BRODIE NEILL Made in Ratio

Born in Australia, Brodie Neill's designs have proved a global hit. His eponymous London-based label crafts limited editions and public commissions, while his brand Made in Ratio produces eye-catching furniture and lighting. A furniture design graduate from Tasmania, he has created work for Italian firms Kundalini and Riva 1920, as well as one-off projects for Austrian crystal company Swarovski and British fashion guru Alexander McQueen.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What inspired you to start Made in Ratio?
I set up Made in Ratio in 2013 to create a more accessible furniture collection to sit alongside the limited edition and commission pieces produced by my studio, but one that still maintained my trademark high quality of form, originality and innovation. 

What’s the brand’s design vision?
To bring thoughtful and progressive ideas to life that are in perfect proportion: of form and function, time-honoured and new materials, traditional hand craftsmanship and boundary-pushing digital process. 

ABOVE: Brodie Neill with his sculptural 2015 'Wishbone' seats, three-way organic benches commissioned by Hobart's Brooke Street Pier
ABOVE RIGHT: The stackable 'Alpha' chair with A-shaped back

ABOVE: The head-turning 'Supernova' table and 'Alpha' chair helped put Neill's London-based brand Made in Ratio on the map, combining traditional craftsmanship with digital technology

Your ‘Supernova’ table and ‘Alpha’ chair have helped make your name. Tell us more.
Both ‘Supernova’ and ‘Alpha’ are the result of organic engineering, inspired by nature and refined through technology. The ‘Supernova’ trestle is formed by pouring 100 per cent recycled molten aluminium into a sand casted mould. We combined an ancient manufacturing process with environmental sustainability to produce a modern product with a long lifespan. A toughened glass top rests on the star-shaped trestles, which can be positioned in various multiples and orientations to create a dining table, desk or coffee table.

Our ‘Alpha’ chair is inspired by whale vertebrae that wash up on the shores of Tasmania’s coast. The name is derived from the A-shaped structure of the back legs and backrest, which give the chair its strength. ‘Alpha’ is formed from six components individually CNC-shaped and assembled into the single seamless form using traditional and contemporary woodworking techniques.

What projects do you have coming up?
2016 kicked off with Made in Ratio presenting our collection at January's Maison&Objet design fair in Paris, including reiterations of some of our most recognised pieces. We are planning events at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan and the London Design Festival. In Australia, I was delighted to be shortlisted for the recent Rigg Design Prize exhibition at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria. Made in Ratio also has exciting projects coming up in 2016 through its commercial partner Living Edge design store in Australia. In Hobart, we have designed the ‘Wishbone’ sculptural seating for the Brooke Street Pier, which is now open to the public.

BELOW: Made in Ratio's 2013 'Cowrie Rocker' rocking lounger takes its cue from the concave curves of seashells. The sweeping all-in-one structure is formed from plywood with a veneer of natural ash, ebonised ash, walnut or oak.

photo: brooke holm

photo: brooke holm

Do you still work independently as Brodie Neill on design-art and limited edition commissions? Or does Made in Ratio dominate your time?
The two studios work hand-in-hand and our research and experimentation for projects in one studio informs our work in the other. I established Made in Ratio as a small, self-produced collection to complement my complete creative output. Currently, under the Brodie Neill arm, we are working on private commissions in Asia and the USA, new furniture products for Italian brand Riva 1920, and ‘Portal’, an eight-metre sculpture for Brooke Street Pier on the waterfront of Tasmania's capital Hobart, a landmark meeting point that will be installed mid-2016.

Where do you get inspiration?
The beauty and complexity found in nature continues to be my biggest source of inspiration; over millennia, through evolution, nature has already resolved many of the design challenges we face today. This inspiration manifests itself in the overall form as well as the details in my designs.

ABOVE: Moulded from a single piece of Corian, Made in Ratio's 2014 'Pleat' indoor/outdoor bench effortlessly overlaps at each end to create an elegant silhouette

How do the UK and Australian design scenes differ?
With the help of modern communication, the two countries are now closer than ever before and through recent projects, I’ve been lucky to be part of both. London is nearer to other established design capitals such as Milan, Paris and Stockholm as well as burgeoning design scenes in cities including Berlin, Lodz and Ljubljana, which all influence the vibrancy of the creative scene and diversity of work across Europe. 

In Australia it’s great to see local design getting the chance to shine, thanks to some fantastic recent projects, with more currently underway all over the country. Through Made in Ratio’s partnership with Living Edge we are fortunate to be part of these exciting schemes.

Globally, we’re seeing a shift away from the bigger brands of Europe and North America – these guys still control the market share don’t get me wrong! – but we’re seeing a scope for smaller operations as alternatives and this suits locally designed and produced pieces in Australia and throughout the world. 

What’s currently exciting you in design, architecture or art?
I find it inspiring to see materials being used in original ways and innovation in processes where new life is breathed into forgotten crafts through the aid of digital design. It’s also at the crossroads of previously defined design fields that the real magic happens, where science meets art, nature meets technology and the old meets the new. Preconceived design disciplines are discarded allowing contemporary creatives to roam free across uncharted territory.

ABOVE: The 'Supernova' table in a fresh incarnation, supported by a trio of trestles in spaceage shapes and tempting turquoise

Which design era has influenced you the most?
The pioneering period of the 1950s and 60s has been particularly influential in my designs. It was a very potent time of experimenting with new materials and technologies. The era also saw an emergence of playfulness in designers and their sculptural ideas for the home.

Where’s on your travel wishlist?
I have just returned from the IMM Cologne design show and Paris. Over the next few months, I have some trips planned in Europe to meet the craftspeople we work with and visit factories. I am also keen to build on our success in the Far East and will be travelling to China and Japan towards the middle of the year and then Australia. 

What’s your social media of choice?
Design is inherently a visual industry so Instagram and Twitter lend themselves really well as platforms where we can tell stories through images and also seek inspiration and keep in touch with wider industry trends. Follow us on @madeinratio and @brodieneill.
madeinratio.com   brodieneill.com

ERWAN BOUROULLEC Bouroullec Brothers

French design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec – aka the Bouroullec brothers – is best known for pared-down, cutting-edge furniture for brands including Artek, HAY, Iittala and Vitra. Their new I-shaped 'Serif' television for Samsung was a showstopper at this year’s London Design Festival and we predict this life-enhancing piece of tech is set to rock our world, recreating TVs as stylish furniture. Here, Erwan shares his ideas and interests.

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Tell us about your new 'Serif TV'. What inspired the design?
The motive was to make an object that sits properly in the world we live in today. We wanted to move away from a flat black screen, while designing something in which the case was as important as the screen inside. Unlike most TVs where the frame is meant to disappear, the serif-shaped surround frames the screen like a picture.

What are your favourite features?
The struggle was to make sure that the TV was good-looking from any angle and can be moved around like any other piece of furniture in the home. The television features a fabric panel on the back to hide all the ports and wires, so it can be moved away from the wall. 

ABOVE: Erwan Bouroullec (left) with brother Ronan
BELOW: The duo's first foray into electronics has resulted in the 'Serif TV', the world's first typographic television; Looks like puss knows a good thing when she sees it...

Sum up your style in three words.
Accessible, poetic, elegant. There is a rational approach to the way that Ronan and I work, so I would say our style is more connected with method. The shape follows from the way in which the product is built. 

What’s influencing your work right now?
More and more, we are striving for a radical approach, reworking things that affect everyday life. The 'Serif' is a good example of this. It is something that people are surprised by and want to discuss, yet they like it and want it too. 

ABOVE: Sketches, fabric samples and maquettes for the 'Serif TV'; A spot of serenity amid the organised chaos of the Bouroullecs' studio

Describe your workspace.
Incredibly messy, which even to me is surprising. I imagined that as I got older I would become more organised but, in fact, I quite like the studio to keep a degree of unprofessionalism. It keeps us off a predetermined track and preserves our creativity. 

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Who are your design heroes?
I don’t have a passionate view on design heroes as such. Of course, in the Fifties, the Americans were fundamental and also the Nordic countries with Jacobsen, Aalto and Wegner. On the dark side, a little later, the Italians were like what Punk was to the music scene. Mario Bellini was a really important figure but most recently I really respect Jasper Morrison (right). His designs from the Eighties have shaped what is happening in design right now. 

Where do you find inspiration?
In making things. I spend most of my time in the studio working on a project. 

Are you always thinking about design?
Always, except when I read each night to reset my mind for a while. I have a couple of science fiction books on the go, Code Source by William Gibson and Grande Jonction by Maurice G. Dantec.

Your biggest must-have in a home is…
A kitchen. It is the most social place of the home. For me, cooking is a time when you connect with the elements – fire, water, flesh, earth and scent. It has the same kind of energy as sculpting, where things are happening and you can’t think twice. 

ABOVE FROM LEFT: The 'Palissade' range of outdoor furniture for Danish brand HAY was a big hit at Maison & Objet in September; The 'Kaari' wall shelf from the Bouroullecs' first collection for Artek, which launched at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in February

Is there anything you wish you had designed? 
Since we designed the TV, I feel our design philosophy is suited to a more technical subject. I would be very happy to design a car. 

If you weren't a designer, what might you have been?
When I was a student I used to look after young kids at summer camp. We were always doing stuff like building kites. It was really amazing.

What’s your social media of choice? 
I don’t post anything myself but I like to go on Instagram, as does Ronan. People often upload shots of our products and it is always pleasing to see their comments on how they are enjoying them at home. If the cat loves it, then so do we.
bouroullec.com  samsung.com

'Serif TV x Samsung' is available in 24", 32" and 40" sizes from 2 November 2015.  

JO SAMPSON

jo.jpg

In the late Seventies and early Eighties, no hipster would be seen without a leather studded wristband or belt. Brit designer Jo Sampson has hijacked street fashion's most recognisable item and infused it with high-end glamour to produce 'Rebel', a gorgeous collection of homewares and accessories for Irish crystal house Waterford

BY DEE IVA

DF NapkinRingSet_grey.jpg

Tell us about your latest collection for Waterford...
The 'Rebel' collection was created with a more design-savvy customer in mind; someone interested in unique and stylish gifts. The mixed-media range is about an attitude and outlook and is meant to be aesthetically beautiful while being unexpected and fun.

It’s quite a varied mix of items, from barware to jewellery, chopsticks and travel kit – what brings its aesthetic together?
The range is brought together by the iconic punk stud; it’s a design detail which transcends time and generations. To apply such a hard angular feature to both metals and crystal (from smoke-grey to amber, purple and blush) was challenging, but it is the thread which holds everything together.

How would you describe your style as a designer?
I’m quite eclectic and design for the specific challenge rather than having a 'house style'. My ranges always have a narrative running through them, and I always design with an end user in mind. It just so happens that I would also buy everything that I create!

ABOVE RIGHT: Shot glass, £65 per pair; 'Gracie' studded cuff, £110
BELOW: Studded crystal and gold vases, glasses and bowls from the 'Rebel' collection. From left: Diamond Box, £55; Shot glass £65, per pair; Bud vase, £80; 8" vase, £110; Dog bowl, £110

TOP ROW FROM LEFT: Napkin rings, £60 for four; Bottle opener, £30; Flask, £60; USB stick, £60
BOTTOM ROW FROM LEFT: Salt and pepper set, £45; Compact mirror, £50; 'Gracie' studded cuff, £110; Tape measure, £35

Who or what is currently exciting you in design?
I love the Japanese design firm Nendo – they are all about surprise and delight and have a unique view of the world. I also look at stylists' work to see how they reinterpret a product and setting. I like the unexpected and things that make you look at life differently; antiques shops and markets are great because there is no core theme and I find that inspirational.

ABOVE: The Nendo 'Chocolatexture' lounge at January's Maison & Objet design show in Paris featured chocolate-coloured furniture set among rippling ombré tubes

What’s next for you?
I am about to conceive new products for all of my current ranges for Waterford. I love going back to a story and adding more products. Something always comes up in the development stage of a project that just doesn’t make the initial deadline and has to wait for the second phase. I am also looking at wine glasses for the 'Elysian' range and I can’t wait to develop them.

Who are your design heroes?
They vary over time. When I was starting out, I worked for Sir Terence Conran and Michele De Lucchi. Both were a huge influence on me and I saw their very different approaches to design and commerciality. I love people who are brave in the way Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood (left) and Alexander McQueen have been in the world of fashion. My work often means a lot of background research and historical referencing and one person whose story fascinated me was Josiah Wedgwood.

Is there anything you wish you had designed?
The Tetra Pak! For something so innocuous it has changed modern day life – it’s an everyday hero.

Where’s on your travel wish-list and why?
There are so many places and so little time! I need some escapism right now to recharge, so I would like to go somewhere very peaceful and warm with no internet.

If you weren’t a designer what might you have been?
I would have inevitably ended up in some sort of creative career. I loved photography and was always interested in it and graphic design, theatre and garden design. I can’t imagine not doing something where I use my imagination; I am a problem solver and love challenges so I don’t think I could be anything else!

What’s your social media of choice?
I love Instagram as it’s so visual – I need to do it more.
josampson.com  

The 'Rebel' collection for Waterford will be available from late April 2015
Visit 
waterford.com for local stockists


Nendo picture: Joakim Blockstrom  joakimblockstrom.com
Vivienne Westwood portrait: Juergen Teller  juergenteller.com