Congratulations to Woods Bagot's Rowan Gilbert on an amazing piece of furniture design that has won the 2012 Western Australian Student of the Year Awards.
The Y6RCHAIR has now been elevated into the Australian awards, making Rowan eligible to win the national prize.
Rowan developed the prototype Y6RCHAIR, robust in design, beautiful in form and functional in purpose, to be housed on the veranda of a sheep farm in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. We asked Rowan to tell us a bit about the design and its inspiration.
Hi Rowan, how did the name Y6R come about?The name Y6R has been borrowed from the family farm where I grew up. The property is located near the Porongurup Ranges in the Great Southern region of Western Australia.
A three digit code is assigned to a farmer as a livestock identification code. This allows them to identify which animals belong to them, or were born on their property. I liked the idea of a simple code which identifies your produce, or product as the case may be.
We love the inspiration and idea behind the prototype - tell us a bit more about the unique design The chair was designed to live on the family farm, and had to be adaptable. It had to be up to the task of being dragged outside and sat on in various configurations to enjoy an evening drink.
I didn’t just want a ‘one off’ chair that sat in the corner doing nothing when not in use, so I decided it should be able to be used as a magazine rack, or small table. The form came from an interest I have with the process of lamination. The idea of cutting a piece of timber in two and gluing it back together again to create a stronger element is an important one. It has allowed me use Karri in the chair, which is a readily available, local, undervalued timber in the furniture industry.
The design is very versatile – an outdoor dining chair, stool, table, magazine rack. Is that what buyers and consumers are looking for these days? A versatile product with many functions? Initially I couldn’t decide if I wanted to design a dining chair, an outdoor chair, a stool, table or magazine rack, so I set out with the aim to create an adaptable piece of furniture with moving parts.
I believed that if I was going to be working hard to design and construct a beautiful chair, then it should work hard to provide me with as many useful functions as possible. I feel there is a consumer-driven market for versatile furniture – especially for people living in higher density dwellings.
Have you always been interested in industrial design? What inspires you as a young designer? I have been interested in design from a very young age. Watching my grandfather, who was a wood turner, create beautiful objects was an early inspiration for me.
However, it wasn’t until I decided to study architecture at University of Western Australia that I became focused on design, and leapt at the opportunity to undertake a furniture design unit as part of my university course. As a young designer the opportunity to get away from computers and be empowered to design, construct and test ideas at a tangible scale with one’s own hands is very exciting to me.