It’s hard to define furniture designer Zachary Frankel’s style. That’s because he’s dabbled in a bit of everything since starting his own experimental practice a few years ago, creating sculptural pieces and objects that aren’t restricted to a singular look, medium or material.
For some, mastering one thing is hard enough, but Zachary says he’s been led by ‘curiosity’ across the two decades that he’s been a working as a maker. He originally trained as a jeweller, but found himself drawn to the ‘tactility and utility’ of furniture, and started crafting wooden pieces, before turning his mind to design.
‘That mentally opened the door to a range of other things including sculpture and lighting, and led me to explore other materials like stone and recycled plastic,’ he notes.
‘I also came back around to metals like brass, bronze, steel, and aluminium. I spend a lot of time playing around with new techniques and materials, which has led me to where I am now.’
It means every day in Zachary’s light-filled studio – in the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking – looks different. Sometimes he’s using hammers and chisels to slowly hand-carve his Fold Side Tables and colourful Ripple Mirrors. Other days he’s creating custom commissions, or utilising professional turners and CNC operators.
The time it takes to create his pieces varies a lot, too, ranging from between two and up to 20 days. But one of the defining themes that’s woven throughout all the versatile designer’s works, is his interest in the past.
‘Some of my references in the last few years have been from the Art Deco period,’ Zachary says. ‘I’m drawn to the simplified and bold geometric forms.’
Other inspirations include antiques from Chinese dynasties, and prolific Italian designers from the 40s-70s like Vico Magistretti (who created the famous mushroom-like Oluce Atollo lamp!), Achille Castiglioni, and the mid-century works of Paolo Buffa.
‘While their visual styles are quite different, they all honour the past, look to the future and have an element of irony and joy, which is how I look at my own work,’ Zachary adds.
And maybe that’s the best description for Zachary’s own overarching aesthetic – pieces that feel boldly contemporary, with nods to the past.
Shop Zachary Frankel’s work online here.