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Bubble and Speak Breakfast Seminar Series 2011 – Roy Schack (Furniture) + Thomas Bailey (Room 11)

September 14, 2011

To get you in the mood for tomorrow morning’s Bubble and Speak Breakfast Seminar 03 at Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel, Becky Green has reviewed Seminar 02 for the Design Institute of Australia‘s (DIA) and I’m re-posting it here to share, so that a wider audience knows what they’re missing! No kidding, these seminars are absolutely worth every bit of the effort needed to make it to a 7am breakfast for the inspiration gleaned from creative industry professionals. You don’t need to be a member to attend, but I’ll give you all the details after Becky’s great review of the 11 August line up including, Roy Shack (Furniture Maker) and Thomas Bailey (Architect from Room 11)…

As first-up speaker to a yawning, chilled August crowd, Roy’s easy and personable speaking style immediately created warmth, vibrancy and outright jealousy in the room. Starting with the epiphany he had at 2am at his desk at a Merchant Bank, a job he had rather fallen into by accident, he realised that he was missing out on life despite the trappings and luxuries of success. During his exploration of alternatives, he allowed his head to be given a belt by a metaphoric cricket bat at a furniture exhibition, leading him to quit his job and study furniture making at the Sturt School for Wood in the NSW Southern Highlands. Upon graduation, Roy followed his true calling creating beautiful wooden furniture and passing on the knowledge and skill he has developed to others.

Roy’s work has been influenced by his Danish heritage and his love of Japanese styles. His work is a stunning embodiment of these values, with straight lines, careful shadow lines and delightful variation of wood tone. The result is warm and familiar, yet sophisticated. Piece after piece was shown, with the relationship between client and maker highlighted as a symbiotic, vital element. Each piece showed the needs and personality of both parties. Exhibition work was displayed next, which allowed us to see Roy’s own expressive vision, unclouded by the desires and wants of the client. Beautiful pieces such as the Harvest Table and the Sentinels spoke of quiet, solid beauty and balance, while his Minced Media piece for the Gunshop displayed intelligent, surprising visual humour.

Roy’s work has now moved into a more speculative arena: creating pieces designed for people, and making it accessible. His Brisbane School of Fine Woodwork at Samford is his other passion, enrolling four students only per semester, and creating quiet joy in each of them. Roy’s love of the medium is palpable, “If you’re working with precious material, make something that’s going to last” he said, in reference to discovering that the wood for a particular piece contained more than a thousand growth rings. Roy professed a love of hand-cutting dovetails, and having it fit together perfectly at the end of the day’s work. Even his hand planes were beautiful, simple functional pieces, and the multitude of “gratuitous wood porn” imagery he displayed was testament to his singular passion. The idea of having an ultra-fine wood shaving float gently off the plane and settle delicately onto my forearm was certainly more attractive than the desk and computer I knew I had to return to after the breakfast was over.

Thomas Bailey is a core member of Room 11, a team of architects and designers somewhat reminiscent of the characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Members include “The Builder” (and architect), the “Sound Artist” (and architect), “The Plumber”, and “Young and Ferocious” and “The Wookie” (Thomas himself). Studying together at the Hobart School of Architecture, this group worked in close contact with the Art School, and have retained the close collaboration and ideals forged there.

Expanding on these ideals at length, Thomas suggested that houses are shelters for people, that homes provide security against childish fears of nature and the wilderness, and more importantly, against wild hoodlums with axes. The example shown was a house designed for a remote area on a hillside, and the theme was to create security from which to enjoy the seclusion and the natural surrounds. The house had strong, reassuring form with a soft, welcoming interior designed to draw you into the “heart” of the structure: the kitchen. Another ideal that was defined by the images of the final building was that the structure should be efficient, using the least amount of timber but still create drama and a good relationship to place.

Elements employed by Thomas and Room 11 were simple, clean lines, concrete floors and wooden ceilings, interplay of lighting and structural design, glass walls, floating ceilings and an interesting use of a Dampilon wall, and the late afternoon soft shadows it creates. Thomas also introduced the concept that Room 11 are about space-making, or volume-making, that the building itself is just a shadow around the warm interior. He mentioned it would even be nice if the outer shell didn’t need to be there. The focus on the warm interior, the volume as a definition in a minimum number of lines to define existence was clear in the intuitive way that the living spaces were designed to operate.

We also saw GASP!, an interesting art and sculpture park comprising a walkway in a previously-ignored stretch of coastline, stretching between pavilions containing artworks and displays. Using community ideas, vibrant colour and lyricism, Room 11 proved that they were about more than just black architectural forms.

Lastly, Thomas showed us his personal “Le Courbusier in Algiers” folly, a submission for the IP2100 Venice Biennale. A vision of the future in Tasmania, we were shown a gigantic “spine” across the state and joining it to the mainland with a vast bridge of deliciously slender proportion. Integrated visually with the environment, the spine is a place to live, a giant bridge, a road, a water filter, a power generator and much more. Room 11’s functional, strong and thought-provoking responses and their eclectic members seem to need only one more thing: some slow-motion walking and a theme song.

Great review Becky. Thank you! And, thanks to the DIA for allowing me to reprint it on my blog.

As you know I’m up tomorrow as one of two speakers, with the talented team that is Pandarosa. You can still get yourself some tickets, but don’t dally! Let’s see what the review of Seminar 03 will bring!

Images courtesy of the DIA Flickr Stream: Top – Roy Schack, Bottom – Thomas Bailey


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Becky permalink
    January 5, 2013 12:22 PM

    Thanks for the review of my review, would have loved to write one on yours too! BG

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