Seven innovative Australian design practices were invited to participate in the project where they were asked to submit one of their own individual designs but more importantly to collaborate with another practice of their choosing. This has created some interesting cross-disciplinary collaborations that have resulted in the exploration of completely new materials and forms for some of the designers.
For Coco Reynolds whose turned timber 'Bead' lights have taken Australia by storm, casting bronze was initially a very foreign process. Taking a moulded material like bronze and juxtaposing it with a hexagonal form in marble Reynolds and Yong-soo Son create an interesting level of tension between the materials. For Yong-soo Son of Studiokyss, who predominantly designs jewellery and small objects, 'Prism' represented a massive change in scale but a familiarity with materials.
Sydney based designer, Dennis Abalos is well known for his work in wire but with the TANDEM Project his interest became more about the outer surface than the wire structure beneath. Exploring various lightweight fabrics on which to print the beautifully soft designs of Haryono Setiadi's Spring / Summer 2015 season, the duo came across a heavy nylon lycra fabric that kept its shape while providing enough opacity to prevent the bulb from being too prominent. The resulting lamps feature softly graduating colours across a taught seed pod -like form. Inspired by the shape of the Balloon vine and Star Anise pods, the lights combine organic colouration with a regular geometric shape. According to Abalos, the weight of the fabric was key with 190 gsm being the final choice. The mechnism to finish the covering was also a tricky element, with a simple draw string proving the best outcome. Abalos's neat solution used a yo-yo shaped base cap that allowed the excess string to be wound around the cap and concealed.
Henry Pilcher's 'Block 2' light is proof that some designs can constantly be tweaked to give a considerably different feel. In this case, the collaboration was between Pilcher and Lance, a designer who splits his time between working for Anibou, the long-standing Artek importer and his design practice. Anibou has been selling Pilcher's 'Block 2' since it's initial release in 2010 and has watched it develop an almost cult-like following. The combination of the simple vintage industrial shade and the complexity of the timber cage makes it both beautiful and highly versatile as it is stackable and can be placed in a variety of ways to direct the light in different ways.
Henry Pilcher's individual project was a chair made from powder-coated tubular steel and marble. While the 'Block 2' light was given a subtle Dieter Rams colour makeover, the chair offered a contemporary take on Bauhaus principles. Pilcher is interested in paring back an object as much as possible to be left with a minimalist form. In the 'Alonso' chair he wanted to create a design that was unique while observing past methods and materials.
For more on the concept behind the TANDEM Project go to the website. The exhibition is on view at the The Rocks Pop-Up: Shop 2.05, 140 George Street The Rocks, Sydney, from October 30 to November 23rd, 2014.
All photography by Cedric Tourasse.