SHIZUKA SASAKI – teamLab

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Japanese collective teamLab's immersive installations and artworks blend technology and creativity bringing together ‘ultratechnologists’ from diverse digital fields. The Fizz chatted to director Shizuka Sasaki at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, host to exhibition ‘Learn & Play! teamLab Future Park’.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s your design philosophy?
Throughout our artworks and spatial design we try to make other people’s existence a positive thing. With conventional art, like the Mona Lisa, you want to look at it by yourself and not be distracted by others, but in our artworks there’s always interaction. If someone’s touching it, or sharing the space, it changes around that person and makes the artwork beautiful. So those viewing it appreciate other people’s existence. We create a positive relationship between yourself and others.

How does the collective work?
It was started by our founder Toshiyuki Inoko with five people in 2001, but has grown to over 500. Most of us are permanent, but some work on a contract basis. I’m a catalyst for teamLab. A catalyst creates a team of people to make each project happen, drawn from different technologies. Sometimes we need mathematicians, sometimes special sensor engineers, or artists, designers or architects. So we gather specific teams and liaise through meetings.

TOP: teamLab director and catalyst Shizuka Sasaki. ABOVE: Interactive digital installations at Sydney exhibition 'Learn & Play! teamLab Future Park' at Ultimo's Powerhouse Museum, including 'Light Ball Orchestra', 'Hopscotch for Geniuses' and 'Graffiti Nature – Mountains and Valleys'

What inspired your touring show ‘Learn & Play! teamLab Future Park’?
We began as an IT company. When one of the co-founder's sons was little, he noticed kids were just playing by themselves on phones and tablets, not playing together. He was shocked, so took away the child’s phone. But then he thought, ‘I’m in the IT industry, why am I taking technology away from my son? Technology should be able to bring people in, and let them play together or be more creative with each other.’ So that’s how we started developing the idea of bringing kids together to interact and play through technology in this Future Park. Even though we use technology it’s not just for one person, it’s for a lot of people. Everything is interactive, so if you’re playing by yourself – as with our coloured 'Light Ball Orchestra' exhibit – it’s fun, but if there were more people it would be a lot more fun. There would be more sounds, interactions and colour, so it gets better.

In Future Park's 'Sketch Town' zone kids can scan their coloured-in drawings into a digital artwork and then move them around by touch. How does it work?
There are around 12 different things you can draw and put into 'Sketch Town'’s world. You can touch the pictures and move them around, and they will jump and dance. There’s a limitation to the artwork’s screen size, so once around 300 to 350 drawings appear on it, then your spaceship, say, or truck will start fading away, but they will last for a few hours.

ABOVE: Powerhouse Museum exhibition 'Learn & Play! teamLab Future Park' in Sydney, including interactive digital installations 'Sketch Town', 'Sketch People' and 'A Table where Little People Live'

How important is interactivity to your work?
Everything is interactive. We don’t want to create artworks that you just watch. We want people to be involved and actually to affect the artwork itself.

Why did you choose art as your medium?
It could have been any medium because our aim is to change people’s perspective. We wanted to create something that isn’t just a Japanese thing, but a universal concept. That’s why art is good to work with.

Where do you get inspiration?
We get inspiration from everything – art and architecture – but often from nature. We always blur the boundaries between science and art, and realistic things and virtual things. When you look at flowers, distant mountains or waves you think, ‘why are they so beautiful?’ We break down why they’re beautiful and create something from that concept.

ABOVE: Recent 'NGV Triennial' installation 'Moving Creates Vortices and Vortices Create Movement' for Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria. Visitors' movement is tracked by sensors that communicate via computer with projectors, creating a visual vortex expressed as a continuum of digital particles

Tell us about your recent digital installation for Melbourne’s ‘NGV Triennial’ exhibition?
The 'NGV Triennial' piece was a vortex on the floor, which responds to people’s movement like water. The faster the person moves, the stronger the force is applied in that direction. If a person is not moving, no flow will occur.

Australian gallery Martin Browne Contemporary also shows your digital artworks. Tell us more…
Our artworks keep changing, synchronising with nature, weather or real places. We can’t give away exactly how we connect them to the outside world, but there's something like a GPS always talking to the system, and we create an algorithm. Perhaps the weather outside will affect the weather inside the artwork, or alters the behaviour of its inhabitants. Artworks change with the seasons or time of day. One client bought this ever-changing floral artwork, went on holiday and came back to find the flowers were totally different. They called us to say they liked it better before, but we told them they would have to wait a year to see their favourite July flower again!

ABOVE: Two teamLab digital artworks exhibited by Sydney gallery Martin Browne Contemporary, including six-channel 'Four Seasons, a 1000 Years, Terraced Rice Fields – Tashibunosho' and endless 9-channel work 'Continuous Life and Death at the Now of Eternity'

What’s your social media of choice?
We have Facebook, Twitter and our favourite Instagram. Instagram works well for us because our artwork is very photogenic, so people like taking pictures at our exhibitions and posting them online.

Where’s on your travel wish list?
We do a lot of projects all over the world, so I travel all the time. After this I go to China. We get inspiration from everywhere, with shows like ‘Future Park’ touring from Asia to the US and Europe.

What’s next for teamLab?
On 21 June we have a huge permanent exhibition coming up called 'teamLab Borderless' about transcending borders. It’s at the MORI Building in Odaiba, Tokyo, and involves 520 computers, 470 projectors, 40 artworks and 10,000 square metres of three-dimensional space. We’re exploring the idea of connecting all the artworks together so there will be no borders between them. Everything is linked in some way, so for instance those little guys you’re looking at will go out of the artwork and go into another world or appear over there. We also have a Paris exhibition starting in May called ‘teamLab Au-delà des limites’.

ABOVE: Upcoming temporary Paris show 'teamLab Au-delà des limites'; and permanent Tokyo exhibition 'teamLab Borderless', in which 'artworks leave rooms and move, artworks communicate with other artworks, and artworks fuse with other artworks', breaking down the boundaries between art, the viewer and other people

teamlab.art
‘Learn & Play! teamLab Future Park presented by Toyota’ is at the Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney, Australia, until 30 April 2018. It will also open at Yang Art Museum, 3rd Floor, Building 14, Solana, No 6 Chaoyang Park Road, Chaoyang, Beijing, China from 25 June to 7 October 2018.

Catch ‘teamLab Au-delà des limites’ at Grande Halle de La Villette, Parc de la Villette, 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris, France, from 15 May to 9 September 2018. ‘Epson teamLab Borderless’ will be on show permanently at Mori Building Digital Art Museum at Palette Town, Odaiba, 1-3-8 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan, from 21 June 2018. See teamLab exhibitions for other current and future installations.

LYNDA GARDENER Curated

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She made her name with cult store Empire Vintage in Melbourne’s Albert Park, a sharp-eyed edit of vintage and industrial pieces, recently reborn as Lynda Gardener: Curated. As well as shopping the look fans can experience it in person too, thanks to Lynda Gardener’s four stylish stays in and around town. Having founded studio Gardener & Marks with a friend, Lynda has now gone it alone, offering interior design services under her own name.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

Tell us about your Melbourne store's new direction.
Since I was a very young girl, I’ve always searched to find that special one-off piece to treasure and give it a new home! I still do – it’s in my blood and is what I love. The new store is back to more old and a touch of new, and will constantly be evolving. I have always loved collecting and now that my personal storage is at overload, I have decided to delve back in and sell stock from my private collections, large and small, from country furniture to milliners’ hat blocks, crockery and industrial foundry pieces. Curated is all about one-off pieces sourced and salvaged over many years. As in my own home I do love a mix of old and a touch of new. 

ABOVE: Lynda Gardener with her cocker spaniel Jack ('Wallpaper Frocks' by UK designer Deborah Bowness)
ABOVE RIGHT: Vintage meets new at revamped Albert Park store Lynda Gardener: Curated in Melbourne
BELOW: New southside Melbourne boutique stay The Apartment St Kilda

What inspired the interiors of your latest Melbourne boutique stay The Apartment St Kilda?
I wanted something very fresh, white and light. The Apartment overlooks lovely green lush old gardens which belong to the building, so bringing lots of green in with foliage and indoor plants, lots of white paint and my love for the mix of old and new is what makes the space so special.

What about the interiors of your recently launched stay The Estate Trentham in country Victoria just outside town?
The Estate is very different again, a more Scandinavian influence – skins, rugs, lots of deep comfortable couches to laze on and lie in front of the fire and read, lovely old wool blankets and oil paintings. It combines old and new finds and lots of textures and layers. The Estate is also all about the garden, as we have gorgeous herb gardens that evolve and change yearly. Right now we are planting a tea garden there with our wonderful gardener, so guests can create their own brews and teas.

BELOW: Stylish stay The Estate Trentham, in rustic Trentham near Melbourne, combines subtle neutrals, textures and layers

ABOVE: Cosy-cool cottage getaway The White House, in Victoria's spa town Daylesford, near Melbourne, mixes pretty with industrial-vintage

What was the design style for your first two boutique stays, The White House in rural Daylesford and The White Room in Melbourne's inner-city Fitzroy?
The White House is a very cosy, warm rustic house with interiors with lots of layers and textures – wallpapers, rugs, throws, leather, linen and lots of it. 

The White Room is part of a former mattress factory and I wanted to keep a constant flow with industrial lighting and a mix of industrial furniture for a very white warehouse studio feel. It also features personal collections of art work, books and one-off finds.

ABOVE: White, grey and blue rule at industrial-vintage sanctuary The White Room, in Fitzroy, Melbourne

Where do you source decor pieces, and what do you look for?
I am pretty random and there is no one place in particular. I like being spontaneous and not planning too much ahead. I love to find pieces and then be inspired by them to create a room and look. Since way back I’ve been sourcing from local and overseas markets, and if I’m travelling I never miss a Sunday market. I also have fabulous contacts that I can turn to as well as my own personal collection that I have started to source specific pieces from for different installations. 

What's your design philosophy?
Mix old with new. Make your home your own by putting your own stamp on it, either with something you love to collect or perhaps a colour or tone you love and stick with it, like collections all in white, or a cluster of landscapes on one wall to create a feature. I like the house to flow from the front to the back and to stick to a colour all the way through – for instance white, greys, or a black and white room. The Estate is all about browns, mushroom and whites, just naturals. 

ABOVE: Sleeping two, The White Room's open-plan bedroom/study/kitchen opens up to an airy courtyard terrace

Where do you get inspiration? 
From everywhere and anything, it changes all the time. These days I find inspiration on Instagram, with so much fantastic food for thought rolling around every minute of the day. I love it as I do Pinterest, another great source of inspiration for me. I still buy my favourite interior magazines and coffee-table books, which I pile up and love flicking though often. Other people, mainly all the great stylists out there, continually inspire me, as does history and architecture. I am a great wanderer and love being randomly inspired by something I may have walked by many times, however on a different day, thinking about different things, it will stand out.

Who are your design heroes? Or which era, aesthetic, building or interior has influenced you the most?
Once again I have so many – I probably love a little something from every era, generally anything old and with character. However, that is about to change with a new build in the making for next year. I can’t wait as that’s a true challenge for me.

BELOW: Touches of green, from plants to vases and art, liven up boho beauty The Apartment St Kilda near Melbourne's bay

What's currently exciting you in design or style?
It excites me that so many looks and styles are going around and really no one way or another is right or wrong. We are so lucky to be able to create any look we want and not have to stick with trends that are ‘now’ or short term. I love Scandinavian, and yet I love very bohemian styles currently too. For me it depends on the space you are decorating and which way it tends to lean. Some places just speak to you instantly and that’s the way I tend to go.

Where's on your travel wish list?
Copenhagen is next on my list. I have never travelled to Denmark and I am keen to check out the city and its surrounds. I’m excited by Danish design’s use of simple clean lines, and their interior style and architecture. I just want to roam the streets, eat, look and discover.

What's your social media of choice?
Instagram as I find it almost relaxing flicking through everyone’s lives all around the world. It’s instant and fast yet so, so inspiring seeing so many creative people doing something different every day, or in fact every hour!

BELOW: Deli-cafe Oxford Larder in Melbourne's inner-north Collingwood is one of Lynda Gardener's favourite new spots for a snack

What are your top Melbourne tips?
I have always lived in Fitzroy and I can never get enough of it. I am forever excited about visiting a new cafe, bar or store. Gertrude Street, Smith Street and all the back streets of Collingwood are my favourite spots. My current faves are Marion wine bar in Gertrude Street – I love the interior and the casual dining/drinking feel oozing style. Café-deli Oxford Larder in Collingwood is my little local favourite, which is owned by very good friends of mine. An old stamping ground is Babka café on Brunswick Street for its great food, bread and cakes – the best! I don’t think it has changed in any way for the past 30 years and it has had the same owner from day one. Baker D. Chirico in Carlton is known for its outstanding fit-out, styling and, of course, delicious bread, food, desserts and staff. Neighbourhood Wine, hidden in the back streets off Nicholson Street, also has great food.

Lynda Gardener: Curated is at 63 Cardigan Place, Albert Park, Melbourne. See websites in Q&A for Lynda's four self-catering stays

Pictures: Lisa Cohen (select shots)

PATRIZIA MOROSO – Moroso Part 2

Patrizia Moroso is art director of Italian furniture brand Moroso, the influential company started by her father Agostino in 1952. Moroso is known as one of the most daring, dynamic and ultra-contemporary design brands in the world, championing new and established talents. In Part 2 of our Q&A, we discover what makes its feisty figurehead tick…

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What were your highlights from Moroso’s Milan Furniture Fair launch in April?
I loved launching the ‘Triclinium’ sofa by Front in Milan, and Doshi Levien’s ‘Armada’ seating collection, inspired by 17th-century sailing boats, was fantastic. Also the striking ‘Belt’ sofa – Patricia Urquiola wanted to refresh the idea of a sofa, to create an object that wasn’t compact, solid and precise, but was fresh, soft and sustainable. It’s suspended on an aluminium structure, and you can change the cushions on it like the duvet on your bed. You keep the shape together using belts.

ABOVE: Swedish design trio Front's 'Triclinium' sofa for Moroso, launched at April's Milan Furniture Fair, was inspired by ancient Roman rituals of reclining, feasting and socialising on a single seat

What's your design philosophy?
I hate the word trend – there are no trends for me. I don’t like to follow a trend, I prefer to follow the thinking of someone, so a designer thinking is interesting, a trend is not interesting. Besides, the big trends of the recent past have all finished, like minimalism or post-modernism, or all those movements that have names. That big wave thinking has now disappeared, leaving many little philosophies, not one main one. Some might find this confusing, but for me it’s freedom.

Where do you get inspiration?
I love people with fantastic brains and creativity. I love music and art, and by artist I mean someone that uses creativity – I love inspired people that give to life. Design, and the history of design, is also inspiring. I remember being wowed when I first visited Milan, and the Salone, with my parents when I was young, coming from a little town in the north-east of Italy. Everything was beautiful, surprising, full of incredible people. That was a strong influence on me.

ABOVE: Doshi Levien's 'Armada' chair collection for Moroso's Milan 2016 collection includes cocooning sides that billow out like boat sails

Who are your design heroes?
For me, it’s Italian design from the Seventies. When I was a teenager, I was very inspired in the Seventies, and my life changed, because the thinking was very radical, and also design and architecture were absolutely radical, so I grew up believing design could change people’s lives. One of the big masters for me was Ettore Sottsass. He didn’t make a lot of things, but he really changed the way of thinking, and that is so important. Alongside Sottsass was Alessandro Mendini – these two people changed everything in interiors and many things from the past disappeared – plop – in one moment. They introduced colour and fun to our lives. I think you need a little bit of irony, love and fun in things you use or put in your home.

What's currently exciting you in design or style?
The freedom. In the Seventies designers were really breaking down a big wall of convention, and after that came a lot of moments of rethinking, and post-modernism, but now we don’t have the walls and the thinking is free. So you can find someone thinking in one way, and someone else in a totally different direction. Production is also incredibly diverse around the world, even just within Italy.

ABOVE: The new 'Belt' sofa by the other Patricia (Urquiola) for Moroso is formed from soft cushions folded over to form back and arm rests, secured by eye-catching belts

Where's on your travel wish list?
Anywhere can be inspiring. For me, it’s going to New York to see art galleries, or London to have fun with music, or Paris to enjoy the museums and see the old art of the past. What’s interesting is humanity. For my happiness, I like to see what great people can do – to see a dancer or painter or scientist discovering something is so joyful. The potential of human beings is the best thing.

What's your social media of choice?
It’s crazy but I don’t really use any social media. I’m a terrible person, I hate Facebook! I think a minimum of privacy is so important in life. I don’t like to be eaten up by someone that wants to know everything! We have a lot of friends, so I don’t need another friend that I don’t know. My children use it, but I prefer my privacy – and if I want to contact someone I call them. I find the telephone such a beautiful, warm media. If possible I go by car to visit people or if it’s too far then the phone reaches everyone, everywhere. Social media is very important for developing ideas and helping people connect in a positive way, but that is not my way. I like a little more humanity.

ABOVE: Tord Boontje's 'O' chair for Milan 2016 was inspired by his daughter's dreamcatcher and Senegalese weaving; Marc Thorpe's 'Baobab' table for the launch also sports vibrant African influences, from tree shapes to patterns.

What's next for Moroso?
We’re planning the collection for next April’s Milan fair. We know Patricia will do a fantastic sofa. Ron Arad, Ross Lovegrove and Tord Boontje are also doing something – that is sort of the group of old friends – and also Jonathan and Nipa from Doshi Levien. Then I always include something new and surprising, by a young designer or someone who doesn’t usually do design. I try to have a recipe for our ‘dinner’ in April so I know that we need good main ingredients, but also the spices, some leaves and maybe a flower.
moroso.it  hubfurniture.com.au

See Moroso's latest limited edition collaborations with Australian fashion designers at Hub's furniture showrooms at 63 Exhibition Street, CBD, Melbourne and 66-72 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, until Christmas 2016, alongside highlights from the collection; for more details see Part 1 of our Q&A with Patrizia Moroso

ABOVE: Dutch duo Scholten & Baijings' neon-bright 2015 'Ottoman' for Moroso; fellow countryman Edward van Vliet expanded his colourful collection of 'Sushi' seating with 2016's 'Ariel' small armchair and 'Juju rendez-vous' bench; Swiss-based, Argentine talent Alfredo Häberli's 2016 'Take a Line For a Walk' chaise longue joins his bold 2003 armchair of the same name

PATRIZIA MOROSO Moroso – Part 1

Italian furniture brand Moroso’s creative director, Patrizia Moroso, is known for curating bold collections that break new ground in interiors. Her collaborations have developed the careers of many of design’s biggest names. Currently touring Australia with Hub furniture to source new talent and launch limited edition upholstery by seven local fashion and accessory designers, Patrizia caught up with the Fizz.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What's happening on your current Australian trip with Hub furniture?
I’m here for two weeks for Moroso doing launches and presentations with Hub in Melbourne and Sydney, and also visiting Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art. Australia is a country I love. The first time I came in 2003 I was with Patricia Urquiola at the beginning of our work relationship, and we became real friends during that trip. We spent an amazing long weekend in the desert centre at Uluru. We also went to Melbourne and Sydney, which were super-fantastic, modern and bright, and everywhere women were managing the museums, galleries and shops. So there is a sort of genius loci [spirit of place] here I think, and now in this modern period it belongs to women. Australia is a very contemporary continent, a little different from the rest of the world, with a lot of potential.
 

ABOVE: Design guru Patrizia Moroso
BELOW: A trio of Alfredo Häberli's iconic 2003 'Take a Line For a Walk' armchairs for Moroso in fabrics by Australian jeans label Nobody Denim, fashion designer Martin Grant and messenger bag brand Crumpler

ABOVE: Four 2005 'Smock' chairs by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso upholstered by Australian fashion talents KuwaiiAkira Isogawa, Lisa Gorman and Steven Khalil

What kind of fresh talent are you hoping to find through the Moroso Design Speed Date project?
The Design Speed Dating was organised by Hub’s team to introduce me to some young Australian designers, with 20 short pitches in Melbourne and 20 in Sydney, to source potential collaborations. It’s an interesting exchange between someone that usually works in furniture design and some young talents that usually work in fashion or other disciplines. If someone is bright when designing a printed fashion fabric that’s not so far from when we are imagining the cover for a chair. It’s like imagining the perfect dress for someone, so when you are changing the skin of the object, you are also changing its personality and attitude. We wanted to mix things up. 

ABOVE: Black-and-white upholstery for Alfredo Häberli's 'Take a Line For a Walk' chair by Melbourne bag and luggage brand Crumpler; Melbourne fashion label Kawaii's fabric on Patricia Urquiola's 'Smock' chair; Detail of 'Smock' chair upholstered by patterntastic Melbourne fashion brand Gorman

How do you identify great collaborators?
Nothing is precise, like everything in life, so I leave things a little up to destiny. I’m interested in people that I like, so in the end you find your friends and companions in life in the same road that you are walking. What makes a synergy between people is that they probably share interests, experiences, ideas or emotions. I’m quite empathetic about who I’d love to work with. It’s like the way you usually know who will be your friends in two minutes. They could already be famous and great designers, or they could be young and having their first design experience with me, it’s a very human response.

What's your role in fostering talent at Moroso?
I just try to find someone interesting and we try to make something together. I give a chance to young people or to people that have interesting ideas. I always hope young designers can one day develop their own super story. After a collaboration what they do is not up to me, of course, but many times they have become pretty famous, like Doshi Levien or Tord Boontje and many others that started their career with Moroso. In many cases they were going to be someone with good ideas and great work anyway, it’s not because of me, I just try to spot them early!

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Regular Moroso collaborators include Spanish superstar Patricia Urquiola and Dutch designer Tord Boontje

What fuels your long creative relationship with Patricia Urquiola?
When I first met Patricia she was a young Spanish girl working in Italy, in a fantastic design firm. She wanted to establish her own studio but it was not easy to find someone who would put faith in a young woman. Back then the world of design was not full of women – now it’s different, fortunately you can find a lot – but at that time it was more difficult, so when we met each other it was like an instant click. For me it was clear she had a great talent, but also it was easy for me to communicate with her because she was a woman, and for her it was the same, throwing her ideas to someone understanding. And so we started collaborating and now she is a huge, important name.

ABOVE: Patricia Urquiola's striking Moroso booth design for the 2016 Milan Furniture Fair eschewed fixed walls for lightness. ‘Patty put together the idea of colour, toile fabric and transparency to divide the space, so it was like a labyrinth of rooms where you could lose yourself a little,' says Patrizia Moroso

How do you like to work with designers?
Many companies have a strict relationship with one designer, like in fashion where you have a brand producing a name. I try to give many designers a chance to do something in our collection. That way you can find a multiplicity of ideas and styles, and that makes me happy. It’s more like real life, where every day you meet very different people, and I love that diversity. I love the inspiration that comes to me through designers, like when Tord Boontje’s romantic idea of nature changed the minimal, functional aesthetic that was everywhere around 2000. He’s a unique man that has a special sensibility like a Romantic late 19th-century artist. For me that was absolutely fascinating, so wow, yes, we had to explore this thing! To give visibility to ideas is fantastic. Sameness, and standardisation, kills everything. I try to do something different from normality or banality. 
moroso.it  hubfurniture.com.au

See Moroso's limited edition chair collaboration with Australian designers at the Hub showrooms at 63 Exhibition Street, CBD, Melbourne and 66-72 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, Sydney until Christmas 2016. Patrizia will also take part in a free talk in Sydney on 10 October 2016 (book for limited places). For more insights click on Part 2 of our Q&A.

Photos: Limited edition chairs, Jenah Piwanski; Tord Boontje, Angela Moore

LAB DE STU

Cutting-edge Melbourne design collective LAB DE STU has a knack for creating furniture and lights in graphic contemporary shapes and interesting colours. The trio – including Adam Lynch and Dale Hardiman (of Dowel Jones) and André Hnatojko – is also involved with limited edition, design-art platform 1-OK Club and unveils new collection's this week at 2016's Maison&Objet Asia, where they're exhibiting as Rising Asian Talents.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s with your name?
The name LAB DE STU is short for Laboratory Design Studio. It originally explained the vision of the studio, but was shortened soon after for ease because one of the designers had a stutter. This shortened name also reflected the change from studio to collective. 2016 sees LAB DE STU evolve into a brand.

How did you three hook up and what do you each bring to the party?
We met studying Furniture Design at Melbourne's RMIT together in 2011. We were quite young when we first founded the studio, so we really banded together as we were all friends. We each have very different focuses so the most important thing is that we all bring diverse perspectives and opinions.

ABOVE FROM LEFT: LAB DE STU trio Adam Lynch and Dale Hardiman (of Dowel Jones) and André Hnatojko
ABOVE RIGHT: The flat-packed 'Mr. Dowel Jones' tripod light by Dowel Jones. Made of Tasmanian oak and rubber, it comes in desk or floor sizes
BELOW: Launching at 2016's Maison&Objet Asia is Dowel Jones's first wire product, the 'Bradley Hooper' side table, coffee table and stool available in various colours and tops

What do you like to design and what’s your style?
We don’t strive to have a specific style, we are informed by market research and conversations with our manufacturers. Our style may be representative of who we work with.

Tell us about your Maison&Objet Asia exhibition?
As we all produce different work under the name LAB DE STU, we’ve decided to unify the designs through the use of colour. All but two works in the exhibition will be from new collections never seen before. Maison&Objet Asia will see the presentation of three new collections: André Hnatojko will be releasing his latest range of lighting, and Dale Hardiman and Adam Lynch’s brand Dowel Jones will release two furniture collections, including the steel 'Bradley Hooper' side tables, inspired by basketball hoops, which come in two frame sizes with tops in cork, walnut or ash.

How do you feel about being showcased as part of Asia’s design scene?
We’ve been recognised through various awards programmes and exhibitions within Australia since our founding in 2011, but we’ve never been labelled as rising talent internationally, so it’s greatly appreciated and quite amazing to be representing Australia and Australian design at Maison&Objet Asia. We’ve been lucky enough to present work in Europe over the years, but never in Asia, so the ability to exhibit in Singapore is fantastic. 

BELOW FROM LEFT: Dale Hardiman and Ash Allen's limited-edition 'Factory Works' vessel for 1-OK Club in extruded rubber coil, set on a found glass object that was then smashed; Dowel Jones's graphic 'Mr Merger' pendant light, in brass and rubber, with rotatable heads

Where or how do you get inspiration?
Inspiration comes from problem solving and usually from the most uncommon of places. Our practices involve looking at preexisting product typologies or problems and exploring them with the aid of manufacturers. We find the most interesting projects can come from visiting the strangest factories!

What’s currently exciting you in design or style?
We get excited by process and materials, so finding new methods or experimental materials influences our work and aesthetic. Bold colour has always been something we like to use, whether in products, styling or displays.

Who are your design heroes?
There is an endless list of people and eras who have influenced the three of us. We generally focus on experimental designers such as Max Lamb and Formafantasma, but also respect brands which make common products in a special way, for example Copenhagen's Wrong For Hay and New York's Good Thing.

BELOW: LAB DE STU's 'Hurdle Family' by Dowel Jones, including the 'Full Hurdle' and 'Half Hurdle' chairs

ABOVE: The 'Hurdle Tray' side table comes in covetable colours

Is Melbourne a big influence on you? And where’s on your travel wish list?
Our focus is predominantly on collaborating with local manufacturers, so living in a country with manufacturing forever moving away is difficult and influences all aspects of our design work. Asia is on our travel wish list as we’re always looking to Europe, America and Scandinavian countries for design, yet we are so close to Asia and there is such growth and opportunity in the design discipline there.

What’s your social media of choice?
We predominantly use Instagram as a quick and responsive way to introduce work and display interior projects. It's also a great way to get instant feedback from the public.
labdestu.com.au

LAB DE STU is exhibiting from 8-11 March 2016 as part of the Rising Asian Talents showcase at Maison&Objet Asia at Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. For past Fizz coverage of Dowel Jones, see their contribution to The Broadsheet Restaurant.

Pictures: Cricket Studio cricket-studio.com.au