This episode is a personal favourite because Duncan and I have a bit of a connection after a blog post about his Cracked Log and Stump Lamps that I shared went a bit viral on Pinterest! His work is absolutely beautiful and you will love his story about how he became a maker and how he does this despite being legally blind.
Duncan is a furniture and lighting designer based in Hobart, Tasmania. Working with a range of materials, his designs draw heavily from the vast natural beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness. With a focus on form and texture, much of his work features organic curving lines inspired by the local landscape. Many of the designs highlight the highly tactile nature of the materials used, embracing their natural characteristics, such as the bark that still clings to the objects in the Cracked Log series.
The relationship between light and shadow and light dispersion are also integral to Duncan’s design process. Being legally blind with less than 5% of his sight remaining, the vision of light emanating from the peripheries of the different objects, reflect the alternative sensory world within which he designs.
Rather than focus on quick-moving trends, each design is created with a focus on longevity. By combining traditional hand-made techniques, modern manufacturing technologies and small-scale production, each object is built to last.
Sustainability and care for the environment are present in every step of the design/making process at Duncan Meerding Design. The majority of timber used is sourced either from what was ‘waste’ materials or else from faster-growing, robust timber varieties. As the practice has grown, care has been taken to insure that they stay true to the core principles of environmental sustainability, ethical practice and the relationship between the maker, the object and the customer.
Sit back and enjoy – and have a look at the video as well for more and to see who Duncan actually is, which helps when listening 🙂
Points you will want to remember from the show
- Design is about figuring out things and problem solving
- Duncan creates a lot from found materials such as his Cracked Log Light where he played with what was possible
- The Cracked Log Lights and pendants are dry indoor use only, the pendants need to be installed by an electrician
- The Stump original range is indoor, but can also be wired by an electrician for outdoor use
- Duncan has just developed a battery operation Stump lamp which is rechargeable and can be used outdoors for your paths or patios – can also be hard wired outdoors
- Both Stumps are stool size so can be used for additional seating, as well as lighting
- Currently developing some other options for these ranges which are coming soon so stay tuned
- The Propeller Light came about after Duncan did an internship with David Trubridge where he learned you can run a design business in your own country and not outsource overseas
- He also learned about how to strive to be as sustainable as possible in your design business
- While there, Duncan developed the Propeller Lights. He was not initially happy with its resolution and spent more time refining this to get to the finished product – it actually took a few years to get to that point
- It is important to realise how much time and thought goes into making a quality designed piece – the money you pay when purchasing something made by a local maker rather than a cheap chain store is in relation to the time, quality and materials used
- When you buy something there is a consequence to buying things that are made in conditions that are not desirable
- David Trubridge recently had a win in a case against the replica furniture and lighting market – companies were ripping off David’s designs which were being made in China in very poor conditions – there was only about $100 price difference! It is about making a moral choice about what you want to support
- We have a lot of power to make good decisions in your spending choices
- If you really want a quality piece you can save up for it and wait, you can buy second hand and you can look for locally made things which are often not that much more in price when you consider the conditions in which they are made
- Designing to last only 10 years to fit a trend is not good design – we need to design for things to last 100 years – this is sustainability at work. We are all influenced by trends but design should be about creating things that will last in terms of its aesthetic as well as sustainability
- AMP grants are worth a look for your projects – open to all sorts of things each year
The articles we refer to about David Trubridge