3 emerging Australian lighting designers to watch

The up-and-coming names you need to know

Australian design has never been hotter, with talented new names emerging every day.

One of the oldest organisations to support and promote new design and craftsmanship is JamFactory in Adelaide. Its purpose-built studios for ceramics, glass, furniture and metal design provides skills training for artists and designers through the two-year Associate Training Program. 

Lighting design has been particularly strong in recent years. We’ve identified three key designers to watch.

1. Matt Potter

Matt Potter pendant lights
Matt Potter’s Habere pendant lights

First year Furniture Studio Associate Matt Potter was the recent winner of the 2017 VIVID Design Colour Award with his ceramic pendant, Habere Light. Habere draws inspiration in equal parts from both organic form and the digitally engineered. Matt started with the exploration of a conceptual theme and employed process-driven research to create Habere. You can view more of Matt’s work at Minutia Design

2. Rhys Cooper 

Rhys Cooper pendant lighting
Rhys Cooper’s Spokes collection of pendant lighting

Establishing his studio in 2016, Rhys utilises a range of high quality materials and processes working with local Australian industry. Rhys is driven to create dynamic and original work that is a harmonious balance between artistic integrity and producibility. Rhys’ collection of sculptural wire pendant lights are available to buy here

3. Dean Toepfer 

Dean Toepfer's pendant lighting
Dean Toepfer’s Rebel futurism collection

With an extensive creative background, Dean Toepfer completed the Associated Degree of Furniture Design at RMIT in 2015. On graduating his degree at RMIT he was awarded the Erik Romke award for demonstrating a high level of academic capabilities, strong leadership skills and work showing outstanding qualities and complexities. At the end of 2016 Dean was offered a two year Associate position at the JamFactory. Dean’s lighting is currently made to order via his website. You can find his latest lighting pieces here.

We sat down with designer Matt Potter to discuss his design practice in more detail.

When did you first design a light?

Although I have been working in the design industry for just under 10 years, I only recently designed my first light – the Habere pendant light.

Prior to starting my own design practice, Minutia Design, I was working professionally as an Industrial Designer. I was designing products for other businesses whereas now I primarily work on self-motivated briefs with the aim of establishing my own line of products.

Who or what inspires you (or makes you jump out of bed in the morning)?

My three-month-old Vizsla puppy makes sure that I’m jumping out of bed early at the moment.

The most inspiring and challenging paradoxes about being a designer is simultaneously playing the role of the artist and the pragmatist. I love the act of creation, problem solving and resolving the finer details. This involves drawing on knowledge and understanding, which informs the refinement of the varying design elements, while working within the constraints that are relevant to the project.

I get a great personal thrill at the end of this process when I see a fully realised concept being enjoyed by someone else.

What are you working on now that we can look forward to?

Sometimes I feel there are too many things that I would like to be working on and find there is never enough time. However I am working on some new lighting and furniture pieces that will be part of a larger range that I intend to launch in 2019. I also have been working on developing a few small homewares pieces that I can get into the market a bit sooner.

How did working with the JamFactory shape your practice?

Working in an environment with such an eclectic mix of craftspeople and designers, who come from varying backgrounds and bring with them a great breadth of experience, is very stimulating. Being at the JamFactory has opened up the opportunity for me to collaborate and share ideas with other designers as well as being exposed to other materials and processes that I otherwise would not have.

Before the Habere pendant I hadn’t ever worked with ceramics. Although I am in the furniture studio at JamFactory, the staff and fellow associates in the ceramics studio were extremely helpful in guiding me through the ceramic production process. I couldn’t have done it without them.

View more of Matt’s work at Minutia Design, or for more inspirational lighting, click here.

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