Sydney-based designer Bianca Isgro has joined the shortlist for the Mercedes-Benz Design Award with her design for turning the humble dining chair into a sleek spectacle.
The Mercedes-Benz Design Award called for an innovative Australian design that adds value to the kitchen or dining experience, with the winning design to be produced and taken to retail within the product range of progressive Australian furniture maker Jardan.
Named Outlier, Isgro's three-legged chair design was one of three selected from over 120 entries by the judging panel of representatives from Jardan, Broadsheet and Mercedes-Benz. Isgro’s design turns an everyday object into the realm of beautiful, with its refined structure crafted from American Oak. The option of a stitched leather or brass bolster attached to the arced frame adds an elegant but functional element.
According to Jardan owner Nick Garnham and head designer Tom Shaw, it was Isgro's fundamental attention to detail that appealed.
“It’s really pure, but sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to design,” says Shaw. “The Outlier is nice with the little stiches and the details, it really references a lot of things we do at Jardan. It would really fit in with our range.”
We spoke to Isgro about her shortlisted entry.
Broadsheet: Tell us about yourself.
Bianca Isgro: I live and grew up in Sydney and studied a Bachelor of Design in Interior Design at UTS. After graduating I went traveling for a year and when I came back I was approached by an architect who asked me to work for him. I became a founding member of architecture and interiors company Alexander and Co., and I’ve just recently left there to focus on furniture design and to pursue my own business in that world.
BS: Were you a fan of Jardan’s work previously?
BI: Absolutely. It’s funny: I lived in 17 different houses and apartments when I was young, and after I entered the competition I found out our family couch was from Jardan. So even though I didn’t realise it at the time, it’s always been a part of home for me.
BS: Have you always wanted to work in design?
BI: I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer and was always more creatively skewed. I’ve always created and loved using my hands to make things. In school I excelled in design technology and business studies and I realised doing design combined both these things.
BS: Your chair design is quite unique – what inspired it?
BI: I was inspired by a lot of the amazing designers and architects I’ve come across during my time working in the industry. I wanted to design something really simple and beautiful that could stand on its own. I wanted it to be functional, but also special with its attention to detail. I thought it would be lovely to create something where the beauty was in the detail, in the junctions and stitching and the way it all connected.
BS: What would it mean for you to win this award?
BI: It would be an incredible opportunity to propel me into the next faze of my design life. I’ve loved doing interior design, but this would really push me to focus on creating furniture, which is ultimately what I want to do. This award is really nurturing new talent, which is great because it’s important to understand how the next generation sees the world.
BS: What would be next for you if you won the competition?
BI: I’d love to get into furniture design, manufacturing and understanding the whole process. I’d love to even start making furniture myself, just to get back into using my hands. As an interior designer you can get really stuck in the world of paperwork, so I’d love to get back to the physical aspect of making something.
BS: Where do you think Australian design is heading?
BI: I’m really interested to see where Australian design is going. I think at the moment there’s a lot of reference to the old-world look and it will be interesting to see how this design concept translates into the future.
The winner of the Mercedes-Benz Design Award, presented by Broadsheet and Jardan, will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday September 17.