Australia’s Chris Hardy is a rising name in his local community. But with his recent debut in Milan’s Ventura Lambrate, and his growing work interests in Asia, the industrial designer is also steadily becoming a global name to watch.
28 October, 2013
While the eponymous studio Chris Hardy runs was only formally established three years ago, the industrial designer is already quickly gaining recognition both nationally and internationally in competitions such as Launch Pad in Australia and, more recently, in Milan at Ventura Lambrate.
Hardy describes his work – which is characterised by clean lines and strong geometry – as “minimal”. Here, he tells us more about his influences, and his plans to take his products to Asia.
Pleat stool, shown recently in Milan’s Ventura Lambrate
I read that you wanted to study architecture in grade 6. How did you then end up with a career in industrial design?
I used to draw and make all sorts of things all the time as a child; I suppose that I thought that architecture would be a good fit as a career. As I became older and started to understand myself a little more, I started to realise that the scale of industrial design seemed to be a better fit for me. I loved the idea of being close to the creative process all the way through the development of a concept, from generating and detailing an idea to prototyping, testing and refining it.
Paper pendant, shown recently in Milan’s Ventura Lambrate
What influences you as a designer and how do these influences then translate into your work?
I have been/am heavily influenced by various attitudes and proponents of modernism. Designers and architects such as Poul Kjaerholm, Arne Jacobsen and later John Pawson, Barber Osgerby, the Bouroullec brothers, Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa are all people whose work I greatly admire.
The work of these designers can be characterised in terms of their careful detailing and elegant use of materials to create beautiful, timeless products. When developing work, I carefully consider the context of the product as well as the most appropriate materials and processes for the application based on their aesthetic and cost attributes. I work at identifying ways of harnessing these materials and processes to create visually balanced and interestingly detailed products appropriate for the chosen application that people will enjoy both functionally as well as aesthetically.
Paper pendant, shown recently in Milan’s Ventura Lambrate
Which do you see as your most pivotal moments as a designer?
I see my design career as a long journey from when I was a child. Having said this, the main pivotal moment was when, after studying interior design, I finally decided to study industrial design, the first week of which made me realise that I had found my niche (an incredibly exciting feeling).
Triple stool, shown at Sydney Indesign 2013
You exhibited in Milan’s Salone for the first time this year at Ventura Lambrate. Can you describe that experience?
It was a valuable experience both from a design perspective as well as a business one. The scale of the Milan Furniture Fair and its various satellite exhibitions is like nothing I’d experienced before. The excitement of visiting the various design precincts around Milan and exploring the halls of the Fair itself at Rho was tangible, every corner offering more inspiration.
Left – right: Langdon armchair and Langdon 450 stool, shown at Sydney Indesign 2013
You were also involved in Sydney Indesign this year. What was that experience like?
This was equally as valuable an experience from an Australian perspective. I used this opportunity to launch and gain feedback on two new products that I have been working on – Langdon armchair and Sixties pendant light.
Sixties pendant, shown at Sydney Indesign 2013
You have strong connections with the Australian design community and work closely with local manufacturers. Can you describe the strengths of Australian manufacturing?
The main strength of Australian designers utilising Australian manufacturing is concerned with access – the ability to easily visit a facility and discuss a project. I have found through extended experience that free flowing dialogue is key to successfully developing new work.
Would you ever consider working in partnership with manufacturers in Asia?
I already do in a small way. I am also in the process of establishing partnerships with Asian manufacturers for some of the new work that I am currently developing.
The prospect of exploring Asian cultures to see how Australian design can be incorporated into local specification is exciting for me. I’m looking forward to developing products in terms of a new palette of inspiration found within these cultures.
Which markets in Asia in particular would you be most interested in entering into, and why?
I’d be keen to enter the Hong Kong and Singapore markets. I’m eager to grow my company internationally and breaking into these two powerful markets makes sense from a geographical and financial perspective.
Chris Hardy’s furniture products are distributed in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane through Café Culture. His furniture and lighting products are also available through retail stores such as Workshopped in Sydney.
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