- NV What do you think about Elba as a material for product design?
- TC Its incredibly durable lending itself to product design very well. We know through years of supply that it can withstand a lot of use.
- NV What was your reaction when seeing it for the first time?
- TC I was taken by the markings present in each slab. Such unique spots and grains, almost animalistic.
- NV Had you ever worked with anything similar?
- TC I have worked with stone for about 20 years. I’ve used Elba before it to create basins and mosaics, so I was familiar with its properties and knew it is unique in its strength and durability. So for New Volumes, I was interested in pushing my limits and going further than what we have used it for in the past.
- NV What are you hoping to achieve with this design?
- TC With the Hurlysi side tables I wanted to make a form that celebrated Elba’s ability, as its unique strength and density allows the design to cantilever. This meant I could create a table carved from a single piece that was strong enough to sustain its own weight and the things it would support.
With the Lydn tray I wanted to capture a moment in time through the stylised form of an exaggerated ripple. Combined with a polished surface that reflects light and shows movement, the work creates a sense of movement in an otherwise static material. There lies a reference to Elba’s formation, which is a remarkable odyssey of natural materials.
Collection 02 — Terracotta
I’m used to working with stone and solid surface so I was prepared to have some constraints on what terracotta can do. Knowing what rules to push and what to accept was the key with this project. We challenged the factory with certain things, but we respected most and were humbled by their experience and years of history.
I’d never designed with terracotta before, so this was a first. The process is relatively simple and has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. The manufacturer, who produced these items, have been making objects in this way since the 18th century. The history in the material and process is remarkable.
The most memorable part of this experience was working with the other designers. Each worked so differently and it was a privilege to create their products.
My hope for this collection is that people are able to connect with the purity and strength of the material. Terracotta is truly remarkable; it rises from the ground and leaves no trace.
Melbourne-based Cornish native Thomas Coward is the Creative Director of New Volumes. Established in 2008, his studio works across a range of disciplines, exploring both commercial and personal objectives. From Royal Commissions to exclusive private residences in the USA, Canada, the Middle East and extensively throughout Europe, Coward has become recognised for his considered aesthetic and approach. His work is informed by the premise that the design process is not solely solving physical problems, it is also about exploring the ongoing relationships between products, people and spaces. This can create unique outcomes with often hidden qualities that reveal themselves over time.