Design Tasmania is delighted to present and exhibition of DL, a new furniture collaboration between DesignByThem founders Sarah Gibson and Nicholas Karlovasitis and Australian fashion designer Dion Lee. Alongside this capsule collection, Curator and Executive Director Claire Beale has incorporated a selection of works by the designers as individuals to reveal the dynamic processes of practice that have come to inform this collaboration.
Three years in the making, the project began as a casual conversation during a trip to Milan. The DL Lounge Chair and DL Bench was launched at Milan Design Week 2019 at DesignByThem’s solo show in the Isola Design District, celebrating 12 years of producing Australian Design. The DL Collection is the first interdisciplinary collaboration for DesignByThem, merging fashion and industrial design principles. The DL Lounge Chair and Bench couple the iconic sculptural tailoring recognised in Dion Lee garments with the timeless structural details of GibsonKarlo designs.
“Taking cues from Bauhaus principles of economy of form and refinement of materials, expressed through craft mastery, The Form That Follows showcases the transformative potentiality achieved when designers collaborate across disciplines. The resultant DL collection elevates the chair as a known form beyond simple functionality to truly exceptional design. Collaboration is the key ingredient here, where both fashion and industrial design epistemologies combine to pursue an exploration of form that achieves a kind of meditation on the materials at hand. The suppleness of the twisted leather evokes movement, whilst the interlocking bands recall the graceful surety of elegant restraint. Minimalist and yet complex, this collection marks a high point in Australian design practice”- Claire Beale, Curator and Executive Director Design Tasmania
“The design originally started with a concept Dion and I discussed during a visit to Milan. The concept has undergone quite a lot of development with six rounds of prototyping and material experiments. It was important to us that the product demonstrated the experimental aspects of Dion’s work together with our experience in furniture detailing, manufacturing and commitment to creating a timeless design. Our goal was to maintain an openness to the design, whilst keeping the design dynamic, robust and comfortable.” - Sarah Gibson, Principal, GibsonKarlo
“I have always loved the slung leather designs of the Bauhaus era and designing with saddle leather has always been something that I’ve wanted to do. I love how the leather is a warm, soft yet structural element of the design. It’s a unique quality of this material. We wanted to reference Dion’s woven and structured design elements, combining these with traditional furniture making methods to create a visual lightness and interactivity.” - Nicholas Karlovasitis, Principal, GibsonKarlo
“In a similar way to fashion, furniture takes something functional and purposeful and explores innovation and technique to create something inspiring. I believe Sarah, Nick and I share a technical approach to design and a desire to create. With any collaboration, it becomes a dialogue between two very different perspectives and technical skill sets. In this instance, it was taking the technique of slashing and weaving, seen in some of our most recognisable products and translating that into commercialisation.” - Dion Lee, Designer
The designers’ principal challenge was to translate the movement of wearable materials into a static functional object. Referencing the iconic Bauhaus slung leather furniture typology, the DL Lounge Chair and Bench combine organic materials and angular silhouettes with the use of Italian saddle leather tensioned over a steel frame. Taking inspiration from Dion Lee’s signature weaving techniques, the durable saddle leather is woven throughout the metal frame to construct a fluid yet geometric form.
Photo: © Pete Daley