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  • Writer's pictureJames Treble

Australian Design: Dean Norton

Dean Norton is a Melbourne based design studio producing locally made products whose ethos is to explore form through design that is authentic and considered, with a high level of attention to detail. Despite their young history these tables provide a strong design statement with iconic appeal.

Always interested and inspired by the many forms of art and design, Dean originally studied Graphic Design before beginning his journey as an interior designer. "I did my degree in Retail Interior Architecture at the London College of Arts and have been working as an interior designer / architect for 11 years. Last year I launched my first furniture collection called Moodlum."

Tell us about your design.

"I like to think of my designs as pieces of art as well as functional objects. I love exploring shape and form using traditional techniques. Minimalist with attention to detail, simplistic in form and finish. I also work on custom finishes of my designs for my clients and interior projects."

"I take inspiration from many forms of art & design, whether it be architecture, contemporary art or fashion. I spend a lot of time in galleries, here in Melbourne and when I travel. Inspiration and ideas come when I’m travelling or out of my usual work environment, it gives me the time to focus on my thoughts and just day dream I guess. During this time I make notes and sketch my ideas as they come. I’m also slightly obsessed with fashion documentaries and art books."

Dulux Colour Forecast 2019 - Styling: Bree Leech, Photo: Lisa Cohen

So, what's the process, when creating something new

"I refer back to notes, sketches, I gather a heap of imagery and materials... oh, and a good playlist... I find music really helps me block everything else out and get really focused and inspired. I fill my studio with all my research for a particular project and work my way through from there. A lot of ideas get cropped along the way and once I’ve really narrowed down/refined the concept, I then work on fine tuning the detail and technical side things. I use a mix of sketching, model making and CAD during this process."

Do you have a favourite material you work with?

"At the moment I’m exploring form with spun metals. I love natural materials like stone and wood. I’m also drawn to reflective surfaces, I love how they add another dimension to design."

How do you realise your designs?

"My current designs are made by a number of makers in Melbourne, from steel fabricators and spinners to carpenters. I’ve been fortunate to find some truly skilled craftsman who help me bring my designs to life. I’m currently working on a new collection that I will make from my studio in Melbourne and hope to launch later this year."

Do you see the Australian design industry as strong?

"Absolutely. The Australian design industry is as strong as it is exciting, current and ever evolving. Influenced by its native landscapes and a multi-cultural population, I believe it is diverse in skill and knowledge. Australia is a nation of talented designers and makers who embrace and value local resources, both in material and craft."

Is there a recipe for 'good design'?

"Being passionate in what you're working on will show in the finished result. It's subjective however, I believe that function, considered form, refined detailing, and harmony in materials make for good design. If it makes you feel good and connects with you on an emotional level, then it’s good design."

Aside from interior and furniture design, Dean also collaborates with a friend creating street art installations. "We are called Justa Splash and create murals across suburbs of Melbourne and have also commissioned artworks for local galleries and design studios. Currently we are working on a collaboration with a Melbourne based furniture supplier."

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has 3 decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to homes through clever design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.


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