Habitus: What manufacturing and joinery techniques does the Cusp Collection use?Rhys Cooper: The Cusp collection is made using contemporary joinery techniques such as solid mortise and tenon joinery along with bent plywood for the backrest and seat.
What was your approach and concept for designing the Cusp range?I designed the Cusp range early in my career, the initial concept was simply to design a contemporary tub chair. The early stages of development involved a lot of model making and prototyping, with feedback provided by my peers. I then made the initial prototype and after some minor changes JamFactory agreed to produce the collection. [caption id="attachment_110052" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Photo by Andy Nowell[/caption]
How do you consider materials in your design process?Material selection comes pretty early on in the design process and helps inform the direction, I find that if I don't decide on the material and production process I tend to jump between ideas too much. I work with a variety of materials, predominantly timber, but really enjoy working with ceramics, glass and textiles.
Why is Australian manufacturing important?Without Australian manufacturing, we will continue to lose valuable trades and craftspeople, and before we know it the industry will be lost. People should support local manufacturing where they can. Jam j-a-m.com.au Rhys Cooper rhyscooper.com.au abc
People are looking for a dedicated space in their homes, particularly those who have young children.”
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[The client] enjoys sitting at the dining table, after dishes have been cleared, and spreads his work across the table.”
Jeff Provan and his wife Mariko collaborated with two architects when renovating their Albert Park homeEstablished in the mid-1980s, Neometro began by developing townhouses in laneways in suburbs on the city fringe – Richmond, South Yarra, St Kilda and later, Fitzroy. One of his first homes, located in West Hawthorn (sold in the early 1990s) was certainly memorable. “I think it was the punchy Bougainvillea front door that most will recall,” says Jeff, who initially completed an engineering degree at RMIT University before studying architecture for a couple of years. What Jeff didn’t learn at RMIT, he has certainly crystalised over the decades. But wearing a developer/client ‘hat’ requires a slightly different skillset to renovating a terrace in virtually original condition.
The original balustrade is one of the elements alluding to the original homeWhile the front part of the house was retained, together with the bedrooms and bathroom on the first floor, the former rudimentary extension was replaced with a brutalist-style living, dining and kitchen area.
The Albert Park house, now designed for a couple of empty nesters, is beautifully layered with objects and artefacts found on travels, many from Japan where the couple regularly visit.Rather than the typical glass-box solution to the north-facing garden, which has been done by landscape design studio MUD OFFICE, the extension is chunky with a gentle barrel-vaulted concrete ceiling and concrete-rendered masonry walls. And rather than one open-plan space, the kitchen, scullery and pantry are concealed behind a raised tiled island bench at one end and a timber battened wall at the other.
The new extension is barrel-vaulted and concrete, filled with personal treasures and art, including Upright Wood Sculpture by Bruce Armstrong“Mariko and I have found that this allows the dining area to feel more intimate, particularly when you have friends over, creating a ‘veil’ as the meal is prepared,” he adds. The ‘knuckle’ or ‘threshold’ between the past, with its turned timber balustrade, and the present, the new wing, was one of the dilemmas in the renovation. “We wanted to create a sense of expansion at the end of the original passage,” says Jeff pointing out the curved concrete walls that ‘slip’ between the two eras. Jeff, and those working with him on this renovation, also appreciate his commitment to a strong idea and a love of materials that age gracefully rather than simply losing their sheen after a couple of years.
Traditional heritage details have been maintained in some partsCarrara marble appears on the kitchen splashback, as well as on benches and even on the floor (although timber was used for the living and dining area). “I have a saying that materials should ‘wear in’ rather than ‘wear out’, getting better with age and developing their rich patina over time.”
"Houses should continually evolve as new things are discovered” – Jeff ProvanThe Albert Park house, now designed for a couple of empty nesters, is also beautifully layered with objects and artefacts found on travels, many from Japan where the couple regularly visit. Each one has their own penchant for certain objects.
Objects and touches of personality adorn surfaces around the home. Artwork L-R: Untitled by Long Tom Tjapanangka and Tingari Cycle by George Hairbrush TjungurrayiJeff fondly points to a Tin Tin rocket on the timber shelf in the living room, while Mariko owns up to the large Star Wars character on the same shelf. Other objects provide joint pleasure, such as the Indian tribal masks, the numerous books burgeoning on the library shelves or the found treasures displayed on the Kaidan Dansu (Japanese-style storage that has a stepped effect). Jeff also enjoys collecting chairs, partially as he explains “they’re one of the most difficult things to design”. Surrounding the dining table is a combination of Thonet and Hans Wegner.
With a passion for chairs, Mariko and Jeff Provan have collected a range of designer pieces. Artwork: Cowboy Silhouettes by Denis RoparThere’s also a side chair by Patricia Urquiola in case an additional seat is required at the dining table, and the whimsical bright red Gaetano Pesce chair is ideal for when grandchildren come over. The large Bruce Armstrong sculpture would certainly also attract their attention. However, history comes full circle in this home with a chandelier in the library that has moved from the Hawthorn house to the Le Corbusier-inspired house in Toorak (also designed by Jeff ), before finding its resting place here.
Jeff believes houses should continuously evolve as new treasures are added. Artwork L-R: Wings by David White and Without a Splash by Matthew De Moiser“Houses should continually evolve as new things are discovered. It’s certainly not static,” says Jeff, whose passion for architecture is only rivalled by his love of cycling along the beach front, extending for miles. “I had to be near water. That was a given,” he adds. Neometro neometro.com.au Photography by Ben Hosking
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Access to the interior from the driveway is via a roller door and into an actual boat garage. To the left, a ramp rises gently through the full length of the house. Partway up, there is a door to a bedroom and bathroom before the ramp reaches its destination inside a double-height living space on the midfloor. Instead of the ubiquitous external deck, a set of large bi-folding windows and a deep overhang create a similar effect but bring the ‘deck’ space inside. Its elevation above both the beach in front and public reserve along one side provides a degree of privacy and creates the effect on being up in the tree canopy. Materials and details are raw and unpretentious, detailed in familiar, low-tech timber construction. Band-sawn pine planks line the walls and ceiling, oiled cedar plywood and battens add a deeper colour on the back wall, and built-in seating maximises the use of space. The architect has avoided custom details to create a casual and relaxed atmosphere, with the only obvious ‘city’ elements being the plate steel balustrade and kitset steel kitchen by IMO. At the back of this large shared space is a short flight of stairs to the top floor (stacked above the bedroom and bathroom below), which contains two bedrooms and a multi-use room. The main bedroom features two hatches to overlook the living room and out to sea, while the third bedroom faces westward towards the valley and is characterised by the vertical proportions of the landside elevation. Nautical themes can be spotted in the slot windows down both side elevations – like an ocean liner – and in the external spiral stair painted bright orange like a buoy. “I saw the house as part boat and part shed, as well as a boatshed,” says Rich. So these elements create a tongue-in-cheek analogy with a beached vessel. Sustainability calculations show the home is embodied carbon zero. With only a few steel connections and foundation concrete, the house is mostly timber. The site has rainwater tanks, on-site stormwater and septic tanks, and exotic landscape species have been replaced with 400 native plants and trees. “It’s an experimental and very personal house in a lot of ways,” says Rich. “Not just in terms of climate change and carbon zero, but also in terms of doing something that I don’t usually have the opportunity to do for clients; to push the boundaries formally, functionally and environmentally, while finding a responsible way to occupy the site.” RTA Studio rtastudio.co.nz Photography by Patrick Reynolds Dissection Information Cedar shiplap exterior cladding Pineboard interior cladding Resene whitewash coating Band-sawn oak floorboards Mr Bigglesworthy Ercol timber furniture ECC lighting IMO kitchen Fisher & Paykel appliances BathCo white oak mirror unit Metrix ‘Alape’ bucket sink and sink shelf Metrix ‘Elio’ mixer
Climate will challenge its occupation, so we approached it as an experimental project to create a resilient structure that could be inhabited for generations to come.”
Nautical themes can be spotted in the slot windows down both side elevations – like an ocean liner – and in the external spiral stair painted bright orange like a buoy.abc
What drew you to ceramics?When I saw the potential multidisciplinary aspects and business opportunities of working with ceramics, it was a no brainer. Opportunities such as exhibition, commissions, production, retail, markets, teaching, e-commerce, the list goes on. I was confident that I could create a practice solely dependent on my creative skills as a clay practitioner, and there aren’t many creative disciplines that allow you to do that. Of course, I was also drawn to the materials and the multitude of applications you can adopt. Visually, it’s a chameleon and a contradiction; it can be transformed into something that it’s not. In archaeology, a piece of shard can define cultures and place civilisations in time. You can lose yourself in processes and sciences behind them. Clay is really very fascinating stuff.
What are things about working with clay that people may not realise?There are three different kinds of clay, earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. It’s very important to know what clay you’re using, because each clay type vitrifies at different temperatures. If you fire (or bake) an earthenware clay object in a porcelain kiln firing, the object will melt. You need a lot of dexterity in your hands and arm, especially when wheel throwing. It’s very hard to see this when you’re watching an artisan that has been working with clay for a long time. Left hand knows where right hand is, they should always be touching; equal pressure from both right and left and when not, they are compensating; with consistent and confident hand flow movements, it’s magical to watch. Clay has memory. Plastic clays, which are what we get buddled up in bags ready to go and (without getting technical) is basically made from dirt and water. Once you’ve made something out of clay, that shape has a memory. As water is released during the drying and firing process it starts to lose its memory. This is a common cause for warping, the more placidity the greater to warpage.
How do you approach the craft process?Material plays a huge part in my design philosophy, especially working at JamFactory. Not saying form or function doesn’t, but if you have an understanding of materials, everything cohesively falls into place. For me, material responds to numerous sensors such touch, sight and emotion. You can instantly see when an object has consideration for material; you feel it, see it and you’re overwhelmed by it. Material is also the making process, and the inherit nature of clay, it can undoubtedly make you smile, but it can equally make you cry. It’s a material that can never be underestimated and keeps you constantly on your toes.
What is the production process for the Jolley Light shade?The Jolley Light is made using a method called jiggering and jollying (USA) or depending on where you come from jiggering and jolleying (UK). I obviously prefer the latter, hence Jolley Light, because the Jigger Jolley machines were designed and perfected during the great industrial revolution by Wedgwood. The Jigger Jolley machine allows the studio to produce products exactly the same each time which is what you need when working with commercial products such as lighting. The process refers to pushing soft clay onto a spinning plaster mould, which forms the outer shape and engages a tapered template to form the inner profile. It’s different to other mould making methods such as slip casting and it allows us to be more playful with our materials.
What is the production process for Bump serving ware?Our Bump Serving Ware Range is made on the pottery wheel, which is my favourite method of making and is one of the most disciplined and highly skilled making processes in ceramics. To be able to produce the distinctive Bump rim, we designed a die/jig that we push down onto the rim whilst the form is wet. It’s a tricky process and requires a lot of skill, the wall and rim thickness must be precise every time because if it isn’t things get a little messy. Fun Fact: Pottery wheels have been in use since 3,000 BCE. They’re not like the ones we see today, but made of stone and operated by either pushing it with your foot or a stick. Jam j-a-m.com.au Photography by JamFactory We think you would also like our round-up of things to see as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021 [caption id="attachment_109835" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Photo by Andy Nowell[/caption]abc
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