This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

James Walsh · Igneous

Creative People

The most attention the average person pays to the humble bluestone paver, is that turn-back-and-blame-the-ground reaction after embarrassingly stumbling on some uneven cobbles.

Graduate designer James Walsh, however, saw much more than an insentient scapegoat. Using an innovative sand-casting technique, James turns the sludge by-product of bluestone into truly unique lighting designs – pretty impressive for a university graduation project!

19th September, 2017

James Walsh‘s ‘Igneous’ lighting design, co-created with Ash Allen. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The duo turned bluestone sludge by-product into a lava, and reformed it into a solid composite through their innovative sand-casting technique. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

‘It wasn’t until I began researching natural materials that were locally manufactured, that I became curious as to how this traditional material could be used in a contemporary approach,’ tells James. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

James and Ash. It is at Ash’s factory in Thomastown that James had the opportunity to develop his graduation project ideas, collaborating with the generous, established furniture designer to experiment with kilns with other amazing machinery. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

‘Now that I’ve graduated I want to keep discovering new ways of making, and as a designer I don’t think you should ever stop experimenting!’ tells James. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Tuesday 19th September 2017

‘I want to keep discovering new ways of making, and as a designer I don’t think you should ever stop experimenting.” – James Walsh

 

Having always had an affinity for drawing, James Walsh‘s first study path was a Fine Arts degree at RMIT University in Melbourne. After two semesters, though, he felt compelled to explore a more three-dimensional field, and switched to Industrial Design. ‘My focus was always to learn by doing, whether it be exploring wood-working, metal forming or casting,’ the designer explains. ‘After my first few years of making a furniture with typical wire bending, welding and other methods, I developed an interest in experimentation of materials and process, which was the basis for my Honours project “Igneous”.’

‘Igneous’ is James’ remarkable lighting project, born from the question: ‘What is quintessentially Victorian?’. Researching materials in response, James came to find that granite was locally sourced and produced in Castlemaine and Mount Alexander, where he visited factories and quarries to discover both traditional and contemporary processors. ‘The more I investigated these local materials, the more I found myself noticing bluestone pavers all around me, on my walks to uni on a daily basis,’ he recalls.

Honing in on this commonplace building stone, James discovered a bluestone factory just 20 minutes west of Melbourne, which opened his eyes to the staggering amount of waste material produced from the cutting of the stone. ‘On my first visit to this factory I discovered a skip filled to the brim with bluestone sludge, all of which was heading straight to landfill,’ he tells. ‘This was the turning point of the project for me, where I knew exactly what material I was going to be working with… I just didn’t know what was to come at that point.’

It was then that the 26-year-old designer/maker joined forces with established furniture designer Ash Allen. ‘As you can imagine, not many people were willing to create molten stone in their kilns, Ash on the other hand seemed excited by the idea,’ recalls James. After their first experiment in Ash’s Thomastown factory, they discovered that they could successfully turn bluestone sludge into a lava, and reform it into a solid! Pushing and refining that process, they were able to create the striking colours and patterns evident in James’ finished wall light.

‘This process utilises a simple sand-casting method, that safely melts volcanic stone in a kiln, at temperatures in excess of 1,200ºC (!!),’ details James. ‘Though sand-casting has been traditionally used to melt and form metals, Ash and myself have focused on using igneous rocks (meaning from fire), such as bluestone and granite to investigate the potential of natural materials.’

The inquisitive young creative is riding the high of this discovery, thought he has found it challenging to get his creations out to potential customers. ‘It seems there is a real void in many design courses, where there is no education on marketing and business. You learn the skills on how to sketch, engineer, and make an object, but at the end of the day you need to be able to sell your product,’ he explains, before praising Melbourne’s diverse creative community for being willing to help one another out. Huge props to Ash Allen for taking a chance on the young gun’s trailblazing idea – we hope to see more from this ingenious duo!

Find out more or enquire about James Walsh’s ‘Igneous’ via his website, here, where you can also follow his current experiments transforming granite into obsidian, in addition to his other furniture and lighting designs.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Furniture

Alex Earl

New designs from the boundary-pushing and resourceful creative.
Elle Murrell

Lighting

Luke Mills

The Sunshine-based designer unveils his Raw Series and Hat Pendant lights.
Elle Murrell

Industrial Design

Milan Design Fair 2017 · Cast Impressions by Studio Henry Wilson

The Sydney-based designer unveils new desktop accessories at Aesop's Milan store.
Elle Murrell

This Week

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!
Sasha Gattermayr
  22 hours ago

Architecture

A Minimal Intervention Weatherboard Home Makeover

A Seddon weatherboard renovation by Circle Studio Architects that doesn’t erase its past, but firmly enhances its future.

Shopping

The Ultimate Outdoor Furniture Guide

From sleek and chic to fun and playful, here are four different schemes for the outdoor dining situation of your dreams!

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

News

WIN A One-Of-A-Kind Artwork By Local Artist Dave Kulesza - aka Boris Bombay!

Bombay Sapphire are giving away a nostalgia-fuelled, pop art-esque tiled artwork by Boris Bombay (aka Dave Kulesza) to one lucky winner!
Sponsored

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

Architecture

A Traditional Queenslander Turned Multigenerational, Japanese-Inspired Home

Arcke architects lifted this Queenslander to accommodate a two-bedroom apartment underneath, and provide better connections to the outdoors
Amelia Barnes
  14 hours ago

Stays

Stay Off-Grid In A Tiny House, Or Restored 1890s Hut, On The One NSW Property!

Escape to one of two tiny houses or a restored 1890 hut at Wildernest, located on the edge of the NSW Southern Highlands.

Homes

Designer Anna Spiro’s Heavenly Island Home

The celebrated interior designer shares her relaxed yet luxurious Minjerribah/North Stradbroke holiday house.

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

Similar Stories

Furniture

Alex Earl

New designs from the boundary-pushing and resourceful creative.
Elle Murrell

Lighting

Luke Mills

The Sunshine-based designer unveils his Raw Series and Hat Pendant lights.
Elle Murrell

Industrial Design

Milan Design Fair 2017 · Cast Impressions by Studio Henry Wilson

The Sydney-based designer unveils new desktop accessories at Aesop's Milan store.
Elle Murrell

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.