It has to be admitted straight from the outset that Australia is a very small market and this goes someway to explaining why traditionally the country has failed to have a world quality design fair. Some would argue that it still doesn't by comparison to Stockholm, Milan and London but it's definitely getting there through DENFAIR.
The fourth DENFAIR event was once again held at the Melbourne Exhibition Cente in the city's Docklands. It's not the most inspiring venue (locally known as 'Jeff's Shed' after the politician who championed its construction) but it's very central for visitors. This year saw an increased number of European companies testing the waters by taking a stand at the fair - these included Fermob, Expormim, Dedon and Established & Sons. Rather than this being done under the banner of the local distributor, the stronger recognition factor of international brands was exploited. All in all there was still only two hundred stands but that creates quite an intimate mood and enables the most thorough visitor to see everything properly in a single day.
Traditionally very strong in the furniture market, with brands like Fast, Mattiazzi and Norman Copenhagen, Australian distributor District is branching out into lighting with exciting new brand Giapato & Coombes. The hip Italian brand joins District's other brands with a strong lighting focus like Resident and NEW WORKS.
The Australian lighting brand Rakumba celebrated 50 years in business at DENFAIR 2018. The Melbourne brand launched a wonderful new range by Rotterdam based Australian designers Studio Truly Truly called 'Typography' along with other new designs by Jon Goulder, Anchor Ceramics and Tom Fereday. Their stand was once again a knockout with layers of delicate strings in white and yellow forming the perimeter of the stand while their latest lighting ranges were displayed inside.
Australian lighting has really moved on in recent years and one of those at the forefront of this push for more experimental concepts has been Volker Haug. HIs Brunswick East studio has now grown to nine employees and the work is receiving attention worldwide with press coverage as far afield as India. Earlier this year Volker Haug was one of the 26 Australian designers and studios that exhibited in Milan as part of Emma Elizabeth's LOCAL DESIGN.
Melbourne lighting company ISM Objects has been around since 1990 and continue to develop new and interesting ideas while attempting to keep their designs affordable. Founders Celina Clarke and Simon Christopher are still the brand's key designers and have always championed Australian designed and made. The two items below are shown here as renders but the lights are now in production.
Another Melbourne brand that is continually developing new and exciting concepts is Copper. Founded by Edward Linacre and Viktor Legin in 2013, the studio produces furniture and lighting products and designs custom solutions for interior designers and architects. In the last couple of years their focus has very much been on lighting. Their new 'Flask' lighting collection is a collaboration with glass artist Cain Lambourn of Foundation Glass.
Presenting their wares in a way that was very in tune with the global trend for fluted glass, young Melbourne brand Idle Hands (Kieran Meegan and Rickie-Lee Robbie) showcased their capsule collection of pot plant stands (which double as side or coffee tables) called 'Platform'. The slot together powder coated steel tables come in cream, charcoal, matt or gloss white, horizon blue, matt black and opaline green.
Launching at Denfair in 2016 Melbourne brand LAAL is the creation of brother and sister and Lydia Hnatojko. Previously showing their work in the ID. X THE SNAP young designers showcase section, LAAL have grown into a young brand that is happy to stand alone. Their highly graphic range of light fittings focus on cones and spheres supported by arched bars and perpendicular lines.
The first collection by young designers Andrew Beverage and Gabrielle Beswick for their brand Fomu, are a range of all black simple tables. While based around steel tube legs, flat steel shelves with black stained American oak tops, which is a very standard material mix these days, Beverage and Beswick manage to create a successful capsule collection with small but pleasing details. The cost of these tables is also surprising low, starting at $340. Beverage and Beswick are originally from Tasmania but have based themselves in Melbourne since founding their brand in 2017.
Another new discovery for Design daily at DENFAIR 2018 was Melbourne based lighting company Lumil. Founder Luke Mills hails from New Zealand and is slowly bringing the rest of his family to Australia to work for him. Working with interesting materials like terracotta and recycled PET felt, the studio has created some exciting lighting designs. Shown below are Lumil's blown glass pendant 'Blend' and the linear terracotta lamp aptly named 'Tile'. The later also comes in wall single module mounted versions.
Shown below are the 'Tile' lights from Lumil, made from slumped terracotta tiles. The design can be built to various lengths in increments of 250mm and can be applied horizontally as a hanging light or fixed to vertical surfaces.
Adam Cornish is a designer who Design daily has always had a lot of time for. His work ethic is second to none and his work is always a cut above. This year at DENFAIR Cornish took out a joint award with Jon Goulder for BEST LOCAL PRODUCT. Goulder collaborated with Spence & Lyda on a beautifully crafted collection called Innnate, while Cornish worked with Melbourne outdoor specialist Tait on a folded steel outdoor dining chair called 'Seam' (shown below).
Fiona Spence has been importing amazing furniture and lighting for over 20 years and now represents brands like De La Espada, CT Lighting, DCW Editions, Gras, Missoni and Pinch to name just a few. To create her own range Spence turned to Jon Goulder head of furniture at Adelaide's Jam Factory. Well known as the maker of incredible joinery with a particular interest in water-formed leather, Goulder has designed a collection called Innate that expresses a very Australian aesthetic using native Australian hardwoods rather than imported timber species like walnut and oak. The pieces are finished using techniques that seem to have been forgotten in the move to modern synthetics - pickling and waxing. The result, as you would expect from a collaboration of a super designer maker and retail doyenne, is nothing short of spectacular (in a quiet and understated sort of way). The pieces call out to be touched and are genuinely timeless in their refusal to embrace the current fashion for pastel colours and obvious shapes.
Replaced was the latest in a series of exhibitions by the American Hardwoods Association showcasing their range of farmed hardwoods such as walnut, oak and cherry. This year was the turn of lesser known timber Tulipwood - a species America grows in abundance. The natural blonde to greenish variations in the timber makes it difficult to use on some designs but on Jon Guilder's 'Glissando' cabinet below, it worked beautifully.
Standing out for its bold use of a single material, the Floc Studio stand was a little daunting to enter but once inside visitors could experience a number of European brands that are relatively new to Australia: Kristina Dam, Would and Wewood.
Portuguese brand Wewood is one of Floc Studio's key brands. Based near Porto in the north of Portugal Wewood creates beautifully crafted pieces in solid timber across a wide range of categories. Shown below are their 'Bowie' armchair and 'Touch' cabinet.
Pictured below is the 'Annular' pendant by Canadian designers M-S-D-S Studio from Danish brand Woud - on show as part of Floc Studio's offering at DENFAIR 2018. The inviting chair on the right is the S.A.C. chair by Naoya Matsuo.
Melbourne designer manufacturer Nicholls Design was funded in 2005 by Brad Nicholls and Sarah Woodhouse. The brand produces furniture that reflects the brands rural origins. The pieces are manufactured in solid timber and influenced by everyday functionality.
Featuring work by 22 finalists including Andrew Carvolth, Marie Lefebvre of Atelier Cayelle, Rene Linsson and Jack Balfour, the Front Centre exhibition brought the various Australian state design organisations together to select their best candidates. These institutions include Design Object Tasmanian, Craft ACT, Workshopped with the Australian Design Centre, Jam Factory and Craft Victoria.
Nicholas Fuller is one of the most talented designer makers in Australia today. Recently part of Emma Elizabeth's contingent that showed in Milan, Fuller comes from a background of studying under a master joiner (Scott Mitchell). In recent years Fuller has worked under the guidance of Jon Goulder at the Jam Factory but is soon to set out and establish his own studio. His 'Standing' screens have made him the talk of many a design magazine but he has recently backed this up with a beautifully made 'Standing' floor lamp (shown right) featuring the same granite base but with immaculately machined stainless steel and brass components.
Shown below are new designs by Rhys Cooper (left) and Yellow Diva (David Walley and Felicity Joll) on the right. Cooper's new design reflect the recent interest in arched forms but he adds his own angular element to the classic form. The 'Arch' wall mirror made from oak incorporates a small shelf while the 'U' vase is cast ceramic in a range of glazes. The 'Hang Luxe' side tables from Yellow Diva are part of a range of items with the same name that include a valet and floor standing mirror. The side tables feature stone tops and withe r a stone or cast iron base with painted steel supports colour matched to the stone.
Melbourne brand Zuster has come along way in the 20 odd years since it was founded by sisters Wilhelmina McCarroll and Fleur Sibbel. Their collections today are extremely luxe with beautiful materials and fabrics.
That's it for another year for DENFAIR.......but no wait there is more! DENFAIR will also be in Sydney for the first time this year August 16-18. You can find out more details on their website here.