Australian industrial designer Tom Fereday may be relatively new to the global design scene, but he's got an impressive resume nonetheless. The Sydney native owns a studio, has created custom-made furniture for Louis Vuitton, is highly coveted for brand collaborations and is a regular exhibitor at Milan Design Week. Fereday's repertoire is based on honesty – an approach dedicated to sustainable, environmentally conscious materials and manufacturing processes that he sees as positive creative constraints.
Perspective caught up with him at the Hong Kong launch of his furniture line-up, The Crawford Collection, a collaboration initiated by Lane Crawford in partnership with upmarket Shanghai-based design studio Stellar Works.How did the Crawford Collection come about?
It all started with the Lane Crawford Creative Call Out 2018 programme. They were scouting around Australia looking for new talent for Asia. I was lucky enough to win, which meant I got to collaborate on a full collection. The Crawford Collection is made predominantly of FSC-certified timber and removable steel frames, and tries to reinterpret Asian elements with an international audience in mind.
This is the first time you've designed specifically for the Asian market. What was the most memorable part of the process?
I've sold products in Asia before, but it's always been just selling products. This was about trying to understand the market and what people want. What I got to see were the 'behind the scenes' of the workshop, the making of timber pieces – that was a real highlight for me.How do you approach your creative collaborations with different brands?
I love collaborating with people. When you work with other people, there's a tension that can either be terrible or really good. The ideal outcome is that you get a result that perhaps neither party could achieve by themselves.
What was the approach to the collection?
I think the integrity about the approach to work was immediate. I felt really confident to say that I work with Stellar Works. I try to work with makers and brands that are genuine: it doesn't matter what size they are, but they need to have integrity in their work.
Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?
The bed… I've never done a bed before. The idea was to do a petite collection that still felt luxurious and valuable to people. The collection is designed to talk the same language and work together. But yeah, maybe because I'm tired, I'm just thinking about the bed.What led you to industrial design?
I started with art school. I went to art college in London, the Wimbledon School of Art, to study sculpture and fine arts. I was really struggling to justify why I was making objects. It felt like I was just making this thing with no narrative. But as soon as I started to build in constraints and meaning, I began to feel like I had a control over what the form should be. That's how I moved into furniture.
I try to make products retain value for the long term, so that as an investment, it will always last. It's got to have longevity, aesthetics, but also be genuine in terms of how it's made and the materials used.
Which materials and colours do you like to work with?
I'm terrible with colour, as you can tell [points to his head-to-toe black outfit]. I use natural materials where possible, because they do all the work for you. Each table will be unique because of the timber grain and pattern. I love solid stones, timber, natural fabric, materials. Not everyone should like every colour. But having a feeling of calm in your home is really nice, so I tend to go more muted with the colour tones.Why is honest design so important to you?
This is a really resource-intensive industry. I also feel like I needed a guideline about how I work so that people can understand me. That's a principle I apply to everything, so there's nothing to hide. I hope the culture of buying furniture is changing and people now invest in products for the long term.
It seems you find more creative freedom in the presence of constraints.
I think it's a positive constraint. I try to make products retain value for the long term, so that as an investment, it will always last. It's got to have longevity, aesthetics, but also be genuine in terms of how it's made and the materials used.