Movement through Australia’s expansive interior provided the inspiration behind Elliat Rich’s winning entry into this year’s Australian Furniture Design Awards.
The Alice Springs-based designer took top honours with her piece titled Place. The highly original work can be described as a sculptural vanity – a kind of old-fashioned object evoking feminine ritual. The unit, which was fabricated for her by Oscar Prieckaerts in Sydney has a neatly concealed draw constructed from stacked and coloured dowel, a removable storage container and a velvet-covered pivoting mirror – all of which perch atop fine timber legs. The colours, textures and sense of foreground, middle ground and background in the piece have all been informed by her many journeys driving across the central Australian landscape.
Rich was chosen from the six finalists who were shortlisted from over 100 entrants. The finalists were flown to Adelaide to present their prototypes to judges Jon Goulder, creative director furniture design studio, JamFactory; Tony Russell, brand director, Stylecraft; Rebecca Evans, curator of decorative arts, Art Gallery of South Australia; Stephen Todd, design editor, Australian Financial Review Magazine and Susan Standring, practice director, Carr Design Group. Through the intensive process the judges were looking for originality, innovation and evidence of the designer’s professional capability.
The judges were impressed by Rich’s conceptual approach and how where she lives informs what she does – they noted that the work was poetic, strong, innovative and brave. Judging panellist Stephen Todd commented that with this work she was, “swimming against the tide, elegantly”.
Rich completed a bachelor of design with first class honours in 2006 at the University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts. She works across a broad range of design projects for a diverse client base including cross-cultural resources, exhibition design, public art and furniture, product development, one-off exhibition and limited run objects. In 2014 Rich and her partner launched Elbowrkshp, a studio, retail space and workshop they share with other creative professionals.
As the winner of this important biennial award, Rich receives $20,000 and the opportunity to undertake a residency in JamFactory’s Furniture Studio to develop new work to a specific brief for commercial production and distribution through Stylecraft showrooms across Australia and Singapore. Rich will receive royalty income from the work developed for as long as it remains in production. In addition, Rich’s winning prototype Place, will be acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia for its permanent collection. This prototype, along with those of the other five finalists, will be on display at JamFactory until 16 July and then at Stylecraft showrooms in Melbourne and Sydney over the next two months.
The other finalists were Trent Jansen, NSW; Mitchel Eaton, VIC; James Howe, SA; Adam Markowitz, VIC; and Damien Wright and Bonhula Yunupingu, VIC and NT.
Catch our interview with Rich over here.