Culture + Events: Tomek Archer from Van She on Sydney Design 09

The Interview:

Tomek Archer from Van She about Sydney Design 09

What is the connection between art and music? It’s a question that has been debated by writers and poets and painters throughout the ages although for Van She drummer Tomek Archer it is a more personal concern. Not only does he provide the beats behind tracks such as ‘Stranger’ and ‘Kelly’ but Archer is also leading the next wave of Young Australian Designers, and is one of the designers featured in ‘Workshopped’ at Sydney Design09 running from August 1st till August 19th at The Powerhouse Museum.

Music Feeds caught up with Tomek as he was working on completing his piece for Sydney Design.

Music Feeds: We’re familiar with your work as drummer for Van She, but not as a designer. How would you describe Tomek the designer?

Tomek Archer: I’m interested in where tectonics meet technology. So it’s pretty much the same story but in a different medium.

MF: Can you describe your design piece (below) that is being exhibited in the Workshopped 09?

TA: PegLeg uses a simple but innovative connection detail that connects each leg to the top without the need for fixings, glues or screws. It creates a range of solid timber tables and stools that can be flat packed for shipping and assembled at destination. PegLeg develops the familiar vernacular of solid timber furniture by combining it with computer controlled industrial technology in production to make a system that while seemingly familiar, could not have been made before.

MF: What is the inspiration behind the piece?

TA: I’m interested in the potential of timber as a renewable industrial material, rather than just as a bespoke craftsman’s material. I wanted to make a simple high quality flat pack system using solid timber only that was efficient to produce and export.

MF: A lot of problems designers have is when to stop working on a piece, how do you tell one a piece is finished?

TA: Depends what you set out to do but for much of my work I assume that old saying; “a design should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

MF: What are the major issues with being a designer in Sydney.

TA: The sector of the industry striving for innovation is so small you could write most the important contacts you’ll need on the back of your hand.

MF: What advice would you provide to such designers?

TA: Be consistent in what you’re doing until you master it. Ignore trends.

MF: There seems to be a lot of disconnection between a designers finished product and knowing how to market that product. What is your view on this?

TA: A designer doesn’t need to be able to market their product beyond getting it seen by the right people. But the designer themselves needs to be marketable if they want a manufacturer to be interested….

MF: What kind of role do you see the Internet playing in designers? Prohibitive or aiding?

TA: It is another way of getting things out there. Depends who you are targeting. The serious A+R guys from international manufacturers still like to meet face to face.

MF: What impact do you think the Sydney Design festival have or will have on the scene in Sydney?

TA: I’m not sure. Hopefully it brings together some good people who get inspired and make good work here in Australia.

MF: Do you prefer to work collaboratively or independently?

TA: To take a product to market is always going to be a collaborative effort between designer, suppliers and distributors.

MF: Art and literature have influenced each other through the centuries, how do you see design and music being influenced/not influenced by each other.

TA: It’s an interesting question because it’s often claimed but clearly the relationship here is between possibly the most tangible medium and music, which is untouchable. So the link is more tenuous… For me it’s the potential for music and objects to be either really good or really horrible that makes them inspiring mediums. But whether they influence each other? I dunno…. You can write essays on the similarities of approach or the similarities of lifestyle but you might have trouble translating a great chair into a great melody.

MF: Do you feel that the process of a design from start to finish is similar to a process of writing a song?

TA: Absolutely. Sometimes you can work on it for months and it’s like pulling teeth and won’t work. Sometimes it’s finished in a day and no additions could improve it…

MF: What/Who inspires you to create?

TA: Travelling. The combination of idle time and supersize machines, different cultures and contradictions.

MF: So what is the next project that you are working on?

TA: A new Van She record.



Make sure you check out all the events, talks, workshops and markets surrounding Sydney Design 09

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