Objecthood: DANIEL EMMA

We talk to Daniel To and Emma Aiston, founders of design studio DANIEL EMMA and creative directors of JamFactory, Adelaide.

 Daniel To and Emma Aiston in their studio. Courtesy: DANIEL EMMA.

How did you both come to be designers and where did your interest in design come from?

We have always been day dreamers and are both from hard working families with no interest in design. At school we enjoyed art and stumbled upon industrial design as a university course. Before we met, we both liked things and were avid collectors of stuff so together we have introduced each other to different objects, experiences and people that have led us to be the designers we are now.

How did DANIEL EMMA begin?

We met while studying industrial design at the University of South Australia, Adelaide. After graduating in 2008 we both moved to London where we lived and worked for two years for various design firms such as Thorsten Van Elten, Committee and Marc Newson. It was after this experience, and just before we came back home to Adelaide, that we decided on the harebrained idea of starting our own studio.

DANIEL EMMA designs meet at the intersection between unexpectedness and simplicity. Can you tell us about the underpinnings of this ethos? 

As designers we like things to be neat and tidy with a hierarchy of focus. So, if we are designing a chair, we try to only change one component of the archetype, whether that is form, material or material combination. In the end we want to create products that bring joy to everyday rituals. When people view our work we want them to simply think, ‘hey that’s nice’. Our products aim to be approachable but have a uniqueness applied to them which is brought about by the combination of our brains working together.

What has been your most rewarding design project?

In some ways every project is just as rewarding as any other. We have been fortunate in that as our careers have progressed we have been presented with different opportunities to design an array of things so have not been typecast in any way. If we had to pick two designs we are most proud of they would be Home and Pack-uh-jing. Home was a presentation with the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne as part of the Rigg Design Prize. This project allowed us to summarise all of our projects in a one room as well as explore new typologies. Pack-uh-jing was an exhibition with Hugo Michell Gallery in Adelaide, where we were able to develop 16 study models based around our favourite product packaging, from tennis balls to fruit.

Do you have a collection of art/designed products in your own homes? 

We have a lot of things… We are both very sentimental and nostalgic people. Our collection includes things such as food packaging, design classics, artwork from friends etc. – it’s a real mix. 

Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon? 

We have a show with Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne as part of Melbourne Design Week next year, a product coming out with Areaware, a project with a new Australian business in a material that we have never worked in as well as launching a new side project based on life outdoors. It will be a busy year!

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