Powerhouse Castle Hill Commission

Powerhouse Castle Hill Commission

In 2023, design consultant Emma Elizabeth worked with Powerhouse to commission a series of bespoke furniture for the collaboration space in the new Building J at Castle Hill. The project showcases the works of eight innovative Australian designers.

Elizabeth tasked each designer to reinterpret one of their past creations for the new space and its surroundings – using spotted gum as a primary material. Andrew Yee spoke with Elizabeth and the designers about their approaches to the project.



Andrew Yee from Powerhouse spoke with Hardiman and Lynch about incorporating play into the design process and the importance of working with local businesses.

Andrew Yee What were your initial thoughts when presented with the opportunity to design a chair for the new building at Powerhouse Castle Hill?

Dowel Jones To rethink a pre-existing piece in a site-specific timber was an amazing opportunity, along with joining other Australian designers within the collection.

AY There is an element of play in all your works. How do you introduce experimentation into the design and production process?

DJ I think because we founded the brand on play and experimentation it’s always been a part of what we do, even after nine years. As we know the Australian-made manufacturing processes, we understand what we can do throughout the design and production processes. We can rapidly iterate variations of products and understand how they’ll be made. We didn’t really work for other furniture brands prior to founding Dowel Jones, so the only process we know is the one we lead now.

AY A vital project element was incorporating the spotted gum, which is endemic to the Caste Hill area. What was it like to use this material and did it present any challenges?

DJ As we work on custom projects frequently, working with spotted gum felt natural. We’ve always produced our timber products in house, so the timber team has a huge wealth of knowledge.

AY Why is it essential for you to source production locally in Geelong?

DJ We founded Dowel Jones with the intention to produce contemporary Australian-made pieces and after nine years this is still our aim. We believe it’s possible to still produce Australian-made products so long as you’re working within the constraints of what's feasible. We work with manufacturers like they are collaborators rather than suppliers.

AY What does it mean to you as Australian designers to have work commissioned by Powerhouse?

DJ It’s meaningful to us that we produced a chair for this project alongside many other Australian designers we respect and admire. We’ve long worked with galleries and institutions in Melbourne, so it’s wonderful to be included in the collection at Powerhouse Museum!



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