Australian Industrial Designer and King Living collaborator Charles Wilson, together with Australian design visionary Ryan Russell of Russell & George and King Living Designer Brad Saywell, were recently interviewed at Denfair Design Loop’s event during Melbourne Design Week.
The panel unpacked the Australian design aesthetic, as well as providing insight into the design process and the rationale behind some of King Living’s products. Denfair Design Loop’s event saw 15 design showrooms and studios showcasing curated installations exploring the theme ‘Celebration of Material.’
Hosted by Senior Interior Designer from King Living, Jemma Jackson, see an excerpt from the interview below:
What does design mean to you?
Wilson: In three words...abstract, which is a large part of our design philosophy, futurist and craft, to engage with artisans regardless of their environments, and actually using those elements in the work we do.
Saywell: Confident, and strong in design, relaxed – really tapping into the Australian lifestyle, relaxed and contemporary. Australians know how to relax in their homes but also work really hard. Also honest – to age gracefully and be timeless, which resonates strongly with King
How do you see design improving our quality of life, and how we live, work, consume and connect?
Russell: Solving a problem is at the core of design. We produce strategies for how people work, how businesses interrelate…but also trying to push the boundaries of what those future environments may look like. Being able to craft those atmospheres is really exciting, but we also come back to fundamentals – it’s about people and how we interact. Design plays a role in our future.
As society enters an unprecedented period of globalization, do you believe that Australian designers have a unique aesthetic or attitude?
Saywell: We’re in a microcosm…Australia is a place where we bring together many ways of thinking and cultures into one country – we don’t simply have one direction, but many directions, which I think is a strength in Australian design. There are definitely trends; like the colour palette with natural tones, eucalypts and soft colours…which are in nature…to say we have one aesthetic really undersells the Australian design aesthetic.
For you, what is the most challenging part of the design process?
Russell: The build is definitely the most challenging – before it’s on site, it’s anywhere between 3 and 10 people in it…it’s a line drawing…and then it develops a whole life of its own. You need to be able to manage different things, speaking different languages to get the best out of the people involved in the process which is challenging.
Saywell: I think that point about wearing different hats is accurate…for me…you’re the conductor in an orchestra, trying to create a symphony of instruments…at the start is customer, family, friends – what do they want? Both practically and emotionally…then you move through the process – the manufacturing, the sewing department, the frame, it’s a continuous conversation – you’re facilitating the evolution of the product which is a challenge in itself.
And the most rewarding?
Wilson: I’d say the release of course, but really, when it comes into its own down the track after a few years.
Design is key to King Living ethos, what do you look for in good design?
Wilson: Innovation, working with genuine beauty – King Living prides itself on furniture that does something. At the same time you have to make it elegant and seamless and working beautifully with sophisticated touches.
Saywell: It’s like you’re forming a relationship, having a conversation…King Living is coming into your home – what I really like that we do at King is King Care…the product can be updated or recovered, whether its due to wear or if you want to refresh your aesthetic…the object can evolve with you, which is definitely a facet of good design.
And finally, who are your design heroes?
Russell: More recently I’d say Stephen Hawking…with what he created, his structures, composition…it was all extremely inspiring.
Saywell: As a furniture designer, I’d say Hans J Wegner, a Danish designer. He designed over 200 chairs, and each chair had a different personality – he had the ability to imbue the object with different personalities. It wasn’t just a chair…he showed that it was important to look further into the object…and have it bring a presence to the room, which is so important.
King Living now looks forward to exhibiting at both DENFAIR Melbourne and DENFAIR Sydney later this year.