Alex Earl (pictured above) is a lighting and furniture designer and manufacturer, based in Collingwood, Melbourne. Gerard Pinto – also Melbourne based – specialises in furniture and lighting, as well as retail, graphics, interiors and architecture. Here to two share with us the ins and outs of their new products and their creative meeting of the minds.
Alice Blackwood: What brought yourself and Alex together, to form earl.pinto?
Gerard Pinto: Alex and I started working together on a fit-out designed by myself. One of Alex’s lights was hanging above my desk at work, which I wanted to use but wanted modified.
I eventually [tracked him down] and convinced him to work with me.
It was refreshing to work with someone as creative and willing to experiment with production techniques.
After having worked on a number of jobs involving customised fittings we discovered a gap – primarily an unwillingness to customise or modify.
AB: Where does earl.pinto place in terms of your private studios?
GP: We are both quite busy with our own practices.
Increasingly we are realising that earl.pinto requires more time and effort – something we are starting to address. Ultimately we enjoy the time we spend on earl.pinto. Wherever possible we do merge our projects together through various retail fit-outs.
Kink desk with lamp and ‘orb on a wheel’
Alex Earl: There’s a lot of cross-over between our practices – Gerard’s background is in architecture, specialising in commercial retail fit-out design – mine is in lights and furniture. Our different skills fit well together – his experience is often in areas where mine isn’t so strong and vice versa.
This means we feel comfortable tackling all sorts of projects, large and small.
The formation of earl.pinto has been a great boost to my own practice, and Gerard would probably be of the same opinion.
Kink desk and floor lamps
AB: You’re both obviously drawn to wood, can you tell us a little about the materials you choose to use?
GP: We use materials and technologies that are readily available to us. We work with solid timbers and plywood, and find experimenting with veneers, coloured stains and inlays quite satisfying.
Polypropylene and acrylic are also materials we use and we have recently started to play with metal – mild steel, stainless steel and aluminium. We use a lot of recycled timber and tend to salvage bits of everything (always on the lookout for old piano legs and veranda posts).
Wood allows us to meld cutting-edge technology with age-old craftsmanship – an area we tend to explore.
AE: I’ve always worked with wood – whether it be solid timbers or plywoods, there’s something about timber that doesn’t get boring.
Having said that, we are about to release a range of steel furniture – slightly industrial but with our own machined components which add detail and expand the function of our tables, chairs and other items.
We’ve recently added a metal machining component to our workshop space – thus opening new possibilities.
AB: There’s a certain quirk to the form of your pieces – what’s the story behind it?
GP: Together we seem to go all over the place, sometimes decorative and ornate and other times quite simple and clean. Our aesthetic tastes are quite complementary, so it’s easy to evolve our designs.
Sometimes quite literal forms like the leaf light seem to come easily, other times it’s an evolution over a number of prototypes.
Often things come about because we’re unable to find an ideal piece for a particular project. We try to spend time in the workshop just prototyping, seeing where things will go. That’s where the fun really is…