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George & Willy, Making Everyday Tools Great Again

Creative People

Do not let the laddish and laid-back charm of today’s designers fool you! They may describe themselves as starting from a ‘tin shed’ but the boys behind George & Willy have built their business using the know-how of their degrees in commerce.

We chat with the New Zealander duo about starting George & Willy after university, and their approach to making everyday life better designed. The pair has also increased our vocab – we are truly ‘fizzing’ about their work.

9th August, 2018

From tin shed to design studio. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

George and Will love to play and tinker in the studio. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Many of the designs George and Will produce are addressing items the pair needed for themselves but couldn’t find on the market. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

George Wilkins and Will McCallum. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

The studio roller. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Letter Display. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Designs to improve daily life. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Daily roller. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Making clothes drying aesthetically pleasing as well as functional with the Hanging Drying Rack. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Firestarter. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Keep up to date with the Daily Roller. Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Draw on the walls! Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Will and George enjoying the New Zealand outdoors! Photo – courtesy of George & Willy.

Miriam McGarry
Thursday 9th August 2018

‘We call them everyday tools, things which make your daily life easier, better and more enjoyable’ – George Wilkins.

George Wilkins and Will McCallum were childhood pals, who reconnected at university while studying commerce. As part of the degree, the pair elected to take classes in design, and soon found themselves more excited by the university workshop than their commerce lectures (can you blame them?). Will explains that the design workshop was filled with ‘all sorts of tools and materials to play with, and having come from a childhood of tinkering in the shed we were both ‘fizzing’ to get in there.’ The pair were like kids in a candy store, making everything from indoor swings, lamps, toy helicopters and giant matchsticks!

The duo soon found themselves increasingly committed to spending time in the workshop, and when they were ‘supposed to be applying for graduate jobs, just kept making things over summer.’ After graduating, they started painting houses in order to generate an income, and spent time in the workshop for love – until slowly they found themselves  painting less and making/designing more.  ‘There wasn’t really a moment where we decided, let’s make a design studio, we just ended up there by making things that we liked.’ Will explains.

This energy and ‘matter of fact’ approach is evident in the clever collection of functional pieces the pair have produced. Each object is informed by a simple desire to make ‘daily life easier, better and more enjoyable’.

George & Willy studio is perhaps most recognised for their inventive approaches to signage, such as Letter Display and Baker Menu – interactive design pieces for restaurants and cafes. Will explains that ‘when you go into a cafe, craft brewery or anywhere with a menu, it’s the first thing you look at…  and there just aren’t that many options out there for exciting menus that are quick, easy and good.’

Their latest creation is a sleek laundry drying rack, next on the drawing board is a new indoor plant wall divider…  and we love their wall mounted paper rolls. Getting through your everyday ‘To Do’ list never looked so appealing…!

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net