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6th March 2017

Hurdling towards Milan: Dale Hardiman introduces Dowel Jones’ 2017 Salone collection

This April, in a medieval church in Milan, surrounded by 8,000 bricks and the scents of Aesop, Dowel Jones will present their newly expanded showpiece collection to an international audience of design aficionados. This is Hurdle, a quirky and versatile family of chairs, stools and a bench – all of which have their origins in one of the Australian studio’s very first designs.

Alongside the now-five-strong Hurdle family (two stools, two chairs and a bench), they’ll be introducing the Milan crowd to Thimble (the indoor/outdoor stackable stool last seen here in Tom Hancocks’ fantasy images), Sir Burly (Dowel Jones’ signature stool made from American oak and almost comically chunky tubes of powder-coated steel), and its new, extra-tall sibling, Sir Burly High.
Half Hurdle Bench and Sir Burly by Dowel Jones. Photography by Cricket Studio.
Dowel Jones’ founders, Adam Lynch and Dale Hardiman, have been invited by the Australian Design collective Local Design to join a contingent of 11 Australian designers chosen to appear at Local Milan – an exhibition that, like Dowel Jones, marks its second Salone in 2017.  Representing the state of contemporary Australian design is quite a responsibility  – especially for a studio barely celebrating its fourth birthday. Dowel Jones, however, are quietly, justifiably, confident.

Half Hurdle Chair by Dowel Jones. Photography by Cricket Studio.
Half High Hurdle and Half Hurdle Chairs by Dowel Jones. Photography by Cricket Studio.
Here, Dale explains what ties the Hurdle collection together, why Dowel Jones have chosen to show it, and what taking part in an Australian design showcase means to them…

‘Each year we’ve presented new work in Milan and it’s been quite sporadic in style and concept. This year we’ve decided to present a consolidated collection that represents our principles more effectively, as well as our humour. The Hurdle collection is our largest and most popular collection of pieces – Dowel Jones’ first commercial range of furniture, entirely manufactured in Australia. Although Hurdle pieces can be found in places as widespread as Switzerland, Canada, Singapore and America, this will be our first exhibition showcasing the entirety of the collection and introducing new pieces. The very first Hurdle piece we designed was a trestle for a university project that was very similar to the athletic hurdle. Each piece developed from that first trestle has included its singular side-profile bend, developed alongside Melbourne manufacturers. The Hurdle frames are made up of two simple tube components, with the chair’s tube components are almost disconnected from each other, forming the backrest and legs.

Although Dowel Jones works globally, we are always in some way representing the capabilities of not only Australian design but also Australian manufacturing. Australia at times can feel quite separate from the design community abroad because of how far away we really are, so we feel we should represent Australian design as a whole, alongside own practice. The intention of Local Milan is to accurately represent Australian design internationally, so we’re looking to coordinate and create a group impact. In 2013, we presented work at the London Design Festival and were told by two Italian designers that they were unaware there were any Australian designers – we’re hoping that Australians collectively presenting work in Milan will help change this perception!’

Half Hurdle Chair and Sir Burly High by Dowel Jones. Photography by Cricket Studio.
Dale Hardiman and Adam Lynch of Dowel Jones. Photography by Cricket Studio.

Local Milan is showing at the Oratorio della Passione, Basilica di SantAmbrogio on 4–9 April 2017.


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