Dinosaur Designs looks back on 30 years of style
The legendary design house continues to evolve, writes Jennifer Veerhuis
It was a bold move to take a product best known in the surfboard and boating industries and mould it into jewellery and homewares.
But that’s what Dinosaur Designs did with resin in its early days and it’s been a mainstay for the company ever since.
Stephen Ormandy and Louise Olsen, the creative force behind Dinosaur Designs, first met at art school more than 30 years ago. Their new book The Art Of Dinosaur Designs details how they discovered a shared love of art and design and, with another student, Liane Rossler, started selling handmade colourful jewellery and textiles at Sydney’s Paddington Markets.
Dinosaur Designs opened its first store in 1989 in The Strand Arcade and today the business has grown to eight retail stores across three continents.
Risks with resin
Louise and Stephen continue to lead the company’s design and they work with a range of versatile materials, including silver, copper and glass, but it’s resin which continues to dominate.
In their book, they describe resin as having a “wonderful viscous fluidity that allows us to cross the boundaries of sculpture and painting”.
They have used it to create much of their homewares and jewellery, such as vases, salad servers, bowls and jugs.
While some products are made by artisans overseas, all their resin products are made by hand in Australia.
“Even after working with the material for as long as we have, we still find new opportunities and find new ways to play with it,” says Stephen.
“We’ve been one of the pioneers of resin and its use in design worldwide.
“We’ve been working with it and exploring it for 30 years now.”
Vive the evolution
While Dinosaur Designs is continuing to grow, with a second store in New York opening and products soon to be available through online luxury fashion retailer Net-A-Porter, Louise says they have continued to evolve as well.
“We’ve got to know resin really well now,” says Louise. “We are able to do so much more to it and p push it that bit further than we ever have before.
“Now we’re designing pieces of furniture and larger-scale pieces and sculptures.” Holding the public’s interest over a long period of time is a rare skill and Louise believes the key is having a new story to tell with each collection.
Nature is a big source of inspiration and their newest collection is titled Foliage, with everything to do with trees evident in their pieces.
“I treat each collection like a new visual story that incorporates people’s own participation, as they wear it or use it in their home,” Louise says.
“We almost see our pieces as homeware jewellery because you’re decorating the home. We have such as vast collection, I think there’s always something about Dinosaur Designs that people enjoy.”
Against the machine
Stephen says they appreciate the fans who love their work. “I think they feel the sense of adventure with what we’re doing,” he says. “That very soft, organic feel talks to pp people. It doesn’t look like somethingg out of an industrialmachinemadeindustrial machine made with
More The Art Of Dinosaur Designs, Lantern, $79.99
Stephen and Louise’s Bronte home is an exploration of their ideas as well as a showcase for their art collection.
While they are best known for working in resin, Stephen and Louise love creating organic forms like these in gold, silver, brass and copper.
Beautiful resin salad servers have proven popular with homeowners and have been a constant in collections over the years.