Like a good garlic naan “very simple but packs some punch”, industrial design studio Dowel Jones are part of a small, but powerful group of Australian designers injecting promise into local furniture manufacturing.
Tucked away in Thomastown, an industrial suburb in Melbourne’s outskirts, furniture designers and Wall Street satirists, Dowel Jones are rapidly gaining recognition. Last year they were invited to take part in The National Gallery of Victoria’s famed Melbourne Now exhibition and recently completed commercial projects for Country Road, RMIT and Melbourne Central.
An extension of their award-winning collective LAB DE STU (co-founded with designer Andre Hnatöjko), we caught up with Dowel Jones and asked about their hometowns of Bendigo and Geelong. Then we grabbed some dim sims for the drive home.
Dowel Jones: I don’t know if we have a specific aesthetic or style, if anything it may just be that our design process leads us to outcomes that use similar processes.
We both do everything! We both have very different ideas on design, but I think this must be how our outcomes aren’t what we ever expect them to be.
Dowel Jones is the extension of LAB DE STU, we all met studying at RMIT; we were 18 and 19 years old with no real idea of where it would lead. We [Adam and Dale] both went on to study Industrial Design at RMIT, which is where we started collaborating on projects, and that’s how we ended up forming Dowel Jones.
We’re excited for the opportunity to work on custom projects for clients. We recently worked with RMIT [University] to deliver a new market set-up at Melbourne Central. We developed a range of tables, stools, and other objects to suit the space. We were able to manufacture everything in-house and employ current RMIT Industrial Design students to help with the design and manufacture.
We were shocked to hear we had been chosen to be a part of the biggest design show at the National Gallery of Victoria, we were only 22 and 23 years old at the time. We were approached by the curator of the design component of Melbourne Now, Simone LeAmon (who now is one of our good friends).
We believe Simone’s intentions were to represent younger designers like ourselves who work with local manufacturers and strict constraints to produce clever products that are proudly manufactured in Melbourne.
Our focus as a brand is to produce simple products stripped to their bare essentials, minimising materials and processes by working with local manufacturers to ensure quality.
Sustainability isn’t always in the forefront of our minds when developing new work, but it is ingrained in our design process to work within guidelines. Considerations to make a product more sustainable can just be good design decision and not directly related to sustainability in an obvious way.
D – I live in Coburg. I moved from Bendigo to Melbourne 5 years ago to study, and began living on Rathdowne Street in North Carlton. The longer I live in Melbourne, the further I move out and the bigger the houses get – which is important as I keep buying motorbikes.
A – I live between Geelong and Melbourne. Usually mid-week in Melbourne and weekends in Geelong.
[Adam on surfing] I’m not sure if it has a huge influence on my design. Although, Thimble was born out of spending time on piers, so at the very least you could say a life spent around the water helped develop my most successful product. I think surfing has shaped me as a person, it is something I do to relax.
D – Coffee by day, Gin by night – The Dispensary, Bendigo
A – Boom Gallery, Geelong
D – Op shops. Bendigo op-shops are still relatively untouched, and still manned by old ladies cats.
A – The Internet. I really have no idea, I buy all of my clothes from Country Road :S
D – Daylesford/Hepburn Springs. Drinking mineral water straight from its source in Hepburn Springs is like no other.
A -Somewhere on the east coast
I grew up taking all my family holidays on the east coast, every school holiday I ever had we seemed to be driving up there. I have friends in every little town.
The Bendigo Art Gallery has had some incredibly shows over the last few years and I’ve only started to really appreciate the gallery since leaving.
The VAC gallery (LaTrobe Uni’s Visual Art Centre) is directly across the road so I always end up there as well.
A – I spend most of my time on the coast, golf and surfing.
THOMASTOWN LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
Jorge’s Cafe. It looks like a factory but inside is a wonderland of food.
BEST ROAD TRIP
Over the past few years we’ve had to travel to Sydney for exhibitions, and we’ve always thought it’d be the best idea to leave at night time, meaning we arrive in Sydney at roughly 9am. One particular time coming back from Sydney at night time we’d had an extremely long day and early morning. We were only about an hour from Melbourne when we both started to get really sleepy but couldn’t pull over as we knew were so close. Our alternative was to put the air conditioning on max, roll down both windows but to remain warm we had a blanket on our laps even though our heads were out the window.
DREAM ROAD TRIP
A – Every Christmas I go on a road trip with my best friend Harry, nothing could be better. We wait until Boxing day morning to decide on where we’re going, pack our vans and then go.