There is a real passion for natural materials in our homes at the moment. I think we are all craving a connection with nature as a way to counteract our love affair with technology. Lots of people are creating beautiful homewares using a natural and organic approach, but none more than talented designer, Duncan Meerding.
I first came across Duncan, a young Australian Designer, early in 2013 with his beautiful and ingenious Cracked Log Lamp. I then met him at Decoration and Design and fell even more in love with his work. At DesignEx in 2014, he showed me his current range, which now includes a hanging log pendant lamp, which is just beautiful! These cracked log lamps have become so popular Duncan tells me they are now winging their way across the world. In particular people are fascinated by the original Cracked Log and Stump Lamps, which now takes pride of place in my own home. The way the light falls out of the cracks at night time is magical.
In April 2014 he launched a range of products at his first solo show since early 2010. The show entitled ‘From the Side’ was taken from the location, but also the influence light from the side can have on our mood when we walk into a room. It is far more subtle and even magical, compared to light which comes directly at you. Artificial lighting can be quite harsh, but the soft cracks of light seeping out of these lamps, is mesmerising.
As well as these two reasons, the exhibition name was connected to Duncan’s visual fields, which are concentrated around the side. This vision of light emanating from the peripheries, and the highly tactile nature of Duncan’s work, highlights the alternative sensory world in which he designs as he is legally blind. This part of the story is even more remarkable as he predominately carves his work using his tactile senses and limited vision. I love that the way the light falls from the Stump and Cracked Log Lamps is in part a reflection of seeing the world through Duncan’s eyes.
The exhibition launched the range of new designs in the Cracked Log Light Range, including the new larger “Stump” with two new variations in the range. The Stump W, which is ready to wire indoor or outside to 12volt power, and the Stump B, which is battery powered. Developing on the original Cracked Log Lamp, Duncan has almost doubled the size of the Stump designs (making them 400 mm high and 300 mm wide approximately) and made them possible to weight bear as a table or stool.
The development of these designs in the Cracked Log Light series showcases the continued and growing interest that there is in these unique objects. When you see them in the flesh they are even more beautiful. The designs are influenced by what is often associated with waste wood, and embraces the cracks, making them a feature and bringing that sense of nature. You really feel like you have picked up a log from the forest and placed it in your home. The warm yellow light emanating from the cracks highlights the alternative fiery fate much of the salvaged wood would have met were they not rescued by Duncan.
Duncan was recognised for his continued interest in sustainability in 2014, receiving the Green Award for Best Sustainable Design at ‘The Edge’ 2014. A fabulous achievement, the prototype of the Stump Lamp won the Award not just for its re-use of salvaged materials, but also the low energy consuming LED light source. This source adds to the designs over all aesthetic, pushing multiple shards of light from each LED through the different fissures in the Stump. Sustainable and beautiful.
“This design showcases how design and sustainability can add to each other. The more energy efficient light source used in this design results in adding not taking away from the overall design. The process of design with consideration for the environment and longevity in design, I believe should happen at the beginning of the design process not get tacked on at the end as an afterthought” Duncan explains.
Along with the Cracked Log and Stump ranges, Duncan has created a range of unique furniture and homewares, such as this Leaning Leaf Coffee Table. This is a flat pack piece with a twist. The word flat pack often makes you think of unsustainable furniture made out of chipboard, with a box- like pattern. This table by Duncan has a form far from being box- like, and is made from solid Tasmanian Eucalypt, chosen both for its durability and its sustainability credentials.
The three leaf shaped legs have a rounded triangle surface sitting on top of them. The way in which they sit give the illusion that the top is sitting on floating supports. The modern lines used by Duncan demonstrate his passion for the overall form of objects, rather than in complex detailing, allowing the design to speak for itself. The curves, inspired by natural forms, are used to relax the user through sight, but also encourage you to run your hands over the table.
Each table is approximately 87cm by 87 cm by 45 cm high.
Another fabulous design, the Spirals 180 Angled Up-Light, is made from Hoop Pine Plywood, chosen for its sustainability credentials as well as beauty. This up-light is suitable for many applications. Spirals 180 will light the area you require, but will also create that relaxed atmosphere with the pattern of warm, yellow light being pushed through the horizontal slots. These horizontal slots give the piece its name, through the spiral- like pattern that they form. The light emanating through the slots continues to highlight Duncan’s interest in the dispersion of light, and reflects the alternative sensory world in which he designs. Each lamp measures 180mm cubed and comes readily wired with an Australian standard plug.
Duncan is currently prototyping more in his range, including a fabulous Propeller Pendant Light made from Tasmanian Blackwood, powder coated with aluminium. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!