DesignByThem had me at hello. Or, more specifically – at their Dial Hose Hanger. It seemed such simple genius to make a ubiquitous backyard eye-saw aesthetically pleasing, finally! Why had no one thought of this sooner?!
So, who is the ‘them’ to which they mysteriously refer? DesignByThem (DBT) is a furniture and object design house co-founded by Sydney designers Nicholas Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson in 2006, after identifying a need for an Australian design brand that brought local together designers under the one umbrella. They’ve since worked with a wealth of local talent including Tommy Cehak, Stefan Lie, Gary Galego, Stewart Hollestein and Seaton McKeon to the DBT family.
Both Industrial Design graduates of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sarah and Nick actually conceived the idea for their business in their second year of study. After graduation Nick went on to work at a design consultancy, and Sarah worked at a commercial furniture company, however both eventually left these jobs to take up part-time teaching gigs at UTS, while simultaneously taking the plunge and launching their own business. ‘It took us a few years to develop a range of products before we could approach other designers to be part of the brand,’ Sarah explains.
The DBT collaboration model works in a few different ways. As Nick explains, ‘Sometimes designers come to us with a basic concept, and we work with them to refine their idea into a developed concept. Other times we are given a production-ready design and we work with the designer to make minor adjustments before releasing the product to market.’
DesignByThem are quite flexible with their product ranges, choosing not to specialise in any one niche area. Their collection consists of furniture, lighting and homewares, and even some garden-ware products. ‘Our focus is on the key values of our products – durability, a sense of fun, timelessness and sustainability,’ says Sarah.
DBT’s latest product offering is the ‘Them Chair’, which was developed out of a desire to create a high-end timber chair that could balance advanced manufacturing techniques with a high level of craftsmanship, attention to detail and simplicity. Easier said than done – as Sarah describes ‘designing a unique timber chair was a difficult balancing act, but we are so happy with the outcome!’
Nick and Sarah aim to design pieces that will stand the test of time, and to achieve this, they look to the past when designing for the future. ‘We want to create designs that have aesthetic longevity – and one way we test this is to imagine our products in the past. Hopefully if they look good in the past then they will continue looking good in the future!’ says Nick.