Today we tour the Collingwood workshop of multi-disciplinary designer Alex Earl.
The boundary-pushing and resourceful creative gives us a preview of new lighting pieces and other fascinating furniture-meets-tech designs.
Alex Earl has long been a maker, it’s a compulsion he hasn’t ever been able to shake. The furniture designer grew up on a bush property, and had access to some pretty crazy tools in a huge workshop and studio – Alex’s mother was a ceramicist and his dad an engineer and metallurgist (a metals scientist – word of the day!). At the age of seven, Alex was crafting small ceramics to sell at shops, and using his mum’s kiln burner to forge knives from old coach bolts. ‘I made basically anything and everything!’ he reminisces. ‘I still have the scars on my hands from flakes of red-hot steel!’
Not all that much has changed in the years since Alex’s inquisitive and productive childhood. After a short-lived stint undertaking an arts degree at Monash University, he enrolled to study creative arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, and went on to major in creative writing and sculpture. Here, he found himself constantly drawn to the workshop full of tools and materials with which to tinker around.
For this craftsman, the intrigue is in exploring the possibilities of different materials, and challenging ideas about how things ought to be made. ‘Someone saying that something can’t be done is often a big catalyst for me – I’ve never been content to take someone’s word for it, or to follow rules and orthodoxy,’ explains Alex. ‘It’s probably really annoying, but whether something works or not, I’d rather follow it through if I believe it can be, or if someone else’s answer doesn’t satisfy me.’
Focusing on furniture in the past, more recently Alex has been working on a range of wooden lighting features and sculptural sound-systems-cum-art-pieces. ‘I like to create objects that don’t reveal themselves until the moment electricity or external forces are brought to them, whether they be lights, amplifiers or musical instruments,’ he explains. Cue his new Antenna Light, which came together without being sketched nor prototyped, as well the Telegon circular design, which, on the other hand, took countless arduous iterations to complete, pushing his team’s advanced 3D-machining skills and manufacturing techniques.
This year, the designer is moving towards more complex, large scale sculptural designs. ‘I’m coming back to my background in sculpture, and it’s been very liberating to approach design with a no-compromise philosophy again,’ he says. ‘This year is really about exploring possibilities in all areas, and having fun while doing it.’ – and we’re left believing it’s never to late to adopt that resolution too!
Alex Earl’s Sound System One and Telegon wall light will be released this month. For more information visit his website, here.