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Touching Space

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 13th September 2012

Georgette table lamp in Tas Oak with powdercoated steel base and linen shade, by Stuart Williams / Touching Space.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Georgette table lamp in Tas Oak with powdercoated steel base and linen shade, by Stuart Williams / Touching Space.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Stuart Williams in his Hobart studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

I’m sure it’s always been there, but it really feels like I’m seeing so much excellent design  from Tasmania on show and in the press right now – it is great to see Tassie’s great craftmanship getting some well deserved recognition at present!

We first spotted these handcrafted lamps by Hobart-based studio Touching Space at Design : Made : Trade earlier this year, where they were exhibited as part of Tasmania’s Design Island collective.  Today we’re following up with a little studio visit and a chat with Touching Space designer Stuart Williams.

Originally from Perth, Stuart ended up in Tassie after competing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race!  In 2004 he completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in furniture design at the University of Tasmania, and in 2007 launched his design studio.

Since then Stuart’s work has been commissioned for a bunch of seriously impressive projects, including the State Library of Tasmania, Baker D. Chirico in St Kilda, and the Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart.  He has developed a great variety of products over the past few years, from custom cabinetry to smaller handcrafted timber homewares, and our personal fave – the ‘Georgette’ table lamps you see above, which are distributed nationally.

In addition to running his design studio, Stewart sits on the board of Designed Objects Tasmania – a not for profit organisation that promotes design in Tasmania by providing local designers with links with the manufacturing sector, studios, professional development workshops and exhibitions.

We asked Stuart a few questions about his background and his practice –

Hi Stuart!  Can you tell us a little bit about your background – what did you study and what path led you to becoming a furniture/lighting designer?

I have always been a dreamer – I have a visual brain. I think I was always destined to do a visual or sensory based profession. I first studied architectural drafting but only lasted 6 months after graduating, I had trouble drawing other people’s designs and found it a bit uninspiring. I then went adventuring around Australia, living in Broome and Darwin where I learnt to cook, make things and sell them at the markets. After that I managed to get on a boat and sailed in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. When I got off the boat I found my home! After a stint cooking and doing some adventure based counselling I found out about the furniture design course at the university in Hobart.  I feel as though I was incredibly lucky to have found it!  It taught me a way of thinking, how to solve a problem and having the courage to dream something up and make it a reality.

How long has Touching Space been in existence and how did it begin?

I established Touching Space in 2007, after exhibiting in Milan with FORM and Curtin University. I went to Milan ready to be humbled by the great design talent of the rest of the world, and came back inspired, realising that Australian design had just as much merit. I then developed a range of pendant lighting with the help of a grant from arts WA and grew from there.

What general process is involved in the creation of your designs?

I make the timber component myself, but outsource the electrical components, steel parts and the shades – then I put everything together.

I am continually trying to strip back my work making it as simple and honest as I can. Finding a way to connect, to belong to a place, something we can all relate to. This is what firstly informs my design process, then, it’s the sustainability, both economic and environmental. Being in Tasmania I need to create work that can come apart for transport or suffer the cost of big transit fees!  With these lamps, I wanted to make something that could come apart easily, be recycled if needed or parts replaced if broken.

Big thanks to Stuart for sharing his work with us today!  His national stockists include Tongue and Groove in Melbourne, Workshopped in Sydney and ECC lighting in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.  (Other stockists listed here)

Details from Stuart’s South Hobart studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Details from Stuart’s South Hobart studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 13th September 2012

9 comments

  • Sarah 2 years ago

    Enjoyed the article! My husband and I have admired Stuart’s work at Handmark Gallery in Hobart – and now it’s so interesting to read about this talented designer. Thanks for the post, and congratulations Stuart.

  • Janet 2 years ago

    Always admired your work.

  • Phoebe 2 years ago

    I’ve been coveting those lamps since DMT! Very cool. I love the little glimpse into the studio.

  • Kath W 2 years ago

    Outstandingly beautiful lamps. I have been seeking a floor-lamp version of this but have only found them at Workroom in NZ. Good on that splendid outfit Tongue & Groove for stocking these.

  • Margie 2 years ago

    Wow Stuart – such a well-rounded path to design – this obviously informs your beautiful work. Great to hear too that you’re part of such an excellent organisation as DOT – these sorts of links from design to industry and manufacturing is the way forward for both industries in this country!

  • Gina 2 years ago

    I saw these lights and the cabinets at design island/design made trade, love them both.

  • Elizabeth 2 years ago

    I have seen some of the lamps in ECC Lighting in Sydney – truly beautiful and makes you want to go up to them & touch them. Thank you for sharing this with us out here in ‘I wish I had one…’ land.

  • Jane 2 years ago

    Beautiful work, really inspiring.

  • Michelle 2 years ago

    Oh I just found this! Not only is Stuart a talented designer – but he also makes the best ice cream ever!

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