by Lena Gatti
All design realms interest me…though graphic design filled my days before a quick study of fashion design and textiles. more for interest in the making processes and systems which carries through into my new leather lights, pod luxe. Deciding my own direction came early on when i was a graphic designer. I liked moving house, state, environments - technology made it easy to retain clients in one city while living in another. During this reshuffling of my material world thinking about easily moveable objects came onto my radar. Relocating to Tasmania cleared my head space for creating a business based on flat-pack objects…in particular, lights.
The WhoDidThat brand evolved during graphic design projects - friends of clients would ask of my work, 'who did that?'. People respond positively to the name which frequently brings a smile. Sounds cheesy but it works.
The biggest challenge during the grandeliers startup was sourcing local sustainable materials. I ended up selecting certified ‘Chain of Custody’ timbers for production as they come from sustainably managed forests in Tasmania, Australia. This valuable ‘Chain of Custody’ program is an initiative of Fine Timber Tasmania (Australia) who oversees annual auditing of all licensees (of which whodidthat is one) to ensure timbers are used to specific guidelines – from management through to transportation. It also offers an assurance to the Grandeliers end-users that we chose this program as it’s socially beneficial and environmentally appropriate. It's certified under the Australian Forestry Standard which is endorsed globally by PEFC (programme for endorsement of forest certification).
There was a polarising moment with an environmental group who were quite hostile about my choice…hailing it as the ruination of our business, the world and everything on it. Er, well, not quite. In a couple of scorching emails the leader raged that FSC was the only choice. At that point (and currently) Tasmania had no FSC materials and shipping from the mainland added substantial costs and carbon miles. These few words calmed the quandary. Ouch!
The lesson there was to know all the facts about certifications. Happy to say I did.
Flat-pack is a continuing thought for me - as a kid various honeycomb paper decorations flavoured our house for celebrations; one week, jumbo sized baubles - the next, perfectly folded paper stored in a drawer. I liked that ‘magical’ ease. So, creating a range of lights reflecting that simplicity and with relevance to my personal and physical landscapes was my foremost inspiration along with efficiencies in materials, and delivery – around the corner or around the world.
Adding to the lineup? Yes. late last year I introduced Pod Luxe, a woven leather light connecting an ancient craft with modern technology using locally sourced leather. Their story has been boosted by New York's design tabloid 'Interior Design', France, Turkey and Poland. Plus the Pod Luxe smell and feel fantastic…quite the sensory object. Also a drum pendant, Street light from certified local timber or ecologia® Australia's first carbon- neutral polypropylene sheet made here from 70% recycled australian waste. Expect to see them online soonest.
Ancient craft and the environment stoke the creativity…the Grandeliers Hoop style is prompted by a regard for the Tasmanian domain, the interference pattern of superimposed lines is informed by both the growing and clearing of trees.
The Reggie and Reggie Black
Ha, no Dad's just Dad with his bushy style. He's been on the land forever so his respect and knowledge of the environment I guess is in my gene pool. He offered some good advice on leather and different processes which informed some choices when creating the Pod Luxe series. Oh, okay…I guess he can have a percentage!
The world's not full of infinite resources although looking at landfill you'd be mistaken. Making a product that is multi-generational using future-friendly materials did come from my rural heritage where the reuse recycle mantra was frequent. My parents weren't of the disposable mentality, they worked hard to build up their agricultural business so when purchases were considered and cherished.
Using local sustainable materials is my only choice. we're only limited by our imagination…there's much that can be done with timber, leather, and ecologia. Durable and eco-friendly the production of these materials is made greener by their longevity. So keep them…pass them on.
Meeting visitors at design shows and connecting with them over one of my lights. Simple things like that and being able to daydream and research design every day. Frustrations? They seem inconsequential when a new design emerges.
Oh, no, that's tricky…out of the Grandeliers i'd say the Cotton. No, the Hoop or perhaps the Baroque (my first design in the range). How about i just vote for Miss Popularity, the Cotton due to various sizes and versatility? There's lots of wonderful feedback and compliments, one which added extra sunshine to my day was "I love this design so much I could squeeze you!"
Yep, so go ahead…squeeze away. It's nice to be loved.
Keeping material selection and production local is our main star. Our studio has super basic things like filtered water, using glass, riding bikes. growing organic produce and communal lunches. Sharing food and ideas…checkout how an artichoke's leaves overlap…so much natural design in vegetables. Plus we planted 568 trees a couple of years ago. Happy days!
Baroque Wood Grandeliers
Heading to more international design shows is top of the pile. Milan and then Paris for Maison et Objet - where the Grandeliers were awarded the discovery prize, 'Prix des Découvertes' in 2012. Hurrah! However, a solo exhibition in March introduce a new material into our range.
Change begins at home with power, water, food waste...that's a gimme. Aspire to buy original designer pieces that last for generations. Skip the imitations - they nullify the credibility and hard work of the original designer. It's not a feel good or eco thing to do. But that's my soapbox opinion. It's easy being green. Just ask Kermit the Frog.
Gatti Design sends a huge thank you to Who Did That for sharing their business and achievements with us. We are proud to support such a wonderfully creative and inspiring design business. Your contribution to the industry is greatly received and allows us to select unique products to create interesting and stylish spaces for our clients.
WHO DID THAT ! brilliant name and UBER cool lights guys... Love your work ! Lena x