Leading a studio of designers, engineers and makers in Melbourne, Ross Gardam is the author of rigorously considered objects that bring value to people in a noise-filled world.
28 April, 2020
With experience comes deep insight – and our four INDE.Awards Luminaries of 2020 have it in spades. Hailing from Indonesia, Hong Kong and Australia, their stories of practice through the years reveal not only their own drivers but also facets of context. Through their stories, we find windows to the conditions in which they practice – how things are, and how they hope things will be in future.
Each story is unique as written by the architects and designers in their own words. It is an honour to share their journeys with you in a series of articles.
Here, Ross Gardam tells us about the driving forces behind his Melbourne studio, where products of rigour and refinement are developed in a way that will elicit an emotional response and bring value to people.
The design of refined products that are of value to people is always my overarching intent.
There is a high level of rigour involved in my studio’s processes to achieve the degree of refinement sought. These processes typically incorporate a number of non-emotional considerations to ensure each product has value; for example analysing the intent of use, manufacturing processes, disciplined material use, and ergonomics. The pursuit of the new is something we constantly dance with.
What interests me more and more are the non-tangibles that sit within the design process. Although often more subtle and nuanced, these opportunities are the driving force behind my product development. The space that sits between the object and user is always a point of inspiration. Tuning these small interactions – be that through touch, movement or light – to elicit an emotional response is the basis of my practice.
On a personal level the development of my studio has been an important milestone. Starting the business as a sole-trader 13 years ago and developing it into a studio of eight designers, engineers and makers has been a challenging but enjoyable journey.
I typically exhibit work locally and internationally annually. One of my first exhibitions in 2008 was with [Indesign Media’s] Launch Pad program. We started exhibiting in Milan, first in 2016, and from 2017 have focused on the US market. The growth of the international side of the business is also something that has been a key milestone.
The interest and level of engagement with our brand internationally has been humbling. I think some of this success is a reflection of the close connection of markets globally at present, but I also believe that good design is good design anywhere, and that good design is truly international, and cross cultural.
Design in itself, and particularly Australian design, has become increasingly valued. I have been intrigued by the manufacturing processes available around me and therefore the business has developed with a made-in-Melbourne approach.
The Ross Gardam studio, with the support of the architecture and design community, has been a leader in manufacturing locally for over a decade. We will continue on this path.
Bringing our own unique contemporary Australian design to an international market has been a big part of our business over the past five years. Working in the US and Europe while staying consistent with our identity and messaging has been important to our success.
There is so much noise in our world; perhaps slowing down and re-engaging with simple human rituals can be seen as progressive.
Designers in our region are agile, perhaps through necessity. I am always inspired by the designers and architects around me. The future holds a number of new challenges we are yet to fully interpret. I am confident we will rise to the challenge. We will see people being more disciplined and focused on how we use resources and our attitude to consumption will shift. Good design has a big part to play in this.
Top image: Ross Gardam photographed by Haydn Cattach.
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