It goes without saying some designers add a great dose of fearless innovation, committed to a tradition of quality by keeping products fresh and unique within their current landscape. In our recent interview with Melbourne based designer, Oliver Wilcox, the mind behind Lost Profile, we learnt it hasn’t come without its challenges. He credits prototyping for giving his products a strong direction, rediscovering forgotten shapes of natural history objects and prompting us to rethink Art Deco influences and organic forms in order to shape rooted design for the future. The result is one of a kind piece like Colossal pendant, assembled in his studio, from start to finish, where brass components are meticulously cleaned and finished to reveal their uncommon beauty.
Colossal hangs suspended from the ceiling in all its skeletal glory reminiscent of a whale backbone that appears to have been unearthed by an archaeological dig. It plays on concepts of continuous rhythm and balanced geometry, a parallel repetition of sharp wings taking line and scale to the next level.
Passionate and expert in cutting edge LED technology, Oliver uses low voltage to super modern and efficient techniques to achieve a threaded fitting like Colossal, understanding materials, their identity and their process of work. But we’re intrigued by the back story of why humans are drawn to organic shapes in design and where the inspiration comes from. Perhaps designers have the responsibility to bring up new products to the market without forgetting their long-term existence to avoid producing for the sake of producing and thus better adapt to the evolution of our society. That each design should become a part of clients’ lives, telling a story through the marks and impressions whilst bringing grace and longevity that are more than just a vague decoration.
In his words, Oliver describes Colossal as a reflection of aeroplane wing motifs and stranded marine life. His ability to pick on subtle visual cues and translate them into products is remarkable. It leads us on a mission to embrace the idea that harmonious interaction with nature and aircraft has existed for centuries, and Oliver has precisely highlighted this relationship through his design.
When asked about turning organic inspiration into something more industrial and brutal, he praises the materials themselves and the use of minimal fittings and construction.
“I like the idea of assembling something that slots together, borrowing elements of German design where timber houses are built without nails. Using one material as my main substrate and then integrating other components into the frame.”
It wasn’t until we casually asked about his childhood when Oliver admits he hadn’t actually considered before how his younger experiences could influence his work as a designer. He began reminiscing of his Nan’s stories about the 1931 Hawke Bay’s earthquake, when the central part of Napier, New Zealand was wiped off and rebuilt with Art Deco influences, creating an immersive architectural experience.
“I remember my Nan would tell me about how a massive expanse of land was raised from the water permanently. I remember being fascinated at the idea of this never before seen landscape appearing within minutes, the treasures of the deep being instantly exposed.”
These are the elements that secretly help shape design; they permit an introspection of our relationship with nature and its ever changing forms of endless manifestations. From land to sea, young designers have a way of bringing earth struggles to our attention, contemplating its organic forms in awe and resetting attitudes towards more respect for the environment.
Merging industrial notes into his design, Oliver elaborates on the importance of air travel to the modern society and culture as it was in the 1930s, and how it’s also hugely important to him and his progression as an artist.
“While the act of flying these days might commonly be reduced to an Instagram snap of a plane’s wing soaring over a sunset, I still feel privileged, grateful and humbled every time I board a flight regardless whether headed for an overseas adventure or just to Sydney to visit family and friends. “
What we love the most about Oliver’s work is that his talent feels organic and intuitive just as like his designs and his vision is very much original. Distinct from “on trend” creations, it’s impressive to see how authenticity and new ways of looking at history of landscape and aviation industry shapes design, and brings a sense of belonging that we as individuals can relate to.