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Designer Jordan Fleming Makes Playful ‘Creatures’ That Double As Lamps

Studio Visit

Jordan Fleming’s handcrafted furniture and objects are like functional pieces of art, and they’re full of personality. Her kooky, towering colourful Bright Things lamps feature distinctively long legs and imperfect textures, reminiscent of ‘creatures’ from a children’s storybook that could come alive at any moment!

We visited the innovative Melbourne-based designer and artist in her shared warehouse studio to hear more about her work and inspirations – including iconic Italian homewares brand Alessi’s bold characters, and James Turrell‘s emotive light installations.

5th December, 2022

Inside Jordan’s studio, which she shares with painter Georgia Spain and Georgia Morgan in Preston! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The creative moved from Sydney to Melbourne earlier this year. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The talented Jordan beside one of her quirky Bright Things! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Their towering scale, human-sized proportions and physicality are paired with a matte handmade surface to create their creature-like personalities. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘It’s possible that by adding humanistic and emotional reference points to the pieces, they are elevated beyond their programmatic function, encouraging the viewer to connect and engage with them.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘I try to keep three separate zones in my studio space: the ‘clean’ computer/reference desk, the metal/timber bench and the chaotic plaster/ pigment area… but to be honest I spent a most of my time just cleaning up after myself!’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Her diverse references are just as playful and bold as her final pieces. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘The armature of my sculpture pieces is either made by me or a fabricator in Melbourne,’ Jordan says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘Slowly I build up the form with a custom plaster mix, cutting back layers as it cures and adding more.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘In the final coats I mix in the raw pigments to create the final finish.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Pastel, playful colours imbue them with a childlike nostalgia. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘I’m interested in exploring ways to remove the static element of an object, injecting life into it beyond a pretty facade,’ Jordan notes. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Each piece takes about 1-2 weeks to cure, depending on the season. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Christina Karras
Monday 5th December 2022

‘I’m interested in exploring ways to remove the static element of an object’ – Jordan Fleming

It doesn’t take much imagination to see why Melbourne designer Jordan Fleming’s pieces are often referred to as ‘creatures’. Her sculptural mushroom lamps and their gangly legs have an intriguing quality about them, standing in slightly wobbly poses that suggest they might ‘scuttle away’ at any moment.

Since debuting these distinctive Bright Things at Melbourne Design Week 2021, the young designer’s work has been turning the heads. But Jordan is far from an overnight success – in fact, she has been designing and making things since childhood.

Growing up, Jordan watched her dad, a carpenter, create worlds while building film sets. When she studied object design at the University of New South Wales, she also worked in ‘various jobs’ in the art department, and even breifly undertook a cabinet making apprenticeship. Fast-forward to today, and she’s an interior designer by day, who’s also been working on her own furniture design practice since 2018.

‘I’m definitely much freer in my practice over the past few years, trying not to over edit the origins of the idea or fixate too much on the function of the object,’ Jordan explains. ‘I’m interested in exploring ways to remove the static element of an object, injecting life into it beyond a pretty facade, after all, we collect and live with these objects around us: they are our creativity personified.’

She describes her current aesthetic as ‘wonky’, ‘imperfect’ and ‘anamorphic’ – and she says she sometimes even spooks herself when she mistakes one of her large lamps for a person standing awkwardly in the corner!

A myriad of influences offer insights into Jordan’s distinctive aesthetic. She traces some aspects back to her childhood, where she spent ‘a lot of time daydreaming’, fascinated by the worlds Jeannie Baker, collaged in her picture books. Other influences range from painter William Turner to the colourful installations of James Turrell.

‘When it came to design, Alessi, was definitely my first introduction of what design can “be”,’ Jordan says. ‘Especially the more ‘creature’ inspired pieces and their mirror finish chrome. The idea that a juicer could look anything but like a juicer… like Louise Bourgeois sculpture whilst also a huntsman spider, or a creature from War Of The Worlds.’

There’s also an irony within the organic or ‘loose’ appearances of Jordan’s pieces, as in reality, a very precise process in required to bring these creations to life. All  pieces are made by hand and rigorously prototyped, using mesh, a custom plaster mix and raw pigments to create their layered forms.

Jordan is already working on a new body of work for Melbourne Design Week 2023, and we can’t wait to see what she dreams up next!

See and shop Jordan’s work through Modern Times here.

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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