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

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Studio Visit

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti was frustrated with the predominantly digital nature of her interior design degree. With her background in ceramics and sculpture, there wasn’t enough hand-making in the digital-dominated realm to satisfy the kind of design Brigitte was looking to practise.

A stint in Canada introduced Brigitte to furniture-making, and she hasn’t looked back! (Except to graduate from her interior architecture course with Honours, of course.) She launched Real Non-Real in 2020, the brand under which she designs curvy steel pieces that defy the traditional single-purpose functionality of furniture.

17th January, 2022

A wall of tools and implements in Brigitte’s Coburg North workshop. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Wiggly prototypes scattered around on display. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Brigitte in her space! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The brains behind Real Non-Real is inspired by 20th century Italian furniture design and the interiors of Eileen Gray. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The Formosa wall rack in use! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Bending her own materials by hand. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Trying out new materials. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A finished ‘Formosa’ stand, Brigitte’s signature piece! Photo – Tom Ross.

The multi-functional piece could be a hat-stand, coat rack, bedside table and towel rail all in one! Photo – Tom Ross.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 17th January 2022

‘I’m really just excited about making pieces that improve the functionality of seemingly mundane parts of daily life.’ – Brigitte Owers-Buccianti

When we first ran a story on Brigitte Owers-Buccianti eye-catching Formosa stand in 2020, the headline was: ‘This Wiggly Coatstand Can Be Anything You Want It To Be’. Eighteen months later, that is still the underlying purpose of all Brigitte’s designs, created under her business name, Real Non-Real.

Focused on multi-functionality and making versatile design pieces that look great, Brigitte’s designs combine numerous pieces of furniture in one. Her signature Formosa, made from seven metres of bent powder-coated steel and a conical cement base, for example, could be a hat-stand, coat-rack, towel rail, bedside table or all of the above. For an exclusive collection for Modern Times, Brigitte fused the Formosa stand with the Méta bench to add a seating component to the already multi-purpose piece.

Brigitte shares a workshop in Coburg North with a guitar luthier, a knife maker and two woodworkers. This is where the interior-design-student-turned-furniture-designer conjures the designs for her bent steel pieces inspired by a combination of 20th century Italian furniture and Eileen Gray’s interiors.

Hello Brigitte! You’ve had a pretty varied design background and training, including interior design, sculpture and ceramics  industrial design. What brought you to furniture design?

I began with studying fine art at RMIT (majoring in ceramics and sculpture) but I felt I wanted to scale my design up so I transferred into interior design. I then became frustrated with always designing things in the digital realm and that projects were never actualised, which is how i ended up designing furniture I could actually make (unlike 3d modelling where you can go on and on forever and nothing is truly finished).

How did you learn your craft?

In 2019, I was lucky enough to do exchange in Toronto, Canada, where I took two classes – furniture design and furniture construction. They were predominantly woodworking based, however I’ve always been drawn to metal and so I spent most of my free-time outside of class in the metalworking shop, learning how to bend, weld and finish metal from the amazing student technicians that worked there.

What is the process of actually making one of your pieces?

Each piece is handmade in Brunswick by the amazing Dustin from Us From Space. The floor Formosa uses just under seven meters of steel (!) and is hand-bent using a machine that is actually designed for making custom motorcycle parts.

I then pour and finish the cement bases, however I have decided to no longer make these bases out of cement and am in the process of working on an alternative.

What do you think is your ‘voice’ in the furniture design field?

I’m really just excited about making pieces that improve the functionality of seemingly mundane parts of daily life: like walking in the door and having a space to put your things so you don’t lose them.

I’m also excited about making multi-functional pieces of furniture that are time and space saving. Again, placing emphasis on making daily routines and rituals more enjoyable.

Do you have any key references or inspirations?

A huge inspiration for me is 20th century Italian furniture and object design. The pieces were embedding with the ability to be customised and transformed to suit the user and their changing needs. Also, Eileen Gray’s interiors and approach to adaptable furniture are fundamental in my way of approaching design.

What does design mean to you, and what do you hope to communicate?

Design to me is making daily life more pleasant, whether that’s functionally or aesthetically or, even better, combining the two!

Pre-sales for the Wall Formosa and Floor Formosa open in February here. The Formosa stand with Méta bench base is available exclusively through Modern Times.

Brigitte’s work will be shown as part of Craft Victoria’s new series By/Product from March 8th – 27th.

This Week

On The Market

A Former Shopfront Turned Architecturally-Designed Home In Coburg Hits The Market

Behind an unassuming facade unfolds a brilliantly designed and sun-filled Coburg home, and it's for sale!

Studio Visit

Inside Elena Strohfeldt's Beautifully Therapeutic Ceramics Practice

How the self taught artist started making ceramics as a way to work through a painful trauma, channeling it into whimsical vessels.
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

Stays

Escape To An Adorable Country Cottage Overlooking The Grampians

Stoneycroft Cottage features a 1864-built bluestone cottage and converted shearer's quarters, on a picturesque farm in regional Victoria!
Christina Karras
  12 hours ago

Architecture

Turning Back Time In A Classic Melbourne Brick Home

Agius Scorpo Architects strip a Yarraville, Melbourne house back to basics, revealing and enhancing functional spaces within.
Amelia Barnes
  4 hours ago

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

Father's Day Favourites

Elevate Your Dad's Wardrobe This Father's Day With An Epic 20% Off Seed Heritage!

Seed Heritage has everything you need to level up your gift-giving efforts and dad’s personal style - and we have a special 20% offer for
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Creative People

Seven Standout Emerging Creatives of 2021

Discovering talented new creatives is our favourite thing we do – here are the artists, designers and makers who got us talking in 2021.

Creative People

Nicole Lawrence Is Making The Coloured, Curvy Furniture Blowing Up Your Instagram

Melbourne-based industrial designer Nicole Lawrence launches her eponymous furniture brand with a range of powder-coated steel shelves.
Sasha Gattermayr

Furniture

A Three-In-One Design Practice From A One-Woman-Show

Furniture designer Lauren Lea Haynes creates squishy upholstered chairs, powder-coated coffee tables + limestone sculptures from her shared

This Week

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

Architecture

Turning Back Time In A Classic Melbourne Brick Home

Agius Scorpo Architects strip a Yarraville, Melbourne house back to basics, revealing and enhancing functional spaces within.
Amelia Barnes
  4 hours ago

Father's Day Favourites

Elevate Your Dad's Wardrobe This Father's Day With An Epic 20% Off Seed Heritage!

Seed Heritage has everything you need to level up your gift-giving efforts and dad’s personal style - and we have a special 20% offer for
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Inside Elena Strohfeldt's Beautifully Therapeutic Ceramics Practice

How the self taught artist started making ceramics as a way to work through a painful trauma, channeling it into whimsical vessels.
Christina Karras

Stays

Escape To An Adorable Country Cottage Overlooking The Grampians

Stoneycroft Cottage features a 1864-built bluestone cottage and converted shearer's quarters, on a picturesque farm in regional Victoria!
Christina Karras
  12 hours ago

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

On The Market

A Former Shopfront Turned Architecturally-Designed Home In Coburg Hits The Market

Behind an unassuming facade unfolds a brilliantly designed and sun-filled Coburg home, and it's for sale!

Similar Stories

Creative People

Seven Standout Emerging Creatives of 2021

The artists, designers and makers who got us talking in 2021.

Creative People

Nicole Lawrence Is Making The Coloured, Curvy Furniture Blowing Up Your Instagram

Melbourne-based industrial designer Nicole Lawrence launches her eponymous furniture brand with a range of powder-coated steel shelves.
Sasha Gattermayr

Furniture

A Three-In-One Design Practice From A One-Woman-Show

Furniture designer Lauren Lea Haynes creates squishy upholstered chairs, powder-coated coffee tables + limestone sculptures from her shared

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