If there is one material that narrates earthy tales through sheer simplicity and can weave together time-honoured art forms and contemporary design, it is terracotta. The fundamentally pure material derived from fire and clay has been used in homes and clay art as far back as 24,000 BC and yet effortlessly blends into the current aesthetic. Driven by curiosity and a desire to unearth the design potentials of this timeless, natural material in a modern context, Artedomus, Australia's leading supplier of interior and exterior finishes, has unveiled Collection 02. This second iteration of the New Volumes Collection series is an eight-piece ensemble of furniture, homeware and lighting designs. Actualised by a diverse group of Australian designers and creatives, it challenges our presumptions about a product we are intimately familiar with. “As a designer, terracotta is a material that I find endlessly inspiring,” says Thomas Coward, Creative Director of New Volumes. “It was possibly the first manufactured material in the world, and here we are, thousands of years later, and it is enjoying another design resurgence,” he adds.
New Volumes was conceived by Thomas Coward, a furniture designer whose work also traverses the disciplines of product design and interior design. He has also designed pieces for both iterations of the series. The debut 12-piece collection launched in 2018 was an exploration of the potential of Elba stone. Each designer contributing to the New Volumes Collection 02 creates a unique furniture, lighting or homeware piece that steps away from what is deemed possible for terracotta in terms of function and form while speaking of a contemporary way of life. “From established names to exciting new faces, all possess a fiercely individual approach and style and have taken to the material with gusto. We are very proud of our stories ‘made from the mud’,” shares Coward.
The collection encompasses a discrete array of homewares, all crafted to fulfil different purposes. Earth Wirri, a sculptural vessel by Sydney-based designer Lucy Simpson, draws inspiration from intricately sculpted bark coolamons and water carriers and celebrates the elegance ingrained within First Nations design. Melbourne-based designer Chris Connell breathes life into Skáfos, which includes an umbrella holder evocative of the ribbed oil and water jars of Greece, a smaller vase version and a fruit platter with a ribbed base–all exhibiting a congruous meandering silhouette. Sol, a sinuous vase and incense holder that evolved with the awe-inspiring shapes of flowers as a muse, is conceived by artist and object maker Hattie Molloy.
The sense of growth and renewal in the post-Covid world finds an artistic culmination through Harvest. Created by artist and stylist Megan Morton, the tabletop sprout planter is a multifunctional five-piece modular design. Devising the sole lighting design for the collection is furniture and lighting designer Kate Stokes with Pinch, a minimal and elongated wall light executed in two lengths. The shield-like form bisected by a sharp line spotlights the materiality of the terracotta by allowing light to fall differently on each side.
Collection 02 also exhibits furniture designs fabricated from terracotta, a capacity of the striking material that is untapped more often than not. Pitcher, a set showcasing a table design and a stool design, is created by Australian industrial designer Adam Goodrum in an effort to epitomise the purity of geometry and mathematical balance, and capture the peculiarity of terracotta fabrication. Thomas Coward, the creative lead, adds the Echo side table and coffee table to the earthy troupe. The robust terracotta tables feature a revolving carousel of voids, a contemporary exploration of classical forms, honouring the legacy of the material. Meanwhile, his Cove chair design is a coastal formation of two negative shapes placed on top of each other–one that lifts and one that supports.
“We can throw, cast, and extrude it to our needs and no matter what we do, we cannot alter its nature,” says Coward. “The purity and timeless relevance of terracotta made it a natural choice for the focus of our second collection,” he adds. The widely utilised terracotta introduces an irreplaceable warmth and tactility in any space with its distinctive materiality and singular colour. Artedomus’s innovative experiments with materials not only push the boundaries of architectural materials but also reinforce its place in the forefront of design, importing and developing exemplary stone, tiles, architectural surfaces, bathware and furniture. New Volumes Collection 02 is an ode to a material rich in history and culture, a material that persevered through the centuries and now calls for a contemporary revival of a rustic métier.