In C.1994 I began studies under the tutorage of Brandon Scott, ‘Scotty’ as he was affectionately known, at Box Hill Institute’s (now BHI) Diploma in Arts (Furniture Design). I only took one year of this two-year course as I gained exemptions from the first year, having a trade certificate in furniture making, upholstery, and some studies in interior design and furniture technology.
The campus was great, a huge old red brick building that looked like it was built in the ’50s, now demolished. The rooms were small but the atmosphere was like being transported back in time to an age where industrial post war Australia was booming.
Mid-semester there was a location change to a defunct 80’s high school in the Donvale area, the rooms were spacious and the grounds were located near a creek with ample land between. Occasionally you would see a kangaroo or the odd blue-tongued lizard, the lizards were sometimes the subject of interest to Scotty’s dog.
The highlight of the year was an exhibition at the Reserve Bank of Australia foyer, where the students presented some of their year’s work. There were all sorts of things; chairs, boxes, lights, experiments as well as some really talented design and craft.
I presented an Oil Lamp. Standing 160cm tall with an oblong glass oil well, glued together, lamp oil and a floating wooden disc with a wick in the centre. This stood on top of six compact fluorescent tubes, glued together, in a verticle position (2×3). At the base was a flat glass platform that supported the fluorescent tubes. All around the area of the base, and up the tubes, were 10 to 12 conventional light bulbs, glued randomly in a sort of cone shape. The ironic thing was the electrical lights didn’t and weren’t designed to work. The light source came solely from the wick flame floating in the oil.
Sadly the glue holding together the housing for the oil chamber eventually corroded and leaked. A death trap for any unsuspecting design aficionado that may have sought to buy one.
To make things worse, the Reserve Bank’s policy of ‘no naked flames in the bank’ made any illumination out of the question …bit of a fizz really!
Perhaps somebody could have …cast some light on that before I started! I guess I was …left in the dark! Overall an …illuminating experience! I have …seen the light!
Still, I had a good time, you can interpret what you like from my design for an oil light. It remains, I could have gotten into a lot of trouble if I mass-produced them without ironing out the bugs.
In the thirty years my parents ran a furniture business I never once heard of any officials checking the legislation’s requirements of my parent’s products. We never had a discussion on legal industry standards regarding our products, other than my mother once preventing me from implementing a design improvement, due to a regressive law that stifled innovation. For some unknown reason, polyurethane foam was not allowed to be joined, period. Of the many factories I have visited and 100’s of people I have met in the industry the same silence is heard, other than in educational institutes. What can you do, Australia has very few laws when it comes to furniture design and even fewer people policing them for the bulk of the industry.
What goes on in factories is a whole new kind of nasty!