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8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

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There’s no shortage of young creatives in Melbourne dedicated to pushing the boundaries in furniture design. Boldly challenging the rise of fast-furniture with their original and enduring pieces, their innovation and creativity reminds us that simple, everyday objects can be just as beautiful as they are functional.

Here are eight of our favourite designers and makers reimagining the traditional shapes of chairs, sofas, tables and wall hooks as unique pieces of art!

29th June, 2022

Monde’s signature modular sofa! Photo – Camille Laddawan

It’s available in a wide range of fabrics and finishes. Photo – Camille Laddawan

Christina Karras
Wednesday 29th June 2022

Monde

Tilly Barber started her eco-conscious sofa business, Monde, as a lockdown project with a friend to explore the nuances of furniture design. She had previously worked with restoration and sale of vintage furniture and decided to take it one step further with her bespoke, modular sofas.

‘Considering how much of our landfill problem can be attributed to planned obsolescence and ignorance in the furniture design industry, I saw potential for Monde to be more than a sofa but also a way to address consumption and waste through thoughtful and responsible design.’

Each Monde unit is fabricated from Greentag-certified recyclable foam and upholstered in top tier sustainable finishes by a team of exceptional makers in Melbourne.

Price point
Prices vary as each sofa is made-to-order, depending on fabrics, size, and configuration. Lead times are up to 12 weeks.

Where to buy it
Contact Monde on hello@mondestudio.com.au to arrange a phone consultation or appointment in their Collingwood Yards studio.

Fold Side Table by Zachary Frankel. Photo – Henry King

Zachary Frankel. Photo – Justyn Burrowes

Ripple Mirror by Zachary Frankel. Photo – Lilli Waters

Stools from Zachary’s Arc Series. Photo – Charlie Hawks

Zachary Frankel

There’s no denying Zachary Frankel is one of the rising stars of our local design scene. He’s been making furniture for about 11 years, but only developed a particular focus on exploring design within the last four or so. His diverse work ranges from bright, arched structures to smooth forms, often drawing inspiration from bygone eras of architecture.

While some pieces can be made in just three or four days, one of his pieces took him about two years to create! ‘I want to make really ambitious work and that means a lot of time, but I also believe in providing good affordable design, so I try to consider how long things are going to take me,’ Zachary notes.

Price point
Larger pieces range from about $4000-$7000, while smaller objects like side tables, stools and mirrors range from $500-$1100.

Where to buy it
Shop Zachary’s designs through his website or or email hello@zacharyfrankel.com for custom sizes and finishes.

Smooth Side Table and Coffee Table by Nicole Lawrence. Photo – Nicholas Wilkins

Pillar Shelf/Medium by Nicole Lawrence. Photo – Nicholas Wilkins

Nicole Lawrence Studio

You’ll probably recognise Melbourne-based designer Nicole Lawrence’s curvy furniture from Instagram – or from right here on TDF! She’s behind the floating shelves and colourful coffee tables that have been brightening up people’s homes since launching her slow-furniture studio two years ago.

‘I have always enjoyed getting my hands dirty and having tangible outcomes for my hard work at the end of the day,’ Nicole says. Her pieces are characterised by their smooth edges, which she says make them ‘relaxing’ additions to any space, and we agree!

Price point
Prices range from $350–$2000.

Where to buy it
Shop Nicole’s made-to-order pieces through her website.

Designer Dalton Stewart. Photo – Georgia Smedley.

One of his innovative works! Photo – Arini Byng

Photo – Arini Byng

A sleek and sharp coffee table. Photo – Arini Byng

Dalton Stewart

Dalton Stewart creates incredible sculptural pieces that play with unexpected materials and processes. His abstract work ranges from plinths of rock embedded with metal shelves, and futuristic-looking tables.

‘My practice is inspired and has developed from my on-going interest in the reciprocal interactions between the disciplines of art and architecture,’ Dalton says. ‘At the moment I am really inspired by the work of Swiss architects Peter Markli and Valerio Olgiati.’

Where to buy it
Contact Dalton via email at dalton.gl.stewart@gmail.com.

Livio with one of his prototype creations! Photo – Leif Prenzlau

He created it during a 30-minute chair exercise. Photo – Leif Prenzlau

Another unique chair. Photo – Leif Prenzlau

Simple but sculptural. Photo – Leif Prenzlau

Livio Tobler

Livio Tobler is a master maker of experimental everyday objects. The emerging creative was a graphic designer and carpenter before the pandemic pushed him to explore furniture design. ‘The designing and building has been a natural transition,’ Livio says.

‘My main inspirations come from raw elements; materials in their simplest form, childhood memories, my motherland (Switzerland) and my daughter.’ His meticulous shape-making is showcased best in some of his ‘crude, experimental prototypes’ of chairs, which Livio can (amazingly) create within about an hour. ‘The commissions on the other hand are made over the course of a few days to weeks,’ he adds.

Where to buy it
Contact Livio at liviotobler@gmail.com to commission a piece.

The Wobble Coffee Table by Objects By Kit in Ours Fitzroy. Photo – Shelley Horan

The Cherub Console. Photo – Shelley Horan

Objects By Kit

Katie Ford is keeping the wavy interiors trend alive with her brand, Objects By Kit. We featured her funky and fun rugs just a few months ago, and now the range has expanded with two, brand-new pieces – the Wobble Coffee Table and Cherub Console. Designed by Katie, both are made in Victoria by local manufacturers and reflect Katie’s love of colourful, chunky shapes.

J’ean Royère and Ettore Sottsass are designers I tend to always go back to and reference, they both were doing wiggly cutouts in the 50s and 60s!’ she adds.

Price point
Rugs start at $1650, furniture ranges from $2550-$2850.

Where to buy it
The new pieces will be live on Object By Kit’s website soon, but you can currently purchase them via Instagram DM or email kit@objectsbykit.com.

Matchbook Chair by Bootleg Studio. Photo – Bootleg Studio

Flourish Hook by Bootleg Studio. Photo – Bootleg Studio

Blind Stool by Bootleg Studio. Photo – Kelly Thompson

Designer Thomas Morton. Photo – Courtesy Thomas Morton

Bootleg Studio

Former architect-turned-furniture designer Thomas Morton started ‘making furniture and sculpture work for fun in 2019’. But in 2020, he decided to turn his hobby into a fully-fledged business, dubbed Bootleg Studio, to support himself during Melbourne’s lockdowns.

‘It was backyard beginnings thanks to a small shed and some forgiving housemates,’ Tom says.

Everything is handmade with ‘some specialised metal working jigs’ that help him craft wiggly wall hooks, stools and his intricate Matchbook chairs out of iron. It’s a motif that he noticed had ‘been used to death in the suburban landscape of Australia’. ‘At the end of the day I was interested in how new ideas and forms could emerge from quite traditional techniques of building.’

Price point
Hooks start from around $40-$140, while more elaborate chairs are in the range of $400-$1400

Where to buy it
Shop Bootleg Studio via their website, or email tom@bootlegstudio.com for custom creations

The Bell Bottom Stools by Kathleen Prentice. Photo – Courtesy Kathleen Prentice

Kathleen by the Melt Console. Photo – Courtesy Kathleen Prentice

Kathleen Prentice

Designer Kathleen Prentice fell in love with making furniture on the first day of her furniture design subject while studying a Bachelor of Design in 2015. ‘My teacher at the time gave us a piece of paper and said to come up with the title of the work first and let it drive the form. Since then, I have been obsessed,’ she adds.

Her aptly titled Bell Bottom Stools are inspired by the ‘70s pants of the same name, emulating their playful shape with brightly coloured steel that’s locally manufactured by CM Steel in Melbourne. We love!

Price point
The Bell Bottom Stools start from $350, while the Melt Console is $1450. Both are customisable and come in a range of colours.

Where to buy it
Shop Kathleen’s work from Ours in Fitzroy, online store SBW, or via her website.

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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