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A successful partnership – Charles Wilson and King

A successful partnership – Charles Wilson and King


The award-winning Sydney-based designer Charles Wilson has had a long and fruitful working relationship with King, with the most recent collaboration being the Zaza chair. But how does this partnership work in practice?

King has been designing and manufacturing contemporary award-winning furniture in Australia for nearly half a century, while Wilson has been designing products for the brand for over a decade. He says the secret sauce to the success of the collaboration is a meeting of minds when it comes to fundamental beliefs about design.

“Our values aligned well from the outset,” he explains, “particularly in the way King has always been interested in furniture that solves problems and adapts to people’s needs. That sort of challenge, particularly with mechanical innovation and material innovation, has always been of interest to me.”

The ways in which both King and Wilson himself have evolved have also been symbiotic, he says. “Our sensibilities aligned well too and together we have moved in a similar direction over the last 10 years.”

In a practical sense, there is give and take with the process. “Often I come up with new designs for the collection specifically with King in mind,” he says. “Alternatively, they approach me with a brief for a particular direction that they want to head in.

“I’m quite happy to work in either way.”

Charles Wilson

One of the most successful collaborations has been the Zaza series, which began with the sofa around three or four years ago. Wilson first designed the indoor version, following it with an outdoor iteration a couple of years later. “While the outdoor version appears almost the same, much research and material innovation went into making the design work for tough outdoor conditions,” he says.

The sofas are individually tailored with Sunbrella fabrics, and are UV stable, mildew resistant, quick drying and feature enhanced waterproofing. The covers are also easily removable for professional cleaning.

The indoor version of the Zaza sofa comes in various configurations – including three-seater, two-seater, with flexible arms and incorporating a chaise – so the introduction of a single chair Zaza was a natural evolution.

Wilson works closely with the in-house design team at King to realise each product.

Charles Wilson

“It’s actually a very involved process working with the designers at King,” he explains. “Typically, when creating a new work, I resolve the proportions and mechanisms to a high level of detail, then it becomes a more collaborative process working with their designers who in turn work with the manufacturing personnel.”

But in handing over his work to the team, does he ever have that feeling of losing control, like a novelist whose work has been adapted by someone else for the big screen?

Not at all, he says. “I’d never be happy to just hand something over, no. I’m very particular about how it needs to be resolved, but the designers that I work with at King are very good at what they are doing.

“It’s not about compromise. They have a keen eye for the design intention and how to best go about resolving that. And they take great care in resolving the lines and achieving the comfort levels that are expected of a King design. That’s the side of the process that I particularly enjoy.”

Charles Wilson


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