From Australia to London and back again, Tasmanian born Brodie Neill’s celebrated homecoming featuring Tasmanian timbers
Last speaking to Tasmanian born furniture designer maker Brodie Neill following his exhibit of the highly talked about ReCoil table at London Craft Week in late 2021, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Neill again at Melbourne Design Week.
Exhibiting the stunning design and craft of the ReCoil table, Neill also brought along the Atlas Table, a piece derived from his self-designed and self-produced furniture brand, Made in Ratio. While the look and design of both ReCoil and Atlas couldn’t be more different, they both have one thing in common. The tables have been crafted from the beloved reclaimed resource pulled from a remote lake in Tasmania’s wild west; Hydrowood.
Using reclaimed and recycled materials is a hallmark of Brodie’s work, so when it comes to his choice of timber, Hydrowood is a perfect fit.
“I was attracted to Hydrowood because of the amazing story. It’s a timber that is coming back from the dead and has an amazing story of survival after being under water. Not just that, the material itself has these amazing tones because of the tannins of the water and there’s a beautiful spectrum of Tasmanian Timbers,” says Neill.
The right material for the right design
Having produced several in-production, commissioned and limited-edition pieces made from varying materials, when it comes to using timber, Neill says it’s essential to look at the sustainability of a material holistically.
“It’s important to use the right material for the right design and to make sure that the material is fit for purpose and fit for longevity,” says Neill.
“It’s important in design to use local materials, but obviously to use them in a respectful manner. There are so many fantastic Tasmanian timbers that can be used for architecture, furniture, interiors, etc. that help celebrate natural materials and give a greater sense of place.”
“When you’ve got these natural materials in your hand, there’s a great deal of responsibility. These materials have taken hundreds, thousands of years to develop and grow so it’s very important to acknowledge that, and what you’re about to embark on really needs to celebrate that,” says Neill.
To make the ReCoil table, thin strips of Tasmanian Oak, Blackwood, Celery Top Pine, Huon Pine and Sassafras veneer were carefully coiled together to form an oval shaped table. Despite being granted a new life after decades under water, Neill says the timbers still performed beautifully.
“[The species] react differently in their malleability and application. It was really important to find a method that would be respectful to all the different characteristics of the Hydrowood species to be built as one,” says Neill.
Lured in by the tightly coiled design of ReCoil, Neill says principles of biophilic design could be factored into the public’s fondness for the table.
“People are drawn into ReCoil. It’s got these spiraling circles and the void in the middle combined with its beauty and tactility, it’s pretty irresistible to touch it. There’s a real and natural synergy between ourselves and natural materials,” says Neill.
A showcase of Australian design
Calling London home for the last few decades, the Tasmanian born designer says showcasing his work back in his home country has been a homecoming.
“It’s fantastic to have the ReCoil table here and be alongside some fantastic Tasmanian design creatives under the Design Tasmania banner and it’s been a fantastic showcase of what the island has, not only to Australia, but to an international audience,” says Neill.
With Melbourne Design Week now wrapped up, you can find Neill’s next exhibition in London in early May and at Milan Design week in early June or follow him on social at @brodieneill.
Original Thinkers Podcast
Listen to our conversation with Brodie during Melbourne Design Week 2022: