Ross Gardam catches up with CARLI PHILIPS to talk local craftsmanship, lockdown lulls and furniture that’s made to last the distance.

MERGING CRAFT WITH technology, the Melbourne-based multidisciplinary designer Ross Gardam is lauded for the pure forms of his light fixtures, furniture and objects. His studio comprises of nine designers, engineers and manufacturers, and is committed to producing its wares locally. Here, Gardam reflects on a challenging year.

What makes an object timeless?

“I like to use materials that have a longevity about them, whether that be stone, timber or glass. I’m attracted to the inherent beauty of materials and I think that goes a long way to making an enduring product. As a studio, we’re always disciplined with material use and we engineer things to last for as long as possible.”

What are Ross Gardam hallmarks?

“There’s an overarching aesthetic that runs through our designs that has formed naturally. I suppose it’s developed from my personal experiences and affinity for clean, simple forms — it’s a constant thread. I’m also intrigued by the emotional connections people have with objects and that drives the functionality of most things I create. When it comes to problem-solving, we’re meticulous and unpack all the information to find the best response.

What part of the design process do you enjoy most?

“Working with different manufacturers and makers means I travel around Melbourne quite a lot — I don’t spend days on end sitting in front of a computer. We have a workshop integrated into the studio where we produce all our lighting and there’s a 3D printer that allows us to investigate ideas quickly. The space allows us to tinker with furniture pieces as well. I enjoy most parts of the processes involved in bringing a product to market. The photography at the end is particularly satisfying — all the hard work is behind you and it’s just about how the product will be seen by people.” 

Where did you find inspiration during the lockdowns?

“As we’ve moved in and out of the studio over the past 18 months, it’s been difficult to stay focused and motivated. Not being able to travel has been especially challenging as I draw inspiration from people and places.”

Why do you make your products in Australia?

“Early on, I started designing pieces that had singular processes of manufacture sourced locally. Things developed from there and now I have strong relationships, which keep me close to the process. Being nearby also allows us to manage production to ensure each product meets our standards.”

One of your most recent collections, Breeze, is inspired by the Australian landscape. Can you tell us about it?

“Breeze is expressed with curved panels, planar forms and the play of light on surfaces. When you first view the product, it appears asymmetrical — it’s only when you pick it up there’s a realization that it is, in fact, symmetrical. This ambiguity of form is something I am attracted to with product design, as different silhouettes form new perspectives and allow products to take on fresh personalities. For the tabletops, we used Australian Emperador marble, sourced from a quarry in Queensland; the combination of brick red and white veining reminded me of aerial views of the Australian outback.”

What can we expect in 2022?

“We’ll be releasing a new edition of the Place collection, which is the most modular collection the studio has created so it will be interesting to see how people interact with the new pieces. We’re always working on a diverse range of products and new materials, which keeps everything fresh.”