Dowel Jones Interview | Yellowtrace

 

Established in 2013 by Dale Hardiman and Adam Lynch, Dowel Jones is a young Australian design brand that produces furniture, lighting and accessories. The duo are committed to the creation of objects that are simplified to their bare essentials, without ever compromising on the aesthetics. Dale is currently based in an old mechanics garage in Preston, Melbourne, while Adam is based in the workshop in Geelong where all of their timber products are made. Together they champion minimal use of materials and processes, working with manufacturers in the development of everyday materials and objects.

Both Dale and Adam regularly exhibit in Australia and internationally, and both have won numerous design awards. It has to be said that these guys really ‘get it’ when it comes to communicating Dowel Jones as an overall brand and experience. They understand the power of ‘brand personality’, and the importance of investing in sharp art direction and slick photography that reinforces their brand, at the same time elevating their product.

They set out to produce simple projects that are given personality and humour through not only the images they produce, but also the titles of their works. “So much of an objects personality can be lost in it’s name and description. We notice that designers tend to spend an enormous amount of time on their work and then end up spending little time on communicating the personality of the work.”

Jackpot!

Read on for many more pearls of wisdom by these clever blokes destined for great things.

 

After a successful Melbourne show, Dowel Jones have brought their Clubhouse presentation to Sydney from 1-12 August, in partnership with Catapult Design. More information .

 

See more of Dowel Jones on Yellowtrace.

 

Bradley Hooper Editorial by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Bradley Hooper Side Table.

Bradley Hooper Editorial by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Bradley Hooper Stool. Photography by .

Clubhouse Editorial by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Sir Mark Wall Burly Double from Clubhouse Editorial.

Clubhouse Editorial by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Simon Says Low Stool from Clubhouse Editorial. Photography by .

Dowel Jones Portrait | Yellowtrace
Left: Dale Hardiman. Right: Adam Lynch. Photo by Cricket Studio.

 

+ Hello Dale & Adam, welcome to Yellowtrace! Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourselves? When did you first decide you wanted to become designers, and at which point did you become interested in product design? And how did you two meet?

We are Dowel Jones, a young Australian design brand producing furniture, lighting, accessories while also working on installation and custom projects.

Adam and I (Dale) met in 2010 when we both started started studying furniture design at together (Adam was 18 and I was 20). Adam travelled from Geelong, and I had just moved from Bendigo to study. Before we began Dowel Jones, we collaborated with another designer Andre Hnatojko (now LAAL) creating LAB DE STU in 2011 as a way for us to gain exposure collectively. After completing a 2 year course in furniture design at RMIT, we both went on to complete our honours in Industrial Design also at RMIT. Our first collaborative project was the Mr. Dowel Jones lamps which we designed in our 3rd year of university, which was the founding product for Dowel Jones.

We wouldn’t really say we were both ever particularly interested in being designers when we first began Furniture Design at RMIT. Adam’s interest lay with the making side of design, and my own were more in line with sculpture rather then functional objects. We both applied for other courses before being accepted into furniture design! If either of us had studied another course, we most likely wouldn’t have met.

 

King Dome Editorial by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace

King Dome Editorial by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
King Dome Pendant Lights. Photography by Cricket Studio.

Sir Burly Family by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Sir Burly Low Stool and Sir Burly High Stool.

Sir Burly Family by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Sir Burly Low Stool. Photography by Cricket Studio.

 

+ How do you characterise your design sensibility and your aesthetic? Is there something that’s fundamental to your practice – your philosophy and your process?

We like to think our style and aesthetic is forever evolving as we develop further as a brand – the more we also communicate our product through photography (along with also working for others on styling and art direction) the more we understand how to communicate Dowel Jones as an overall brand and experience. It’s been very interesting for us over the past 4 years to develop Dowel Jones into having it’s own personality, one that is not either of our own directly but a meld of both. A surprising amount of time people assume Dowel Jones to be a person (it doesn’t help my name is Dale, so I often am assumed to be the Dowel in the Dowel Jones).

When we formed Dowel Jones we wrote our original bio of explaining that we were interested in simplifying objects to their bare essentials without compromising on aesthetic values, while also minimising materials and processes. We’ve been abiding to this in some way or another with each project and it would be one of our fundamental principles.

We set out originally to produce simple projects that were given personality and humour through not only the titles of the works but also the images we produced for them. So much of an objects personality can be lost in it’s name and description. We notice that designers tend to spend an enormous amount of time on their work and then end up spending little time on communicating the personality of the work.

 

Hurdle Family 2017 by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Full Hurdle High Chair (2017).

Hurdle Family 2017 by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Half Hurdle High Chair & Half Hurdle Chair (2017). Photography by Cricket Studio.

Hurdle Family 2014 by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Half Hurdle Chair (2014).

Hurdle Family 2014 by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Hurdle Tray Side Table. Photography by Cricket Studio.

 

+ How do you go about initiating projects – do you do this together or separately? You must find that your amazing partnership enriches your output, but is there ever a time when you drive each other crazy, or when designing or working together can be challenging?

We have a fairly fluid process within the studio. Some projects will be directed by one of us, others we work collaboratively on, and others again we’ll have one of our staff lead.

Trust is the key to a successful business relationship. There are always challenging times within business relationships, but after knowing someone professionally for 7 years (as students, then as business partners) it has become quite easy to understand each others personality and motives. As we are spread between Preston (Melbourne) where I spend my time, and Adam in Geelong in the workshop where all of our timber products are produced, clear communication becomes incredibly important.

 

Simon Says Family Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Simon Says Family.

Simon Says Low Stools by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Simon Says Low stools. Photography by Cricket Studio.

Dowel Jones with LOCAL DESIGN for Kvadrat & Maharam | Yellowtrace

Dowel Jones with LOCAL DESIGN for Kvadrat & Maharam | Yellowtrace
Dowel Jones with LOCAL DESIGN for Kvadrat and Maharam. Photography by Cricket Studio.

 

+ What do you feel is the most challenging part of being a designer today? And if you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

We feel as we though we’re a part of an incredibly rich time in Australian design. The most challenging part of being a designer today is justifying the production of new work with the environmental knowledge we have today. Material choices and finishes, stack ability for freight, overall longevity.

If we could change on thing about the industry, it would be other companies producing replicas of others work. We’ve had a quite a few of our pieces replicated by other companies in the past 4 years (some based in Melbourne, not far from our studio). I’m not sure if these companies (and the designers that work on them) are aware that there is not only a monetary loss involved, but there is also an emotional aspect when you’ve spent a considerable amount of time on a project, and to see it re-appear by another company (especially when it’s been altered in a way that we would never agree to).

 

Hooked Up by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Hooked Up Leather Tie designed by Isaac Francis in collaboration with Dowel Jones.

Hooked Up by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Hooked Up Leather Tie designed by Isaac Francis in collaboration with Dowel Jones.

Hooked Up by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Hooked Up Leather Tie designed by Isaac Francis in collaboration with Dowel Jones. Photography by . Styling by .

 

+ Who or what are some of your influences? What other designers, peers and creatives in general do you admire?

Adam’s influences come directly from the making of objects, with companies like Danish joinery workshop . Designers I admire are generally outside commercial production – , , , and .

+ What advice would you give to emerging designers who want to follow your path? What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting your practice?

Involve yourself in the broader design community. We’ve created some of our best friendships through meeting other designers who are working in a similar field.

Be sure to reach out where possible. In our first years of studying we were quite active in getting in with other designers to meet them as we were interested in their work and interested to know how they work.

Collaborate where possible. We are limited by our own experiences and only through talking with others can we really create a truly thriving industry. Also don’t feel like you need to be limited by the current conventions of practice. Some of the best ideas can come by thinking alternatively.

 

Thimble Family by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
1/5 Thimble Bar Stool.

Thimble Family by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Thimble Low Stool and 1/5 Thimble Bar Stool. Images by Tom Hancocks.

Hurdle Family Launch with Grand Rapids Chair Company by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Hurdle Low Stool, part of the Hurdle Family Launch with Grand Rapids Chair Company.

Hurdle Family Launch with Grand Rapids Chair Company by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Half Hurdle Chair, part of the Hurdle Family Launch with Grand Rapids Chair Company.

Hurdle Family Launch with Grand Rapids Chair Company by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Hurdle High Stool, part of the Hurdle Family Launch with Grand Rapids Chair Company. Photography by Cricket Studio.

 

+ What’s next – can you share wit us your vision, some of your goals and some of your current projects?

After operating within Australia for the past 4 years, we’re excited to have launched a partnership with in Chicago to make the Hurdle Family available in North America and launching at NeoCon earlier this year, with the product still manufactured in Australia.

We plan to continue operating in a similar way as we have for the past 4 years, but we’ve always been interested in exploring how we can communicate our product further digitally without the need to see the item in real life. We began doing this with our collaboration with for the release of the Thimble Family, using completely computer generated images. Our aim has always been to create accessible furniture pieces, so we’ve been planning to open a show room/ retail space for some time.

Our current projects include a range of wallpapers for a Sydney brand, custom pieces for a Sydney glasses company for stores worldwide, and children’s furniture with a New Zealand company.

At the time of this interview we’re planning Clubhouse Sydney from 1-12 August. After a successful Melbourne show, we’ve brought our entire Clubhouse presentation to Sydney in partnership with .

 

Clubhouse Exhibition in Melbourne by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace

Clubhouse Exhibition in Melbourne by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace

Clubhouse Exhibition in Melbourne by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace

Clubhouse Exhibition in Melbourne by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Clubhouse Exhibition in Melbourne. Photography by .

 

LET’S GET REAL!

+ What’s the best mistake you have ever made?

Moving into the mezzanine of a factory in Thomastown (industrial area north of Melbourne) as our first studio, and building the entire space from nothing. As we were in a rubber factory there was a constant smell of melting rubber, and the only time we had space to work on projects of size was when the factory was empty from 10pm-5am (we used to work very late hours when we first started Dowel Jones).

+ Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The person you’re talking to is always more interesting then you are, as you already know everything you know.

+ Your most treasured belonging?

Not so much belongings, but my (Dale’s) cat March, and Adam’s would be his poodle Max.

+ What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

When Adam was 17, he had already placed second twice in the Australian surfing titles, and has been state champion for several years.

We also teach a 3rd year studio in Industrial Design at RMIT called H.T.S.A.F.A.L.B.W.I.U. (How To Start A Furniture And Lighting Business While In University).

+ It’s not very cool but I really like…

1990’s Australian milk bars and their interiors.

 

Clubhouse Exhibition in Melbourne by Dowel Jones | Yellowtrace
Dale and Adam at their Clubhouse Exhibition in Melbourne. Photography by Kristoffer Paulsen.

 


[Images courtesy of . Photography credits as noted.]

 

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About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

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