Before Nicole Lawrence was an industrial designer and furniture maker she was a textile producer, lighting designer and trained silversmith. But no matter her title, she has always been a hand-crafter.
‘Manufacturing processes drive my design direction,’ she says. We first met Nicole when she was crafting pleated bags under the brand Three Fold Studio, working with a local pleater that had been in business for 86 years. She originally studied Gold and Silversmithing at NMIT Trade School, later going on to study Industrial Design at RMIT. For the past six years, she has also been working with major local lighting designer Christopher Boots. It’s safe to say that Nicole knows her stuff!
After releasing her own cult status double-headed table lamp in collaboration with jeweller Seb Brown in 2018, this range of curvy, colourful steel shelves and tables is the latest manifestation of Nicole’s manufacturing-led design approach.
Working out of a Northcote workshop she shares with her partner, artist Basil Papoutsidis, and local concrete-smiths Mortadello Terrazzo, the process starts with her hand sketching and digitally rendering the designs. The steel is then cut off-site and returned to Nicole who assembles, welds, wires and surfaces all the elements herself, before sending them off to be powder coated in a range of fab colours.
For Nicole, the relationship with each of the people who help bring her curved creations to life is just as important as the pieces themselves. ‘I love the fact that I can drive to go visit my suppliers, from the team that cut the curved profiles… to the powder coaters who apply the bright colours and the people who make the cardboard I package the pieces in’, she says. Working with local suppliers also means Nicole can operate on a predominately ‘made to order’ model, ‘which reduces waste, encourages considered purchasing’, allowing her business to grow in a more environmentally and economically sustainable way.
Nicole’s designs have taken off with such a bang that she will be displaying them at four different shows at Melbourne Design Week next year – and despite all the craziness 2020 has entailed, she’s found much to be grateful for. ‘To be perfectly honest, I loved lockdown for my creative practice,’ she admits. ‘I was able to throw myself in the deep end with a singular focus and create space for thought and development.’
When it comes to Nicole’s work, this is less of a ‘Watch-this-space’ situation and more of ‘Quick, catch up!’ scenario. We can’t wait to see what she does next!
Love Nicole’s designs? See more of her work here.