Dowel Jones Unveils First Upholstered Collection At 'LOBBY'

It’s a double dose of content from the U.S. today as NYCxDESIGN, New York City’s annual celebration of design, gets well underway.

Melbourne’s Dowel Jones is there to unveil its new Sister collection, designed by designer Tom Hancocks, in trailblazing style! We visit their immersive virtual reality experience-slash-exhibition LOBBY.

Elle Murrell

Adam Lynch (left) and Dale Hardiman (centre) of Dowel Jones’ unveil their new designs by NY based Aussie designer Tom Hancocks (right) in New York. Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

The collection has been unveiled at a special showcase, ‘LOBBY’, presented at NYC retailer Coming Soon, and as part of Sight Unseen OFFSITE 2018. Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

Photo – courtesy of  Dowel Jones.

For their debut showcase, the ‘Sister’ chairs are presented in Kvadarat textiles and pink velvet, along with matching or contrasting frames. Photo – courtesy of  Dowel Jones.

The new range of upholstered lounge chairs (and first upholstered collection) called ‘Sister’. Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

The installation has visitors experience the chairs while immersed in VR environments. Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

The soft, tactile upholstered pieces feature the brand’s signature tubular steel. Photo – courtesy of  Dowel Jones.

The current (but growing) range comprises two lounge chairs. Photo – courtesy of  Dowel Jones.

‘We’ve followed Sight Unseen since we first began studying design in 2011, so the opportunity to work directly with SU was unmissable!’ says Dale. ‘We were also incredibly lucky to have Coming Soon work with us on this project, as they’re a perfect collaborator for our brand.’ Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

Photo – Brooke Holm for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
18th of May 2018

‘The design process for Sister was one of the most interesting we’ve been involved in,’ begins Dale Hardiman, co-founder of Dowel Jones. You see, NYC-based Australian designer Tom Hancocks developed the designs entirely using digital 3D renders  – a more freeform approach than Dowel Jones’ ‘constrained use of form’ – before the Australian studio translated these into physical realisations, with the help of their local manufacturers.

Dowel Jones has been a great admirer of Tom’s work for many years, and deemed him the perfect candidate for their first ‘outsider’-designed collection. ‘We met Tom last year when we collaborated on the campaign images for the Thimble range. It was great luck that he happened to be visiting Melbourne around this time, and mentioned that he was interested in producing physical products,’ recalls Dale.

And so followed a hat-trick of firsts. LOBBY, Dowel Jones’ exhibition at store Coming Soon as part of Sight Unseen OFFSITE, is the Melbourne-based studio’s first showcase during NYCxDESIGN, and also their first upholstered collection to date.

The current (but growing) range features two lounge chairs using the tubular bent steel that has become synonymous with many of Dowel Jones’ designs. At LOBBY, these are presented with upholstered seats in Kvadarat textiles and velvet, along with colour-coordinated or contrasting frames.‘Coming Soon are well known for their use of pink, so we wanted to make chairs especially for them in pink velvet with pink frames,’ explains Dale.

But there’s even more to LOBBY than debuts and special-edition hues. ‘With each collection we present, we produce a series of campaign images to present works in unrealistic stylised environments,’ Dale tells. ‘Over the past few years we’ve been interested in how we can further explore these environments, and virtual reality (VR) seemed like the perfect match to expand on this. We also didn’t want to limit the experience of the exhibition just to what could be seen in the space.’

The idea is, that while exhibit-goers sit in the Sister chairs, feeling the softness of the upholstery, they enter VR and experience environments curated by Dowel Jones. Importantly, the immersive visuals of places are all accompanied by the sound of lobby music (*the penny drops*). ‘In this exhibition, we see LOBBY  being an in-between space – between the physical product and the digital space. As the digital space continues to develop, VR and augmented reality seem like great directions to be moving into,’ details Dale. ‘We’ve always talked about how we can create more sensorial experiences to understand our work.’

The duo is quietly chuffed to be amongst an impressive representation of Australian designers showing in New York this year. They kindly leave us (and anyone else grounded in Australia with FOMO) with a to-stalk-on-Instagram list, including Adam Goodrum, Adam Cornish, Kate Stokes, Adam Markovitz, and Ross Gardam – cheers technology!

LOBBY  by Dowel Jones
Until May 20th
Friday 12pm-7:30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11am-7pm
Coming Soon
37 Orchard Street, New York

LOBBY  Party
Sunday, May 30th, 4pm-6pm

Find out more here, and stay tuned for Dowel Jones‘ next Australia-based project with Lamington Drive in August.

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