Adam Goodrum is a legendary local designer. Based in Sydney’s Waterloo, Adam’s impressive design credentials include numerous awards and accolades.
Adam Goodrum grew up in Western Australia then moved to Sydney to study Industrial Design. Since graduating he has received many accolades including the ‘Young Designer of the Year’ and the prestigious ‘Bombay Sapphire Design Award’. In 2015 Adam received the Indesign Luminary Award and his installation “Unfolding” won the NGV Riggs Prize.
Focusing on furniture, product and interior design his work unifies functionality with aesthetic. Central to much of Adams work is his fascination for movement, geometry and bold colour.
His practice includes an impressive list of clients including Cappellini, Alessi, Normann Copenhagen, Veuve Clicquot, Tait and Cult. Adam is also a founding member of Broached Commissions.
Adam’s work has been published and showcased throughout the world and is collected by museums.
Tell us a little about your background $ع what did you study and what path led you to what you are doing today?
I grew up in Perth in a beachside suburb. Perth of the '80s had a strong backyard making culture, every one had sheds and tinkered or fixed things. My childhood was focused on meeting up with friends and making stuff. I was building dug out bases in the sand dunes, crafting surfboard racks to battle Fremantle winds and fashioning myself leg-ropes out of Coke lids and pieces of mum!&s clothes line. I also had an early love of Lego, going in competitions as a kid. Those brightly coloured bricks and their never ending combinations fostered an early love of form and colour but also of simple mechanics.
In high school I had a fantastic art teacher and a love of mathematics. At this point I was looking to a career in fine arts, inspired by the works of Australian icons such as Brett Whiteley and John Olsen. However, I soon found out about industrial design - then a little known discipline in Perth. This seemed to unite my love of art, maths and making which had been individual pursuits until that time. I chose to study a Bachelor of Industrial Design at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and a career in product design followed.
How would you describe your work, and what influences your distinctive aesthetic?
I find it difficult to describe my own work, but with any project I endeavour to add a personality or an added function to any object I!&m designing, a product has to justify its existence.
I!&m fortunate to be working with companies like Cult and Tait who share a common philosophy and methodology. They execute at a high level, using good materials and considered craftsmenship to create products that will last a lifetime.
With some of my more artistic projects I love to include an element of surprise and I!&ve always had a fascination for bold colour.
Can you give us a little insight into the inner workings of your business and creative process? How do you manage the day-to-day side of the business, what particular jobs do you do in-house and which do you outsource?
In regards to my creative process, I!&m always working on a number of different projects so I find myself thinking about them 24/7. I!&m constantly looking for a little detail that could inspire an idea, or observing people and the way they interact with things, or trying to refine something already underway.
I don!&t have any full time staff but have a number of casuals who are fantastic and I employ when needed. Like many creative people I am more project focused and less focused on admin $ع that!&s a work in progress!
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
I start with an early coffee, then try and get some emailing out of the way. My typical studio day, (I also work at UTS) is never really the same. I seem to run around like a chook in a thunderstorm. My most enjoyable day is when I get a chance to design, or make some models to explore an idea. I have a great network of makers who I work closely with, so I spend a lot of time visiting. Most days seem to get gobbled up alarmingly quickly.
What have been one or two favourite recent projects?
One would be my Molloy Chair for Cult. Molloy is a solid timber chair composed of 8 elements that jigsaw together. Each component is individually created on a 5axis CNC (computer numerically controlled) milling machine.
The design intention was to create a chair that would compliment the Molloy table, be comfortable and would stack but not read as a stacking chair. It was important for me to create complex organic elements that would be challenging to make by hand but could exploit the technology of a 5axis CNC to make multiples.
The name Molloy is derived from Molloy Island in South Western Australia where two rivers run into one river then run in to two oceans, it is the only place in the world where this occurs. Molloy Island sits in the middle of these different directions of interconnected water. The Molloy chair components are accentuated by contrasting grain directions where they meet to become one. My father and I built a holiday house on Molloy Island so this chair is a confluence of nostalgia and concept.
Another recent project is a pair of nesting eggcups I have designed for Alessi. This was off the back of the Vogue Living design prize. I was lucky enough to visit the factory just outside of Milan earlier this year and spend a memorable and truly inspiring day with Alberto Alessi. I love the pedigree and passion of Italian design.
How did the collaborative furniture pieces you have recently been making for TAIT come about, and what can we expect to see of this latest range?
The new collection Trace takes me back to my childhood in Perth and recent times at mum and dad!&s coastal home, south of Sydney. Drenched in sunshine, we typically all gather on their deck for barbeque and beers. It!&s that inviting feeling of affection and sociability, so evocative of the Australian lifestyle, I wanted to convey with Trace.
Trace represents a new design consideration for both myself and Tait. Together, we wanted to create an outdoor collection of unconditional levels of comfort that ensconces its user in its warmth and appeal, with an aesthetic more typically associated with indoor design.
You were the winning recipient of the prestigious Rigg Design Award, can you tell us a little bit about your entry and how this award has positively impacted your career?
My Rigg Design Award entry was an installation of three transparent folding houses called !'Unfolding!(. Each flat packed house was expandable and together they showed the stages of staggered growth and unfolding of a single house. The small one was displayed flat and upright, the medium one was unfolding and the large one was open. I chose to present my practice through this conceptual installation rather than through a body of work.
Born out of a previous project where I designed an emergency cardboard folding shelter, my installation became the representation of not only my current practice, but its progression over the past twenty years. When I was starting out, my kitchen table was my studio and there I would work with paper and cardboard, experimenting with folds and articulations. As my experience grew, my practice in turn evolved and took form, developing into a varied body of work whilst retaining these early fascinations. Despite these changes I believe my practice remains grounded in the possibility and passion of my beginnings, retaining the ability to refold back to its initial state. A house is also an overarching concept in a practical sense, much of what I design belongs in a house.
I have had a long standing love of colour. The dichroic material used on the walls and roofs splits the light shone upon the houses into distinct and varied colours. This gives the structures a sense of mystery, creating an ethereal and unexpected expression in an otherwise naive form. This aspect of unexpected discovery is a thread through much of my practice, as a designer I aim to breathe life and inventiveness into everyday objects.
Needless to say, winning the award was a huge honour. I!&ve seen my practice since lead towards more artistic projects and installations in public spaces, which I very much enjoy. It has also bolstered my profile and so companies approach me more to design for them as I am more on their radar.
What has been your proudest career achievement to date?
My Stitch chair becoming part of the Cappellini collection, it was the company I most wanted to work with. Also winning the NGV Riggs Prize has been a huge honour.
What would be your dream creative project?
So many$هI would love to crack a substantial public sculpture, or design a sexy short double decker bus for Sydney!&s congested roads!