Introducing :: DesignByThem
By Kate Cole
Established in 2007 with the mission to create an Australian design brand DesignByThem aim to bring together and represent the talent of Australian designers in a collection that is a playful balance of fun and function.
Sarah Gibson and Nick Karlovasitis met whilst studying industrial design at UTS before going on to work in different sectors of the design industry. Sarah completed a year of study overseas at the Fachhochschule Hannover in Germany, and worked as a journalist and photographer for Designweek, before venturing into commercial furniture design. After graduating from UTS, Nick worked in a design consultancy, then lectured in graphic and ecodesign at UTS.
They’d always had a desire to work together, and had a shared concern for the number of Australian designers who were looking for overseas representation. Out of a desire to offer an Australian brand alternative, they founded DesignByThem in 2007. The central ethos of DBT is to represent the best of Australian design with work that is “a playful balance of fun and function”, says Karlovasitis.
During the early stages DBT focused on industrial design consulting and used that to fund the development of their products. “Like any new business it took us a while to find our feet and mistakes were made”, says Karlovasitis, “but they were good lessons and really helped shape the direction that we took in the end”.
With eight designers currently under their representation, their selection of designers is vital to creating a cohesive aesthetic. “It really comes down to whether we like their designs and approach to design” says Karlovasitis, and whether their work matches DBT’s values. The standards DBT uphold are, “that our products must be innovative but not forced”, says Karlovasitis. “They must be useful but also be enjoyable. They must be accessible, appear simple, approachable and not be over designed”.
In aid of a cohesive style Sarah and Nick act as both designers and curators. “We will often be very involved with the design” says Karlovasitis, “through meetings, collaborating on the design or providing feedback”.
DBT recently opened their first showroom and store in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Chippendale, at which they have been active in holding events such as Women in Industrial Design and FriendsOfThem. Many of DBT’s products are made locally in their workshop, while others are made all around Australia, Asia and the USA, though offer clients the choice of a locally made or overseas made version of most products.
A career highlight for DBT has been the production of the Ribs bench with Stefan Lie for the iconic Sydney Opera House. For the future, Karlovasitis says they are looking forward to “growing our awesome team, our product range and working with more designers”. In the longer term, DBT are, “aiming to increase our international presence and clientele in the USA and Asia”.