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Brodie Neill transmutes metal, ocean plastic and reclaimed timber into functional objects
Brodie Neill with Gyro Second Wave
Image: Angela Moore

Brodie Neill transmutes metal, ocean plastic and reclaimed timber into functional objects

Comprising nine new and original furniture pieces, the ‘Material Consciousness’ exhibition will draw attention to the repercussions of deforestation and related debilitating activities.

by Almas Sadique
Published on : May 09, 2022

Australian designer Brodie Neill’s latest sustainable design furniture collection, touted ‘Material Consciousness’, will soon be displayed at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Part of the designer’s long drawn aim of creating useful objects out of ocean waste, the collection comprises nine pieces that, apart from delivering the important message of sustainable practices, also adds to the designer’s roster of consciously driven creations. “Material Consciousness represents the convergence of over a decade of design research into material circularity and the redefining of waste. It’s an honour to have Sotheby’s select my work not only for its aesthetic merit but for the environmental issues it addresses,” says Neill about his latest furniture collection which will remain on display from 6 May to 19 May 2022 as part of Sotheby’s ongoing Design series.

The increased focus on sustainable practices in recent years has also been accompanied by innovative creations that, apart from facilitating the usage of waste materials and discarded products, also pose as innovative ways of processing and arranging these materials into aesthetically sound creations. “What is captivating about Brodie’s work is his creation of beautifully crafted designs realised through the development of innovative processes. From salvaging, transforming and ennobling abandoned materials to plastic waste, recyclable metal and reclaimed wood. His equal attention to form, material and process is clearly revealed in the impressive works he produces, which never compromise on functionality,” says Elena Checci, Specialist - 20th Century Design at Sotheby’s London.

Torso Image: Angela Moore

Brodie Neill is a furniture designer based in London, UK. He crafts everyday objects and furniture pieces with a special focus on their materiality and sustainability. Ellipses, arcs and soft corners characterise most of the pieces designed by the Australian native. Several of Neill’s designs, like E-Turn, @Chair, Threefold and Pop also reference the mobius strip. Defined by clean lines and curves, his tables, chairs and collectable pieces always induce a sense of comfort and softness through their organic forms, smooth textures and absence of sharp rectilinear edges. He has, over the span of his 17-year career, not only worked with international brands like Swarovski and Microsoft but has also exhibited his works in various international galleries and events like the London Design Biennale and Melbourne Design Week.

Close-up view of Altitude Chair Image: Angela Moore

Especially dedicated to utilising ocean plastic to create usable products and objects, Neill designs all furniture pieces for Made in Ratio, a design firm founded by him in 2013. His experimentations have also led him to create an original material Ocean Terrazzo out of plastic decanted from oceans. “Plastic is a material built to last yet carelessly discarded after a single use. My aim is to recapture that material potential with each piece of microplastic forming the building blocks to a better future, where each coloured fragment forms a pixel to the bigger picture,” explains Neill.

Flotsam Coffee Table Image: Angela Moore

‘Material Consciousness’ attempts to address similar themes and ideas through several new furniture pieces that are made out reclaimed materials and are, thus, sustainable. Through the title chosen for the collection and the exhibition and the exhibits that will soon be displayed at the premier art and design location, audiences will be pushed to consciously think about matters pertaining to sustainability.

Planned as an exhibition focused on the re-use of three different materials, namely ocean plastic, reclaimed timber and circular metals, the event will draw attention to the complex issues that are born due to waste and the finity of resources that are available for us. By displaying an array of objects that mimic the physical forms of utilitarian items that adorn our households, the exhibition will present a better understanding of the potential that circular design poses.

Jetsam dining table Image: Angela Moore
Gyro Second Wave Image: Angela Moore

Ocean Terrazzo, an innovative and original material developed by Neill in collaboration with several scientists, researchers, artisans, engineers, environmental experts and beachcombers, and first displayed part of the Australian Pavilion at the London Design Biennale in 2016, will also make a show at the Sotheby’s exhibition. Created by processing fragments of plastic waste salvaged from oceans, it can be used to craft cohesive products that are durable. The three new limited edition pieces, Gyro Second Wave, Jetsam and Flotsam, crafted by Neill using Ocean Terrazzo properly enunciate the power of innovative designs created using recycled materials.

Gyro Second Wave, inspired by a 19th century tabletop, is a contemporary and sustainable version of the colourful creation. Here, Neill has replaced the traditional marble, timber and ivory used in the original design with Ocean Terrazzo. The resultant mandala on the circular structure appears like a poetic rendition of the universe. Jetsam, a triangular dining table and Flotsam, a low elliptical table, are both created using Ocean Terrazzo. While the former carries hints of greens, yellow and reds, the latter consists black and blue versions of the material.

Longitude Bench Image: Angela Moore

Another part of the exhibition, dedicated to showcasing the usages of upcycled timber, will present Torso, Longitude Bench and the Altitude Chair. Created using wood pieces reclaimed from demolitions and damaged bits of exotic hardwoods such as Mahogany and Panga Panga, these pieces were created by Neill to bring attention to the devastating effects that deforestation and climate change have brought upon us. While Torso comprises a set of three tables that can double up as stools or display totems, the Longitude Bench utilises the cross thatch technique and appears like a pixelated 3D object. The usage of a 60 year old hardwood floor from a school in Leicester and salvaged Rhodesian Mahogany floorboards from a hospital in Hastings to craft Torso and Longitude Bench respectively add an additional layer of heritage value to these pieces. Serving as an iteration of the Longitude Bench, the Altitude Chair utilises strips of wood pinned together with brass rivets.

Atmos Console Image: Angela Moore
@Chair by Brodie Neill Image: Angela Moore

The third corner of the exhibition will be adorned with seamless metal chairs and benches, fashioned out of recyclable metals that are already in circulation. Designed to fulfil the utilitarian purpose of seating, these stainless steel and bronze benches balance the presence of solids and voids very well. Built as sturdy structures that are durable, Atmos Desk, Atmos Console and @Chair appear as high quality sculptural pieces. The usage of the two-toned finishing technique on the Atmos bench and Atmos Console grants its inner surface the appearance of a reflective mirror surface and its outer face a satin metallic look. The classic piece @Chair showcases the designer’s early explorations and experimentations with respect to forms.

Atmos Desk Image: Angela Moore

These unpretentious and laidback designs pose an opportunity for the viewers to extend their attention towards the larger concerns that have led up to the creation of this collection.

Brodie Neill’s ‘Material Consciousness’ will remain on display from 6 May to 19 May 2022 at Sotheby’s Bond Street location and online on their website.

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