THE TABLE HAS TURNED

by Sid Feddema

A conversation with the outside-the-box furniture designer Elliot Bastianon 

“I like the mundane” designer Elliot Bastianon tells me of his artistic tastes.  Ironic, because Bastianon isn’t making boring furniture, he’s making furniture that encourages you to twist your head and rethink everyday materials that you’ve probably taken for granted. The studio director/furniture designer has been constructing pieces out of obscure materials like a mixture of Echopaneling and various timbers: “I like taking these things that people are subconsciously familiar with from their everyday lives, and sort of hijacking it and taking it to another place,” Bastianon tells me over a Skype.   

The designer, based out of Australia’s capital, Canberra, grew up tinkering with a hodge podge of materials from his dad’s garage.  It’s where he got his knack for putting uncommon components together in harmony:  “Taking an inferior material and elevating it to a different level is what I like.”  It’s these atypical invents that lead him to finalist positions in both the Australasian Student Design Awards (2011) and Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) the very next year.  More recently, Bastianon has received two government grants to produce lines of his own work. The Echopaneling collection being the latest.    

Bastianon claims that drawing and sketching are not his forte, preferring a more hands on approach in the early stages of his creative process. “I like model making and folding paper, I will often just be sitting and folding paper with no real purpose in mind until I come upon a shape that I like. Then I will see how I can apply that to furniture context. With the Echopaneling I was really into creating large folds with generous proportions.”  The influence of the folds of paper can be visibly seen in his finished products and adds a sense of organic allure.

When you’re giving all your time to your art, it’s best to bring your friends around. So Bastianon used the assistance of government funding to found Six Wiluna in 2014, a shared workshop space that is equipped with tools and machinery not easily accessible for emerging designers, “I just felt like in this city there was a real need for that sort of thing. There is a big art scene but there is not that many places that provide both the machinery and space.”  Other than Bastianon, there are five other residents of Six Wiluna, all with shared origins as graduates from the furniture department at the Australian National University.  On founding the space, Bastianon explains how it all happened suddenly, “I was only back in Australia for about two weeks, I was still looking for a share house and job but this commercial warehouse became available in this industrial area, I just signed the lease.  It was pretty stupid and risky at the time all things considering. I just had this gut feeling that it would all work out in the end.”

Bastianon is now busy focusing on an upcoming solo show which will be in Sydney and later, his part in the Milan Furniture Fair. In Milan, Bastianon will showcase some of his newer experimental work, which he’s tipped us off will include non-functional furniture grown out of blue crystal. A step away from the mundane indeed. We wager our crystal ball that these designs will be worth looking out for.

Written by Britton Litow

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