It was evident even as a industrial design student at Sydney's UTS, that Tom Fereday would go far. While still studying he was working as a design assistant at well known studio Schamburg & Alvisse, Fereday showed he had drive and talent. What is unusual about him is his ability to slip effortlessly between technically detailed industrial design and furniture design. This might seem an odd statement but it is generally true that few furniture designers also design intricate electronic products - Fereday has designed a whole range of sound and video products for Australian company Røde microphones. He has also developed a lounge chair with Herman Miller Asia (that unfortunately didn't go into production despite being a beautifully resolved concept) and timber joinery products for Australian brands DesignByThem and CDR (Craft Design Realisation).
While Fereday officially founded his studio in 2010, he has been working on his own products since 2007 and has managed to gather a large number of awards in the process (Soya, Red Dot and Good Design Awards amongst them). His latest furniture collection 'Wes', an upholstered seating range, is manufactured by SD Element and distributed by Australian commercial furniture company Zenith. It takes soft rounded forms and applies a sophisticated colour palette and obsessive detailing. Inspired by the films of Wes Anderson, the collection, like Anderson's films, takes colour combinations very seriously. There is something slightly peculiar but simultaneously soft and inviting about the collection. Like a macaron, the upholstery rises up from a flat surface, allowing multiples to come together with precision. A graphic quality is achieved without the furniture becoming hard or overtly linear.
I am rarely excited by commercial furniture with its obsession for 'break-out areas' and grand foyer seating but 'Wes' manages to feel quite comfortable and domestic, while satisfying a wide range of commercial uses. The collection was photographed by Haydn Cattach, who has cleverly brought together a few sheets of peg-board and an eye for composition, to create some memorable images with an abstract feel.
In August 2015, to coincide with Sydney Indesign, Fereday launched his all timber 'Bow' chair, designed for Sydney based furniture and accessories brand, DesignByThem. The three leg chair was named 'Bow' due to the curved shape of the back rest. Despite being entirely made from timber the chair is very comfortable and works as either a broad dining chair or a compact occasional chair. Due to its sculptural form, the chair looks terrific against a plain wall at the end of a hallway or as a feature chair in a bedroom.
Manufactured with extensive use of CNC machining the 'Bow' chair is made from solid timber but uses the minimum amount to provide the support and strength that is required. Because of the wide stance of the chair's front legs the design remains very stable - quashing the fear of chair designs with three legs.
The sustainable use of materials is one of Fereday's constant obsessions. The 'Bow' chair like many other of his designs benefits from the careful consideration of the value of raw materials and how waste can be minimized during production.
Honest expression of structure and material is a key feature in Fereday's work. In his range for Rode microphones the same interest in interconnecting forms is evident just in another more industrial material. The look is always clean, refined and highly sculptural.
SInce 2009 Fereday has worked closely with CDR (Craft Design Realisation), producing a range of timber furniture pieces ranging from tables, chairs and sideboards. While much of this quality joinery is fairly conventional in form his 'Spline' light and 'Dye' table from 2011 break new ground - the later with an edge treatment that takes a standard table form and adds just enough of an idea to make it surprising and different without altering any of the practicality.
Fereday wasgraphic design student prior to switching to industrial design and it shows in his love of a graphic line and ability to play with folded and facetted forms that are derived from 2-D materials.
Fereday has also worked with Australian commercial interiors brand Zenith since his days with Schamburg & Alvisse. The brand distributes two of his collections, the 'Wes' and 'Flint' plus a range called '3000' where he was involved in the design development for the designers, Schamburg & Alvisse.
For the Tandem Project, an initiative of curator Laura Lay and designer Christel Hadiwibawa (Christel H), Fereday teamed up with textile designer Danielah Martinez on a fabric design for the 'Flint' range of upholstered pieces.
2015 was a pretty intense year for Fereday but 2016 looks equally busy with work in the pipeline for Victorian brand Dessein. Called 'Pieman' the new collection due for release sometime in June, will involve pieces by Fereday and three other designers that are yet to be announced.
Fereday is now also an instrumental part of Emma Elisabeth's new design platform, LOCAL DESIGN and has moved his studio to this temporary space in the heritage area within the Central Park brewery redevelopment. LOCAL DESIGN launched on September 30 last year with its first exhibition LD1, showcasing a host of established and lesser known local designers. In an exciting development, the organisation will be exhibiting a curated selection of Australian design at Milan Design Week in April.
For more on the work of Tom Fereday you can visit his website here, or follow him on instagram @tom_fereday
LOCAL DESIGN will be holding an exhibition dedicated to Fereday's new 'Wes' collection on the 18th of February from 6-9pm. at the CREATIVE CONCEPT SPACE, 46-48 Kensington St, Chippendale, Sydney.