The Canberra-based designer and artist applies a conceptual approach to the production of his experimental furniture and objects.
Canberra-based designer and artist Elliot Bastianon applies a conceptual approach to the production of his experimental furniture and objects.
By the time furniture designer Elliot Bastianon graduated from the Australian National University (ANU) in 2012, it was already apparent he was a name to watch. His rigorous conceptual framing had a level of sophistication rare in the work of a new graduate and his willingness to push boundaries, experiment and take risks simply made him appear all the more curious and exciting. Fast forward to today and he’s proving those early keen observers right.
The unpretentious intellectualism remains, as does a hard-edge geometry and strong use of repetition, all of which characterize his growing portfolio. “Artists whose works I really admire often incorporate module and repetition; something that starts simple but becomes more complex as it multiplies,” says Gold Coast-born, Canberra-based Bastianon, who established his studio in 2014. “And while repetition can at first seem monotonous, I think it can build up to a point that becomes quite mesmerizing.” Case in point is his Mochi chair, a crisp design that appeals with its uniformly gridded timber frame. The rationalized composition may be ultra-modern, but it also has an element of playfulness in the way the seating sensually fills the top half of the grid’s compartments.
Mochi is a particularly interesting piece in Bastianon’s trajectory because it highlights him at his commercial best, while contrasting dramatically with the direction his newer work is taking. As a designer he’s undeniably concerned with function. But as an artist, he’s less interested in producing pieces that provide clear-cut practical uses and this is exemplified by his new Goo chair. Where Mochi boasts comfortable seating, Goo’s seat is non-existent. Where Mochi’s neat proportions respect spatial considerations, the Goo chair addresses movement,
flow and things that can’t be contained, with legs that ooze beyond its frame.
Bastianon’s work oscillates between functional design and sculptural object and in this respect his practice is not restricted. As he explains, “While I’ll continue to design and make furniture for residential and commercial applications, it’s liberating to be creative in a way that doesn’t have to adhere to the broader guidelines of design, whether that’s price point, colour scheme, material choice or shipping costs. Sculpture provides me with complete freedom.”
His current body of work centres on mineral growth, commodity extraction and the significance of symbols in relation to mining infrastructure. He first becoming interested in the process of growing crystals on furniture in 2017 and has been developing the concept as part of his PHD in Visual Arts, which he’s undertaking at ANU. The pieces are formed of concrete, steel and copper sulphate. He exhibited Chair (Growth Sites series) at the Milan Furniture Fair in 2018 and this piece, along with Cylinder Bench, are currently on show in the NGV Triennial in Melbourne.
Both Chair and Cylinder Bench are hard, industrial, non-functional objects of striking beauty. And the judicious inclusion of copper sulphate, which randomly crystallizes during an involved making process, visually extends Bastianon’s motifs of repetition and geometry. While these works explore themes of time, planetary change and the natural environment, they also reveal his overall commitment to prioritizing strong materiality.
Bastianon approaches materials without bias and looks to them for suggestions for their use, focusing on how best to express his ideas in ways that are innovative. He’s open to a wide range of material options too and appreciates opportunities to experiment with new and non-traditional ones. Processes are also an important consideration, whether industrial or handmade, and he’s constantly looking at ways to refine the manufacture of his designs.
Continuing to incorporate mineral growth in different ways, Bastianon is currently developing a variety of freestanding and wall-mounted sculptures. He’ll be presenting an exhibition for Melbourne Design Week 2021 and is involved in Furnished Forever, a commercial furniture brand he co-founded with fellow Canberra designer René Lissen. His work continues to thrill and intrigue and his finely tuned understanding of composition, materials and form is what ultimately defines his ever-compelling practice. A
“Both Chair and Cylinder Bench are hard, industrial, non-functional objects of striking beauty. And the judicious inclusion of copper sulphate, which randomly crystallizes during an involved making process, visually extends Bastianon’s motifs of repetition and geometry.”