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Design By Process

Lee Suckling visits designer Nathan Goldsworthy for an account of how process informs shape.

Nathan Goldsworthy is attempting to define the aesthetic of his design company for the first time.

“At first glance there’s an eclecticism to it,” he says of Goldsworthy, an Auckland-based outfit born out of Nathan’s former company Conscious Design. “It’s hard to define in a word, though. I’ve never really described aesthetic before because I don’t necessarily pursue a style or form. The pieces are defined only by the design procedure or material they’re made of.”

Goldsworthy was established after its namesake designer Nathan rebranded his company in 2012. “Most of the product range carried over, but I took a chance to re-establish myself as simply ‘Goldsworthy’,” Nathan says.

Heavily driven by process, Nathan is keen on a design’s development informing its final shape. His new stool ‘Kimono’ exemplifies this. “It’s an industrial interpretation of paper and fabric folding techniques, as seen in Japanese craft such as origami,” Nathan says.

It took Nathan “quite a while to realise Kimono was a stool”, he explains. “I did a long investigation into the thickness of the chosen material – aluminium – which started thin and flimsy to replicate fabric or paper, and came to life as it got thicker.” The aluminium eventuated to 5mm. “The final three-dimensional invention was no longer just folded 2D paper. It was something cantilevered with subtle movement that gave it a cushioning effect – something best used to sit on.”

Japanese craft recurs throughout Goldsworthy’s product range – it’s also prevalent in ‘Monarch’, a collection of stools, tables and coffee tables released this year. “I suppose I have an appreciation of the elegance of Japanese craft, and my impression of the way Japanese people live,” Nathan says. “I envisage a quietness to Japanese living spaces, brought on by process and ritual – such as when shoes come off and slippers go on at the front door.”

Materials, too, weigh on Nathan’s creative mind. “I’ve always tried to work with materials I’ve never used before,” he says, noting wood and aluminium in Kimono and Monarch’s construction, and hinting at bronze as next on his list. “I don’t know much about a material before I start using it. That makes me free from assumption, and free from limitations on what it can do.” 


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