Design & Decoration S01 ep10: Jon Goulder, Goulder Design, [Sydney]
Interview with Jon Goulder
I was taught by George Ingham at the Canberra school of art. I would do the absolute best I could do and think I had this most special thing, and bring it over and say 'Check this out', and then he would strip you down and you would go home feeling 'Ohhhh I'm broken!' But you would come back the next day and he would lift you to understand the importance of detail, the refinement, not to stop to think 'that will do'. Burn it and start again and get it perfect. [ awarded a prize by Philippe Stark]
KM: What is Jon Goulder?
Yes, I am a postmodern, alternative Australian designer, and there are not
many of us.
I grew up in a furniture factory surrounded by 3 dimensional objects, in Bowral,
which is 1 1/2 hours south.
KM: But why were your parents in a furniture business in Bowral of all places?
Originally it was in Sydney but they decided to move to Bowral for a better
I was trained in the craft of woodworking so I am very familiar with how wood
moves and the nature of wood as a material. I purposely use man made
materials, I use plywood...
KM: But why?
Sustainability, I use it because I don't really want to be a woodworker, I don't
really want to be known as a woodworker. I use wood because it’s warm. You
know you can sit at this wooden table and feel the warmth of wood. If it was a
sheet of glass or plastic you would feel sweaty and.....
I am the kind of designer that embraces the technology. I am into CNC
machines, 5 axis routers cutters; whatever can do the job for me. Mocking
things up I do it all 3D, 10 to 1 scale model and then I would go to a full scale
prototype to investigate the detail and the function.
The Leader Seat is one 25mm sheet of plywood CNC'd. It has been cut like
this and just gets smaller and smaller.
KM: Oh I see!
The prototype has been sold I think the Powerhouse Museum are interested.
I was taught by a guy called George Earmet at the Canberra school of art. I
would do the absolute best I could do and think I had this most special thing,
and bring it over and say check this out, and then he would strip you down,
pretty much strip your work to bits and you would go home going Ohhhh I'm
broken! But you would come back the next day
KM: Determined to kick his arse
… yeah, and he would lift you to understand the importance of detail, the
refinement, not to stop to think that will do, no burn it and start again and get it
spot on. That is my process, that is what I do, that is how I come up with.....
KM: Was he dumbfounded that he had a few people like you that could do
this? Being a teacher is one thing, but having good students who really get it is
Totally, I have taught at UTS for three years now and I haven't met one that
will make it as a furniture designer
Where does a design come from?... It has always been a weird one I have
always had my eye on the fashion even from a really young age and I always
hung around a bunch of mates that simply didn't.
KM: In Australia we are taught to be middle of the road, we are not taught to
be great because as soon as we get to great everyone shits all over us. When
did that little touch of reality hit you?
Yeah when I started to teach definitely. When I noticed that one-year had gone
through and thought all these people are hopeless
KM: They want to do this design but they don't know what it means?
Yeah, they have just spent three years at university studying design and they
simply can not get it.
KM: Are you a teacher full time? Is that your gig?
No, one day a week.
KM: And that is it?
For money making? No then I go an upholster for 3 days a week.
KM: So you do a menial job just to get the money to ...
…money to make design. I simply make it put it in the bank and pay for
materials - that is what I do. I watch all my mates go and buy blocks of land
and flash cars, and go on holidays, I stay in the shed and make stuff, and they
look at me and shake their heads.
KM: What was the inspiration for something like this?
I set myself a brief, to design a chaise using one sheet of material - I sheet of
man-made 25 mm or any thickness but one sheet. I was inspired to make
something that was totally original, something that the world have never seen
before - the world, not just a faction of Sydney
KM: Not just the Eastern suburbs...
Why hasn't anyone in the world never ever, stacked a stool to make a storage
unit? I can stack 10 of those up and they look good, they look really good as a
stack of, they are not.... you could use one to sit on or one as a bedside table
but they are really meant to go.......
Furniture is my medium that is my lifeblood. I am a furniture maker.
KM: You have a feeling for that in other words?
Yeah, there were a lot of sons in our extended family that could have done
upholstery or furniture making but I was the only one that really wanted it. My
dad said you are not going to come to the family business I did that, look
where I am....I begged him, I begged him to go.
I kind of had this little stint after my upholstery trade course, I though Oh I will
make and design some furniture- I made a couple of lounges, I chucked them
in the back of my Ute, drove up here, I had always driven past Anibou and
thought wow, look at this showroom, so I pulled up in my Ute (country boy)
said Hey I've got some furniture you have to check this out. And she said “oh
well” and we’re just going …
So I've gone out to the Ute I put it on my head and walked it in and sat it on
the floor, this big bloody lounge suite and she was polite and said a couple
more years and come back and see us.
Because I had hair and then I lost my hair she didn't make the connection who
I was, so I had to tell her. She took the stack stool… finally I am in the Anibou
showroom floor and I told her and we’ve been laughing about it ever since.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Jon Goulder, Goulder Design, Sydney