DO­MINIC LON­ER­A­GAN

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Aia Awards 2014 -

Wilson’s first ex­pe­ri­ence of the Mi­lan Fur­ni­ture Fair ce­mented this path. He went while he was trav­el­ling the world as a back­packer be­fore the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis. “It was in­tensely op­u­lent. Peo­ple were just throw­ing money at ev­ery sin­gle new project. It felt hard to jus­tify mak­ing any­thing, ever, as I thought we were so fur­nished in ev­ery way,” he re­calls. “I felt a bit dis­heart­ened by that and then I found the De­sign Academy Eind­hoven [in The Nether­lands], which was look­ing at de­sign in a very Dutch way — it was very con­cep­tual, where the think­ing and the anal­y­sis come first and the prod­uct comes sec­ond. It was very dif­fer­ent from dream­ing up an idea and fig­ur­ing out how to make it work. It’s re­ally highly in­tel­lec­tu­alised.”

He was the first Aus­tralian to at­tend the school and spent three years pur­su­ing a “de­sign ed­u­ca­tion rather than a mak­ing ed­u­ca­tion”. Upon grad­u­a­tion, he came back to Syd­ney and set up a stu­dio in 2010; one of the first things he de­signed — the A-joint — won an award. “The prize en­abled me to put it in pro­duc­tion,” Wilson says. His in­spi­ra­tion for the A-joint was a plas­tic saw-horse bracket he found in the US equiv­a­lent of Bun­nings.

“I saw this idea there, this wedg­ing, and I thought it was such a good idea that had been so poorly ex­e­cuted and so roughly cheap­ened by mak­ing it out of plas­tic. It was a pretty poor res­o­lu­tion for what orig­i­nally was a very good idea,” he says. “I looked into the prod­uct and it had a patent on it — for the wedg­ing mech­a­nism — and the patent had ex­pired, so I thought it was worth hav­ing a look at this and see­ing what could be done. I took it to an en­gi­neer and started the process of com­pletely chang­ing it into some­thing that would last a lifetime.”

Wilson rein­vented the saw-horse as a part used to man­u­fac­ture ta­bles, benches, stools and desks in a “very quick, glue-less and ad­justable” way. “It started as a pu­rity of de­sign for me and it’s turned into some­thing that has filled quite a gap in the mar­ket.” The main clients for Wilson’s A-joint are Aus­tralian busi­nesses that used to wait up to 26 weeks for a high-qual­ity cus­tomised ta­ble to be shipped from Europe. “There used to be th­ese big bound­aries in place, whereas the lead time for the A-joint is two weeks, with an in­fi­nite amount of ma­te­ri­als and ad­just­ments,” he says. “So I found my­self a bit of an en­tre­pre­neur.”

Wilson now makes more fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions than de­sign ones but hopes to hire some­one soon to as­sist with that side of his business so he can con­cen­trate on cre­at­ing new work. In the mean­time, he gets great plea­sure from know­ing his fur­ni­ture ex­ists in many of­fices, homes and restau­rants. “A lot of peo­ple would have sat at an A-joint desk and they wouldn’t even know it,” he says. “That’s kind of what I like. It does its job but you could eas­ily miss it in a room. It’s not a state­ment; it’s just qui­etly work­ing away there.”

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