An exploration of the collection and conversation with creative director Thomas Coward and some of the Australian designers involved in New Volumes.
New Volumes saw Artedomus engage Thomas Coward as creative director, who assembled a diverse range of eight Australian designers to design pieces crafted from solid blocks of Elba. An extremely versatile and sought-after marble for interior finishes, New Volumes pushed the boundaries of Elba as a material and emphasised the full potential of the stone.
For Thomas, the New Volumes collection presented an opportunity to work with a diversity of designers and stylists and to engage with a material in a manner not usually seen in Australia. “I chose a range of different designers to work with based on their aesthetic sensibilities and I wanted this whole exercise to push the idea of what an Australian designer could be and what an Australian company could be,” he reflects.
Dale Hardiman explains that his interest in working with Elba was “not to use the stone as a singular object but as to present others, and so because stone is a natural material that has been formed over millions of years I loved the idea of this life and death and the beauty of the natural environment,” he says.
This recognition of the power and significance of the material also resonated with Nick Rennie, who expresses his sense of being humbled by the ancient stone. He suggests that he felt a responsibility to create an object that others will recognise “is a worthwhile use of this stone, that hopefully, it has a longevity to it to do justice to the actual material.”
Meanwhile, for Emma Elizabeth, working with Elba to design her pieces for New Volumes saw her questioning the line between art and functional object. “I really try to hone in on where it would be, who would use it, how it would be used. Yes, it sits as art, but then it sits as design, so I guess the beautiful thing about this collection, it is about those blurred lines, where – does design meet art or does art meet design?” she says.
Ultimately, New Volumes is an exercise in collaboration, something that both Thomas Coward and Ross Gardam expressed was a particularly rewarding aspect of the project. “The big thing I took out of it was the power of collaboration, it was really interesting,” Ross says. While he says their studio can feel like a “bubble”, “it was really nice to see the way this project worked when Thomas was working with the group of designers, and then stylists, photographers, graphic design – all of these people pulled together to produce this project and obviously each one of these creatives inspiring the next.”
As Thomas usually works on his own, “it was fascinating for me to see how other designers work.” He says that “helping them realise their vision, we ended up with a range of quite unique pieces, utilising a very strong material.” The result of this collaboration is a diverse collection, with each piece an individual embodiment of the power of design expressed in a singular material.
The installation celebrates the journey of Elba from the ground to the house, juxtaposing the refined beauty of the pieces in the New Volumes ℅ Artedomus collection with raw blocks and chips of Elba, as it might appear when being dug from the earth in the Greek quarry.“
The installation was a way to really celebrate the history of marble production. I think the purpose was for people to appreciate the huge amount of effort that goes into getting materials into their houses,” says Thomas Coward.
“Creating a space where these objects come almost out of the earth, and it brings it back to their origin, these beautiful raw materials and having that connection because I think that sometimes people see the finished product and they haven’t realised what’s gone in to that journey and the actual making of the objects, so that was really important to us,” Fiona Lynch reflects.
Words: Rose Onans
This article originally featured on The Local Project.