In my experience, Australians seem to travel in packs of two or more. Each time I've met an Australian, one, two or more of their countrymen are close by. At Dwell on Design this past weekend, I met six in one booth.
The six form Quench, a collective of designers from Queensland, Australia, who all smartly pool their resources, whether they're sharing manufacturers, or studios, or a tradeshow booth at Dwell. Each represented himself individually, but all together (with their space) confirmed another Australian stereotype of mine: they are fun, engaging, and colorful.
Luxx Box's Watch Out
David Shaw's Flow
There was David Shaw's "Flow" planter, a divider/bench/planter nicely done in white and grey powder-coated steel. Flow is representative of Shaw's public works design, for his studio Street and Garden Furniture Co. He creates bus benches, bike racks, drinking fountains, etc., with a clean yet classic sensibility greatly needed in public works design (at least in the U.S.).
Luxx Box's Milk and Tingle
Alexander Lotersztain, with his studio Derlot Editions, and Jason Bird's Luxx Box brought the playful color to the Quench booth. Derlot had "Picket," a lovely table with a solid Tasmanian oak top and brightly colored, powder-coated steel legs. The legs are an appealingly chunky, rounded-tube shape. Luxx Box brought the most color, showing a range of colors in the Milk stool, recyclable polyethylene Tingle seat, and Watch Out, a colorful take on the old industrial sconce.
Designer Bjorn Rust put on a performance of sorts in the space - making slow-drip coffee in his "Pour-Over" manual coffee maker. Rust essentially took the form of the classic Chemex pour-over glass pitchers and deconstructed it, making each essential part a different material. The filter funnel and pitcher are blown glass, but the funnel is upheld by a bent wire frame, powder-coated in different colors. The round cork base is a nice addition. Rust labored over a cup of coffee for me, which I have to say, was not the best I've had. But, it was his first of the day, and of the conference, and I think just a little tweaking can improve the result of the well-considered design.
The whole collective of Quench represent an exciting time of possibility for Australian design. Earlier this week in the New York Times, Alice Rawsthorn wrote about Sydney's Henry Wilson, who started a studio there after returning from studying at RISD and Eindhoven. In the article, Rawsthorn points out, "Traditionally, Australian design has experienced the same efflux of talent as art, literature, architecture, dance and music as successions of talented young designers have moved to other countries."
Wilson's story, and designers like Quench, who support each other individually and work collectively where needed, may answer the question that Rawsthorn posed in her headline: "Turning Australia into a Hub for Designers?"