to EIT many have heard of David and in the evening I find a retired antiques dealer and furniture restorer who is making a living by renting out an old church as tourist accommodation (in fact, the oldest church in the Hawkes Bay region) I am told that he is aware of what Mr Trubridge is doing and thinks its great – David is obviously somewhat of a local celebrity.

David and Linda live in a home they designed and built for themselves in the 90's. The house is in many ways the manifestation of David's design philosophy, one which has held steadfast over the decade and is in tune with current modes of thinking: ironically, David is now fashionably progressive.  The house, which is concrete block construction, is reassuringly strong. Inside, the air is warm and dry. When I mention this to David he tells me "how this was (one of) the first block houses to be built after the planning laws had relaxed allowing for block building to be competitive against timber fame construction". He also tells be that when he designed the house he sought out a builder who was prepared to experiment with mixing cement render with PVA glue: a formula that would allow for using one less layer of render on the interior walls than normal – and the results look great over a decade later.

Back at the workshops, I look around the workshop unaccompanied by David and I start to see evidence of his attention to detail everywhere – in his models, maquettes, failed attempts and successes: David is following a path that is truly creative and like all creative paths full of mistrials and 1000's of hours of hard graft. The staff seems to be infected with David's attention to detail. I over hear discussions about materials; curvature and exact size of rivet heads. I see CAD drawings of new forms and material combinations that look very exciting. I talk to Mat (who studied Object Design at the Unitec School of Design) who is in charge of production and he tells me about what he is doing at David's and how graduates need to (paraphrasing here) "understand how they will gain employment, how they will productionize their artistic works"

Navigating around the workshop I see examples of David's wish to utilize off cuts, scraps and the by-products of unsuccessful experiments: one of the staff is trying to find a way to use up components from a machining mistake – the upshot is looking like the start of a new form for a product. Further discussing David’s design philosophy with him, I learn that he has for many years been considering the impact of his products in terms of materials usage, ecological footprint, functionality and cultural enrichment.

Looking through the design studio I see 8-10 lights in various stages of resolution, images of 9 meter high sculptures and photographs of houses David designed for clients in the Hawkes Bay region – David is truly a renaissance person. David an I talk about his recent trip to Europe, his visit to the Milan Salone and London's 100% Design – He is unhappy about much of what he has seen and he shows me an example of the lowlights of his trip: a postcard of a chair that in in an unhappy marriage with a sheet of laminated plywood turns into a ugly and quite ridiculous table – hum, I wonder what I sit on whilst I am eating at this table?

Design has alot to answer for as do the manufacturers of needless and meritless offering that are regularly offered to consumers as a quickly fix or as David prefers to call it 'junk food' rather than 'nourishment'. Nourishment is a word David uses frequently and he uses it to describe how he feels design should enrich our lives – he believes that much of today’s designed products leave us unsatisfied and hungry for more: that "designers know that they are doing damage with many of their solutions but just down know how to stop".

It has been along time since I visited such an interesting design studio – the last one was probably that of Thomas Hetherwick in London – another true renaissance figure. What I feel whilst I am here at David's studio is an overwhelming sense of connectedness between the designer, the materials and processes, the studio staff, the context within which he is working and the needs and wants of customers. David has can draw upon a diverse and rich background one which has seen him tackle different professions in different countries much of which has already been written about. I must say though that when I see an article pinned on his studio wall in which he is described as 'boat builder turned designer' I can't help wondering what the writer thinks the difference between the two is.

Having spent a day with him I see that he is determined to find ways to address the issues of mass consumption and the erosion of meaning in contemporary objects and spaces. He talks about the need for systems not objects, for awareness not blindness, for a shift away from individuals working in isolation to communities working together. Over the day and night that I have been here I think David has some valuable ideas, a progressive point of view and a refreshingly humble attitude for a designer so well known (outside of his country) and the studio and workshop are an excellent model of community involvement and contemporary production. Certainly one to watch closely.

My thanks to David, Linda and all the staff at David Truebridge Studio.

Furniture by David Trubridge.
03102008704 copy
03102008706 copy
03102008708 copy

03102008688 copy
03102008695 copy
03102008697 copy

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