Two decades after being founded by a pair of just-graduated RMIT industrial-design students, Melbourne’s award-winning ISM Objects is a powerful example of how to sidestep the rah-rah of the elite design world and concentrate on producing inspired, enduring products.
Its latest initiative is a new retail space in St Kilda that also operates as an exhibition space for the high-end lighting and industrial design prototypes by others in the field.
Called Black Ink @ ISM, the space will have six-weekly revolving shows featuring elites such as Tate Anson, whose Milan 2012 Tryst stool is about to arrive.
As a designer brand in its own right, ISM Objects, headed by founders Celina Clarke and Simon Christopher, has a folio of award-winning lighting and other product designs, many of which remain in production.
”We have started experiencing people bringing in earlier designs, such as the Fab lamp [from 1992], asking if we can repair them after their long use, which is great,” Clarke says. ”After that period of time, it’s really nice to know that people don’t want to throw them out; they want a fresh shade.”
A hallmark of the business has always been its outside edge of innovation: its first product was a self-assembled medium-size cardboard drawer unit in 1990.
It has a penchant for employing non-traditional but compliant materials (its Madame Ruby light, collected by New York’s Museum of Modern Art, was made from the brilliantly coloured cullets of recycled car lights).
It has also fostered emerging talent through its 10-year-old ISM Sparks program.
Perhaps most distinctive, the company has its own production facilities in Moorabbin, assembling its own products via Melbourne-based manufacturing. The standards are exacting. It also manufactures for other high-enders, such as Bernabei Freeman.
”Having our own facilities means we can customise much more easily [the brand’s ranges often come with multiple colour options] and have short lead times from order to delivery,” Christopher says. ”We have the ability to change things, and offering a palette of choice is a real advantage. It’s a big trend; people like to individualise.”
The business partners are not nonchalant about their industry but they have certainly honed the skill of avoiding its glamour – Christopher prefers to read agricultural magazines to design tomes.
The Black Ink @ ISM program involves the ”Black Box”, a room with black glass walls and a window to the street – a canvas that has featured objects such as Bernabei Freeman’s stunning Stitch prototypes, the design of which mimics traditional feminine crafts, such as needlepoint, lace-making and embroidery.
”I think it’s an avenue to explore beyond what we put into our everyday retail range,” Christopher says. ”It is also about presenting it in a way that engages with the public and other people in talking about new ideas and discussing design concepts.”
Keith Melbourne’s Glass lights, which are about to released as a retail range by ISM, have also featured in the Box. The range comes in Cognac, Crystal and Latte.
The space is one of the stops for the recently launched luxury Voyager perfumed candle range created by Kerrie Golias. Her scents – packaged in design-savvy glasses and boxes in sync with ISM’s aesthetic – are inspired by famous gardens, such as the Isle of Capri’s Gardens of Augustus.
”We really wanted to instil a bit of a studio feel,” Christopher says.ismobjects苏州美甲学校.au
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