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  • Writer's pictureJames Treble

Australian Design: Barbera Design

Many times I've had the chance to stop & admire objects of design, it's my job, but I'm not always totally taken back like I was when first I saw these stunning bronze tables! Daniel the designer, describes his learning as completing "a childhood apprentice tinkering in my fathers workshop". He went on to study Industrial Design at Monash University, then working at MAP and Chris Connell, before founding Barbera Design in 2004. Based in Melbourne, Barbera designs and manufactures furniture for commercial as well as high-end residential properties, also working closely with Interior Designers.

Daniel Barbera describes their style of furniture as "classics, made using technology while also utilising old craft techniques. Furniture that feels lost in time. Contemporary." And as they sport quite a vaste range of items, varying in both material and style I wanted to know more.

What inspires you?

"I love how nature can evolve a structure to reveal only what it needs, so definitely the natural world, but I love physics and understanding engineering structures and principles...

I often work from two directions, thinking about the end user, and what they want out of a product, while I think about what materials are going to perform the best, while also thinking about the economics of the piece. Once I have a rough brief or design structure, I can start creating a form that is guided heavily by the material choices."

All Images courtesy of

The favourite material you work with?

"It's bronze. but what is there not to love about any natural material, especially if it's been used by our ancestors for the last few thousand years... so I love cast metals, natural stone leather and timber. That is my staple."

Do you make your items yourself,

"Very rarely these days do I build the pieces myself. I still love trying to get my hands dirty, but I am lucky to have a good team of technicians around me, creating all these pieces in Melbourne."

Do you connect with other Australian designers?

"Yes, I certainly don't get to go to events like I use to, but over the past 15 years, I have formed many friendships with other local designers."

And finally, my favourite question: what defines Good Design?

"In my opinion, honesty. It's trying not to be something else, not trying to pretend to be a different material... it's not pretending to perform better than it does, it's not a design that favours the aesthetic over its use. To understand good design, one must know what is the intent of the object. I think ‘good design‘ is easier to define by knowing what it's not, not what it is..."

The honesty in their design make Barbera's items highly desirable, with some of them stepping beyond, from just being furniture and becoming collector's pieces. Barbera's design will be on show next year at ICFF [North America’s International platform for luxury design] in New York, which is very exciting for this Australian design story, and worth checking out if you plan to be there for the 2019 NYCxDesign. Until then discover more about their work at or in person, their studio is in Reservoir, Melbourne, or you can find them at Catapult Store in Ultimo, Sydney.

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has three decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to properties through effective design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.


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