Adam Cruikshank is a seriously talented young Australian furniture designer, with an old-fashioned approach to design and product development. For the past few years, Adam has been squirrelled away in WA, honing his skills and developing an impressive body of work, with the support of FORM - WA's leading creative body, and a grant from the Department of Culture and Arts.
After graduating in 2007 with a BA in Product Design from Curtin University, and a diploma in Art/Furniture Design at the Australian School of Fine Wood, Adam launched his own studio, specialising in product design and manufacture for independent retailers, and bespoke furniture commissions. Then based at FORM's Midland Atelier workshop, Adam was fortunate to work alongside established designer-maker Jon Goulder (who heads up the Midland Atelier team), and to complete an internship and New Zealand-based designer David Trubridge in 2010.
It's taken Adam five years of developing his skills and personal creative direction to launch his own debut range of small-production furniture. This elegant collection, showcasing Adam's incredible talent and interest in computer aided craftmanship, launched with an exhibition in Fremantle last month, and will travel to Melbourne early next year. I am seriously impressed! No doubt we'll be seeing very big things over the next few years from this promising young Australian designer.
We asked Adam a few questions about his work and his background -
As a child I lived in different places around the world and my parents had a huge appreciation for art galleries and museums. So, I grew up being exposed to different cultures and environments from an early age. I guess I started making stuff when I was young – five or six – in my parents’ garage. It started with small-scale things, then developed into larger objects as I got older.
My first business in furniture design and making began in Newcastle in 1998. In 2003, I decided I needed to spruce up my design skills with formal training, so I moved to Dwelingup, WA, to go to the Australian School of Fine Wood, which was the best woodwork school in Australia at the time. It turned out it was very much hands on, and I was already pretty confident with building stuff, but they had a connection with Curtin University.
I graduated in 2007 with a BA in Product Design (Curtin University) and a diploma in Art/Furniture Design (Australian School of Fine Wood), then started a business in design and manufacture based at the Midland Railway Workshop in WA. During this time, I also attended creative and business development workshops at FORM - WA’s leading creative body, which assisted me in taking new designs to the marketplace.
My business has always operated on two fronts - product design and manufacture for independent retailers and galleries across Australia, and bespoke furniture commissions. I have wanted to establish an independent design studio for a long time. It has been building since my early attempts prior to mature-age studies. I felt that I had the drive and passion needed and went for it. So, here I am!
FORM and the Midland Atelier has been an amazing experience for my professional development. FORM has been incredible in their support through training and mentorships, and providing a world-class facility for designers to work from. The Midland Atelier was crucial to developing my style and finding my direction in the industry.
FORM also set up a mentorship for me with David Trubridge. I spent a few weeks at his studio/factory in New Zealand and he came and spent time at the Midland Atelier, then we had an inspiring trip to the gorges of Karrijinni National Park. I have been inspired by him on many different levels.
Whilst at FORM I also got to work alongside other designer-makers, including working with Jon Goulder and the architects from Woods Bagot to design and make furniture for an exclusive corporate fit-out (Wesfarmers’ executive floor) in 2011.
At the end of 2011, I received a grant from the Department of Culture and Arts to design and build a new collection of furniture and lighting, which has just been exhibited in Fremantle, and will travel to Melbourne next year.
My process involves making rough little models and sketches, which get progressed on the computer or as a full-scale ‘mock-up’. The concept will then sit around the workshop until I can identify whether it’s worth pursuing. It then gets completely engineered on Solid Works, the 3D modelling program I use. This allows me to extract the drawings to be programmed on a CNC router to machine most of the components.
Integrating the CNC into the process allows more challenging concepts to evolve. One of drivers for me is to push materials into new forms through innovating new techniques. I have been experimenting with folding and tensioning, as you see in this collection. I have had a great response to my latest collection and am now back in the workshop working on new designs.
At the moment I am marketing my new catalogue of work – some designs are being produced for retailers, while for the bespoke crafted designs I will be dealing with interior designers and clients directly. And I will continue to explore and develop new concepts though commissions. Some of the new work will be launched at Tongue & Groove in Melbourne, and I am currently sourcing a retailer in Melbourne for a larger display for early 2013 - anyone?!
Big thanks to Adam for sharing his story with us today - we wish him the best of luck launching his debut furniture collection nationally over the coming months.