Practice Profile: Small Australian Projects

Aug 19, 2010
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Photography by Jon Linkins
  • Designer Small Australian Projects

The inspiration behind Small Australian Projects came from founder Toby Lewis’ personal struggle to find good quality furniture for his Donovan Hill-designed home in Brisbane.

“After investing in an architect-designed home, I tried to find quality, designer furniture that wouldn’t break the bank, and discovered there was a huge gap in the market,” says Lewis. “I had only two options – cheap furniture manufactured in Asia that lacked quality, or exorbitantly priced furniture designed for European environments, which didn’t suit the Australian lifestyle. In the end, Donovan Hill designed furniture specifically for my house. Everyone who visited asked where I purchased my furniture, and from there the idea to extend the same offering to all Australian homes began.”

And so, Small Australian Projects was born – a unique company, which, in partnership with some of Australia’s best architects, designs and creates furniture that celebrates national identity and environmental sensitivity. The goal? To democratise architecture – making exquisite architectural design accessible to more Australians.

Following the successful launch of Small Australian Projects’ inaugural Donovan Hill-designed range of furniture in late 2008, the company’s panel of architects has since expanded to include some of the country’s leading practices – Durbach Block, John Wardle, m3, and Owen and Vokes.

These top architectural firms deliver their own unique style and eclectic ideas to Small Australian Projects and have complete creative freedom throughout the design process. Each of the architects is creating a generation of buildings that are Australian in style, and the aim of Small Australian Projects is to make furniture that the world will view as great Australian design befitting the homes and offices in which we live and work.

The new ranges include a diversity of products such as dining settings suitable for any size family, coffee tables, children’s furniture, home office equipment, one-of-a-kind mirrors, lighting, furniture for small spaces and pieces adaptable to outdoor living spaces. Products resonate with customers because each piece is practical and flexible.

“Our furniture is generational and can be used in several living environments over a lifetime,” says Lewis. “For example, the Owen and Vokes Camp Lounge can double as a daybed, and the Donovan Hill Pack Mate crate can also be used as a shelf, seat, coffee table or basket.” Donovan Hill co-founder Timothy Hill says he was drawn to Small Australian Projects not only because of the underpinning ideals of well-made Australian furniture for Australian homes, but also because of its commitment to sustainability.

Since being established in September 2008, Small Australian Projects has made its mark in the Australian design world, completing residential and office fitouts around the country, including for Arrow Energy, Aecom, Trinity and, most recently, Nielson Properties in the new Santos building in Brisbane’s CBD. Small Australian Projects supports the creativity of Australian architects and also promotes emerging designers through its ‘On Show’ initiative, allowing designers free use of the Small Australian Projects showroom (on James Street in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley) to exhibit their work.

And as for the future? Small Australian Projects is looking to establish a permanent presence in both Sydney and Melbourne and to introduce innovative new products such as bar stools, credenzas and mini office units, all with that unique Small Australian Projects twist of course!

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