Sitting in the tiny office of Australian designer Brodie Neill, in the heart of London’s fashionably regenerated East End, he shows me an invite to a design show he is participating in, aptly name ‘SuperDesign’.
Moreover, it is an image of his work, the ‘Reverb Wire Chair’, that is pictured on the invite. If he is to be defined by the company he keeps, Brodie is in a good place. His work – bold, sculptural and inventive – more than holds its own in this context.
A Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art at the University of Tasmania was followed by a Masters degree in the United States at the Rhode Island School of Design.
“It was a time when I had a great deal of creative freedom to test and explore ideas. I was interested in three-dimensional modelling and, as they didn’t have digital design resources, I did an animation course, instead, and from that I learnt skills I still use today,” says Brodie.
The move to London followed a desire to be at the centre of a city with a strong design dynamic.
“London suits me. I always have my eyes open. I am like a sponge for architecture, fashion and popular culture. I like to challenge myself and I like to work at a fast pace,” he says.
As he takes me through his portfolio of work, what emerges is a strong, consistent signature style born of an understanding of digital design and advances in technology.
Fuse this with his training in the properties of materials and his distinctive aesthetic becomes evident. His ‘Morphie’ light (2006) for Italian manufacturer Kundalini gave him his first big commercial break, and the ‘e-turn’ bench followed in 2007.
“Friends used to see the ‘e-turn’ in all sorts of situations throughout the world – in hotels and foyers, everywhere from São Paulo to Seoul – and they would send me a photo. It was all a bit Where’s Wally.”
As well as his commercial work, he produces pieces that are sold in limited editions though The Apartment Gallery.
‘Remix’ marries different wood types and plastics in a contoured, organic form. He has made six and will only ever produce 10. Already, they are traded as collector’s items.
While being sought out by Alexander McQueen’s office to provide furniture for their New York showings in 2009 and having his aluminium ‘@ Chair’ named in TIME magazine’s Top 100 Designs of 2008 are career highlights, one senses that there is still a long way to go for the talented Mr Neill.
The Australian distributor is Core Furniture.