Remember my post recently about the Crumpler US trade show stand? The stand was designed by Crumpler’s in-house designer Joel Adams, and won them many accolades, including an award for best stand at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008 in Salt Lake City.
Joel’s role at Crumpler seems like a dream job for a designer – his work is so varied – from illustrative and graphic designs (like that great custom lining design in the top 2 product shots), to shop fit-outs, catalogues, product design, and packaging. Joel manages to divide his time between sketching up concepts from home, to hours spent in front of a computer screen, to (more exciting) time spent in his workshop knocking up prototypes etc. Never a dull moment!
Joel has had an interesting and varied background – before jumping on the Crumpler bandwagon he had a hand to play in the fantastic interior fit-out of Melbourne bar ‘The Croft Institute’, which (for non-Melburnians) is kitted out like a kind of hospital/scientific laboratory. Joel has had many jobs in the manufacturing and building areas, from welding and carpentry to landscaping and shop-fitting. Seems like the perfect varied experience to bring to the table at an exciting company like Crumpler.
Tell me a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?
In 1992 I started a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in sculpture, which is where I met Stuart Crumpler (current employer) who was also studying sculpture. After uni I spent several years focused on making art. During this time I worked several different jobs in different manufacturing and building areas, from welding and carpentry to landscaping. For several years I was self employed doing general building and shop-fitting work, which led to opening a bar in Melbourne, for a couple of years. After leaving that I lived in the country for a couple of years, just making art and odd jobs for people. I moved back to Melbourne to go back to study a masters degree in sculpture, during which I bumped into Dave (one of the owners of Crumpler) who offered me a job. A couple weeks later I dropped out of study and started work as a designer.
What are some of your projects/clients that we might be familiar with?
Apart from the work done with Crumpler, the most familiar would be my involvement in the design of The Croft Institute, a bar in the back alleys of Chinatown in Melbourne.
Where do you find inspiration when beginning a new project?
I find that the project will sometimes define the direction of where the inspiration will come from, but usually I am just looking at a lot of books, at previous work, websites, toy shops. Thinking about function and material influence the way in which I will be thinking about the project.
Are there any particular designers, artists or creative people you look up to or are inspired by?
I am inspired by many different creative people across a lot of fields. Early on the Dadaists were a big influence, especially Marcel Duchamp. Artists such as Wim Delvoye, Joseph Cornell, Bonk Industries, probably too many to mention. Designers such as Piet Hein Eek, and many of the designers who are part of the Droog Collective.
Are you influenced by trends in the broader design world – like fashion, architecture etc?
I am lucky in that most of my friends either are in fashion, architecture and design or are artists, so I’m immersed in this world which influences and informs the way I work.
What does a typical day at work involve for you? How is your time divided between drawing with pencil and paper, sitting in front of a computer, and knocking up prototypes in a workshop/studio?
These days I find myself spending more time in front of a computer, but I still manage to get into my workshop once a week. Depending on my projects at the time I will be meeting up with manufacturers and testing prototypes. A lot of my early prep work will take place at home just sketching ideas. My job involves so many different areas – I could be working on a shop design, a new catalogue, product design, or packaging. It changes a lot and has a lot of variety.
Do you ever feel disadvantaged or limited by being based in Australia? Do you have experience with international manufacturing or distribution?
I don’t see any disadvantage currently by being based in Australia. Since working with Crumpler I have travelled throughout the US setting up tradeshows, spent time in Toronto working on shop designs, and spent some time in China working with our manufacturers based there.
What are you most proud of professionally?
The last two tradeshow stands both received a good response at all the shows we attended. One was constructed out of cardboard boxes, to resemble animal cages. The latest is a highly detailed etching-style print of a city scape, printed onto building-shaped shelving units. Both stands included elements such as customised flooring and hanging mobiles.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The variety of projects I get to work on and the freedom I have been given to explore ideas.
And the worst?
The hours when deadlines need to be met.
What would be your dream project?
Probably designing and building my own home.
What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?
Setting up my workshop and creating and exploring my own ideas further.
Melbourne Questions –
What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
Pizza Mein Leibe in Northcote.
Where do you shop in Melbourne for workshop supplies, art materials or other tools of your trade?
Brims and Gunnersons for timber etc, Deans art for art supplies, Carba-tec for woodworking supplies and Hafele for all sorts of cabinet making supplies.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Hopefully in the Grampians, having a coffee and staring at the mountains with my lady friend and our little girl.
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
Order and Progress, in Curtin House