From its very foundations, Harbour Outdoor has been invested in nurturing up-and-coming talent within the Australian and international design industry. As the next generation of the family business takes the helm, this tradition shows no signs of slowing.
Nicholas and Harrison Condos are incredibly proud of their father, Jim. Chief creative officer and chief executive officer of Harbour’s US market respectively, the brothers tell stories of how their father – a blacksmith from the age of just 13 – taught them the art of craftsmanship with a focus on attention to detail and a hands-on approach.
The senior Condos was a role model to the duo and to many of the designers with whom he has worked throughout the years. As Harbour expanded from its roots in Sydney to the US and Hong Kong, the family has always strived to support emerging talent – whether it be in a design role or in other aspects of the highly competitive furniture business.
To find out more, ADR sat down with Nicholas and Harrison Condos.
What advice do you have for young designers who want to follow in your footsteps?
Our furniture designs are simple, clean and organic and our design philosophy is true to its Australian roots. When we were starting out, we must have drawn up hundreds of designs to show our father. Most were too hard, too expensive or simply weren’t going to work, but every once in a while, one would filter through and it would be a winner.
So, understand your philosophy, don’t get discouraged, try and try again and don’t deviate too far off the path.
Also, make sure you find a mentor network or business opportunity that can help challenge your thinking and lead to future success. Learn from people who are highly experienced in design and have the patience to take every opportunity to grow.
What is the most challenging part of being a designer today?
Deciding on what direction to take next with new designs is always a challenge. Developing product collections takes time and we need to take into consideration seasonal changes and different global markets. Sometimes, we take a risk with something new that we are launching, which can be daunting, but it’s also incredibly rewarding to see a design in which you have invested so much time become an amazing collection that is successful around the globe.
Where should young designers looking to work with a brand like Harbour start?
Making contacts with a design portfolio is a good place to start. No matter where you are in your career, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and build networks. Networking is always a great way to meet people in the industry as, no matter where you are in the world, it’s often a small circle with big prospects. And you never know, maybe these people will follow you back or even start the conversation with an opportunity.
What does Harbour look for in the designers with whom it works?
Designers who have a goal and passion for high quality, innovative furniture design.
It’s easy to draw a design, but hard to determine whether it will be strong enough to actually develop and appeal to a global audience. Patience, resilience, effort and an eye for detail are vital. We grew up learning skills from our father who was determined to show us every technique from drilling to cutting, grinding and bending tubes, so naturally, we expect designers to appreciate this process and get involved in every step if they need to.
How would you summarise Australian design?
Australian design is inspired by its surroundings. It may be minimalist, neutral or organic to reflect coastal alfresco living or bold, sharp and modern to suit a contemporary home. It’s an amalgamation of local and global trends, but always true to its roots and intention.
What is it that makes Australian designers stand out on the international stage?
Australian designers stay true to their design beliefs and philosophies, yet always remain innovative. They don’t overcomplicate things and almost always take into consideration local and global trends, which is a necessity given that our lifestyle differs so much from the other side of the world!
Find out more about Harbour at harbouroutdoor.com.au or reach out to connect at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography supplied by Harbour.