Sus­tain­abil­ity key fo­cus for as­pir­ing young Aus­tralian de­sign­ers

Australasian Timber - - NEWS - Im­ages by @mis­teraoy

Long af­ter the af­ter­noon bell goes for HSC stu­dents at Fresh­wa­ter Se­nior Cam­pus in Syd­ney’s North­ern Beaches, you can hear the high-pitched sounds of jig­saws and or­bital san­ders hum­ming away in the work­shop.

At first glance, it looks the same as any other stu­dent work­shop would - abuzz with ma­chin­ery and busy hands, curled wood shav­ings on the floor, and the dis­tinct smell of freshly carved wood lin­ger­ing in the air. But as the var­i­ous pieces take shape – a surf­board that show­cases hand cut mar­quetry, a pod chair that was in­spired by biomimicry, and a chair that is con­structed of en­tirely curved com­po­nents -- it be­comes quickly ap­par­ent that th­ese as­pir­ing young de­sign­ers are push­ing the bounds of de­sign.

The stu­dents work un­der the tu­ition of Ben Percy, a Syd­ney based fur­ni­ture de­signer/maker known for his soft, curved lines in­spired by na­ture. His ex­pert crafts­man­ship has gained na­tional recog­ni­tion for his sig­na­ture Man­tis Ta­ble in Tas­ma­nian Black­wood and Pod Chair in Cel­ery Top Pine among others.

Core to Percy’s de­sign ethos is sus­tain­abil­ity. Percy re­li­giously sources sus­tain­able tim­bers, but also con­sid­ers the ad­di­tional hard­ware, fin­ishes and man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, which have the great­est im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

So, for this year’s HSC projects, Percy teamed up with Brit­ton Tim­bers who do­nated 5 cu­bic me­tres of Tas­ma­nian Black­wood in sup­port of Fresh­wa­ter Se­nior Cam­pus stu­dent de­sign­ers.

In a re­cent ex­hi­bi­tion that cel­e­brated the stu­dents’ achieve­ments over the year, it is clear that this next wave of tal­ent are putting en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact at the fore­front of their de­sign phi­los­o­phy.

“Sup­port­ing the Aus­tralian In­dus­try and its sus­tain­abil­ity is a fun­da­men­tal fo­cus of what I teach my stu­dents here. I am find­ing that each year my stu­dents are be­com­ing much more pas­sion­ate about sus­tain­able de­sign and sus­tain­able liv­ing.

“As a fur­ni­ture de­signer my­self, I am able to give my stu­dents a real un­der­stand­ing of just how much re­spon­si­bil­ity de­sign­ers have in creat­ing sus­tain­able de­signs and the con­trol they can have over what con­sumers are of­fered,” Percy said.

For the 10 stu­dents com­plet­ing their HSC in De­sign and Tech­nol­ogy, their brief was to cre­ate a prod­uct that ad­dresses a gen­uine need in so­ci­ety and one that also min­imises the im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

In In­dus­trial Tech­nol­ogy Timber, 13 stu­dents had to pur­sue the de­vel­op­ment of a piece of fur­ni­ture which show­cases a wide range of tech­ni­cal skill and at­ten­tion to de­tail.

“It was very im­por­tant for me to use sus­tain­able timber as it en­sures that the fu­ture of fur­ni­ture mak­ing con­tin­ues… if peo­ple don’t con­sider this now, then there wouldn’t be as many av­enues and choice of prod­ucts in the fu­ture so it was pretty im­por­tant and pretty great to have this op­por­tu­nity sup­ported by Brit­ton Tim­bers,” said stu­dent Tiani Schae­fer.

When the packs of rough sawn timber ar­rived on the load­ing docks, stu­dents were able to choose the piece of timber that best suited their project.

This ex­pe­ri­ence of sort­ing through rough sawn timber is some­thing that ev­ery de­signer who works with timber should ex­pe­ri­ence, ac­cord­ing to Percy.

For Percy, who has been teach­ing since 2011, the ex­pe­ri­ence is ex­tremely re­ward­ing.

“I think most of all, they were ab­so­lutely thrilled be­ing able to cre­ate their pieces from such a beau­ti­ful timber. The fin­ished pieces re­ally show­case the beauty that Black­wood has to of­fer,” he said.

The projects have all been ex­ter­nally marked by the NESA (NSW Ed­u­ca­tion Stan­dards Au­thor­ity) and are free to go home with their mak­ers. For now, the work­shop at Fresh­wa­ter Se­nior Cam­pus is quiet but there is no doubt that this next gen­er­a­tion of mak­ers will con­tinue to lead the way in sus­tain­able de­sign.

Work by Ethan Neville.

■ Work by Tiani Schae­fer.

■ Work by Jor­dan Pep­per.

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