Justin Hutchinson is a man of many projects. A trained industrial designer, he’s worked in-house for brands like Tait, conceptualised the Urban Commons outdoor planter boxes, set up his individual consultancy and designed a number of community-based projects. But it’s his latest project, the new Australian furniture design studio Kett Studio that may be the culmination of all these individual experiences.
Produced through leading Australian outdoor furniture retailer Cosh Living, Kett Studio is a return to locally-inspired, handcrafted furniture. While it draws from uniquely Australian influences, the production spans globally thanks to Cosh Living’s industry relationships and a passion to partner with the leading artisans in their fields worldwide.
After a knockout debut at Denfair 2017 last month, we sat down with Justin at the Kett Studio design headquarters to explore the journey in bringing the brand to life, collaborating with Cosh Living and celebrating craftsmanship in contemporary design.
Produced in partnership with Cosh Living
The opportunity to collaborate with Cosh Living on the development of Kett Studio was timely for Hutchinson on both a professional and personal level. “Having my first child was a big turning point in my life, where I was living in an apartment and realising the disconnect between more urbanised spaces and the ability to relate to the natural environment” says Hutchinson. Just as Urban Commons was inspired by the lack of spaces for inner-city residents to grow their own food, Kett Studio has been inspired by (and in our opinion, beautifully celebrates) the raw and rugged natural Australian landscape, while also inviting the audience to consider the craftsmanship of furniture production.
While the collection is positioned in the mid to high residential space, there is an unfussiness to Kett Studio that is both refreshing in a high-end design environment and, dare we say it, a distinctly Australian sensibility. It’s refined yet relatable, easy yet elegant.
For Hutchinson, the design approach reflects a return to simple, multipurpose spaces in the home. “People are looking for spaces that just naturally work well, that’s reflected in the furnishings and the different types of materials they use. We wanted to create spaces that people feel comfortable in, anchor spaces within the home that bring people together – grounded in the colour, the tones, the lighting, everything that’s critical to seeing the overall experience.”
The collaboration process with Cosh Living has also been pivotal in developing a collection that speaks to the contemporary Australian lifestyle. “(Cosh Living Directors) Shane and Colin are both heavily involved in the process and have an incredible appreciation and enthusiasm for the product they have in their showroom” says Hutchinson. “They’ve got an incredibly intricate understanding of what type of pieces resonate with their current space, that’s really invaluable in terms of the design studio projects.”
If the guiding inspiration for Kett Studio is local, its production process is a global undertaking – though as Hutchinson points out, this is nothing new for Australian manufacturing. “If you think about the Australian story, it’s not one of solely local production. We’ve always imported our furniture from different ports and places, and for Kett that meant we’ve set about trying to find the best people that can produce the best quality product. It’s a great way to work.”
From chairs made in the Friuli region of Italy, to teak and weaving sourced from Indonesia, and to upholstery and steel works made in Melbourne, this is a collection that truly reflects a celebration of craftsmanship. Says Hutchinson “We love the heritage of craftsmanship that existed 100 years ago, and we’re trying to realise that in a modern approach, where the heritage of our parts is reflected in our furniture.”