Credit: Courtesy of Dowel Jones

There is a sense of play at work in almost everything Dowel Jones create. Humour in particular is an integral component of their readily recognisable work across furniture, lighting and accessories, evinced in everything from the names that they give their products (Bradley Hooper and Tim Ber) to they way in which they talk about the finished item itself.

When asked how they’d describe the work they exhibited at Salone del Mobile in Milan as part of the Local Milan showcase of Australian designers, one half of the duo Dale Hardiman (pictured above left) responded that they’d created, “A chair that looks like it’s made for a tennis court umpire, and stools that are made of bold, thick tube that look like animated characters.”

Below, Hardiman tells GRAZIA about the experience of courting the design world at its largest fair, and why doing so turned out to be a match made in heaven.

The work
“The work we presented at Local Milan this year were new additions to our current ranges. As the largest presentation we’ve made at the Milan Furniture Fair, we decided on work we’ve been producing for mainly the Australian market for the past two years as a way of introducing our brand to a larger audience. We made certain to include our most popular pieces, rather than experimenting with entirely new collections. We are more broadly recognisable by the imagery we produce for each collection, so we produced printed collateral for each piece showing the works personality.

“We believe the work was received well! Having a church as a backdrop to contemporary pieces was most certainly new for us. We developed our Hurdle High Chair (pictured below) with reference to a tennis umpires chair, so we were very happy for that to be easily recognisable by the public.”

The show
“We’ve presented work in Milan previous years, in various parts of the city. Presenting work in a stand-alone space this year (not apart of larger event spaces) was incredibly exciting, as those visiting were there just for the Local Milan show. Only visiting the fair for the past few years, the difference felt was the increase of larger brands incorporations. Last year saw companies such as Nike presenting pieces by well represented designers, and this year LG working with Tokujin Yoshioka. These large brands may have had presences previously, but they feel ever more present in the past few years.

Credit: Courtesy of Dowel Jones

The discoveries
Sabine Marcelis and Carl Kleiner at Bloc Studios was a major highlight. For such a small presentation it had such an incredible impact. After following Carl Kleiner’s work for some years it was great to see his sensibilities manifested into a designed product. Our favourite non-design related discovery was actually the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio building Local Milan was situated in. It’s rare you have the ability to spend a considerable amount of time in something of that age, especially while living in Australia.

The takeaway
“I don’t think we would associate the general form or aesthetic [of our design] to being particularly Australian – we are often assumed to be an American brand. The broad range of work presented at Local Milan by 11 Australian designers showcased an incredible diversity of Australian design practise. In a global design industry where influences are broad and the ability to show work in countries across the world quite easily, we consider our product to be of Australian style due to the production taking place within Australia.

“Since Local Design and Emma Elizabeth’s curation of Australian designers in Milan, the increased representation has most certainly shaped how we would plan to present work at the Milan Furniture Fair. In previous years there has been very little opportunity to show work with other Australian designers in a suitable platform. After only two years, the Local Milan exhibition has proved incredibly successful and we look forward to seeing future years.”

Tile and cover image: Courtesy of Dowel Jones