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The New Volumes collection in elba stone.

According to Melbourne-based designer and creative director Thomas Coward, 'Australia's design industry has matured to an exciting point where we can really start to innovate and it will be supported nationally and internationally.'

Coward, who is the brains behind Artedomus’ New Volumes collection, has brought together a pool of leading local talent to work in a material not often seen in the portfolios of our furniture and object designers. Elba stone, an extremely strong and durable white stone, can only be sourced from a single quarry in Greece, and generally is imported in slabs measuring around 20mm thick.

Thomas Coward's Hurlysi table showcases Elba stones superior strength.

In the case of New Volumes, each piece was carved from large blocks in Greece, meaning the limitations of size were really not a challenge. An example of the stone’s superior qualities is Coward’s own Hurlysi table, carved from a single piece – the cantilevered top would easily break if made in a lesser quality stone.

The strength of the stone doesn’t mean it lacks anything when it comes to finer details, as made evident through Ross Gardam’s Hemera table lamp where the stone acts as both the form and the light's diffuser. Even in Nick Rennie’s monumental Wyrie table, the details are exquisite.

The collection is deliberately diverse, as Coward points out, 'Each designer was given an open brief to design a specific typology. There was scope for negotiation, but we couldn’t have 10 coffee tables.' The type and scale of pieces range from large dining tables down to a mortar and pestle, and despite their differences in aesthetic and function, they are brought together as sculptural expressions using one single material.

The Hemera table lamp Ross Gardam

'The most fascinating aspect of the project to me was being exposed to each designer’s creative process,' Coward adds. 'They all responded to the opportunity and brief in very different ways. I wanted designers from different backgrounds, genders and disciplines but most importantly the designers were selected for their aesthetic sensitivity.'

The results are seemingly timeless, helped by the elba’s elegant and natural appearance. It is one of Artedomus’ most popular stones, which can be specified in kitchens or bathrooms, and has also been used in their Artesserae mosaic collection released in 2017, though this is the first true collection of product that compliments their existing range.

'I think each piece is timeless. But more importantly, and I think this is absolutely vital, I think they are interesting objects.' It is a point worth considering as Coward cites the thinking that, 'Challenging aesthetics and function is the only way to push forward and justify any exercise in production if you are not addressing issues around sustainability and the impact on our environment.'

The Wyrie table by Melbourne's Nick Rennie

Fortunately, those impacts were not a consideration in creating New Volumes as the stone production has no negative environmental impact and, with considerations around timelessness and durability, they are pieces that won’t be going back in the ground anytime soon.

While the collection speaks volumes for the breadth of talent on our shores and forms a beautiful showcase of elba stone, it also represents innovation with an augmented reality app available that lets you see what each piece will look like in a desired location. Coward understands buying a piece of design is a highly personal thing, and with that he concludes, 'What has encouraged me the most is that people seem to have a product they love and a product they really don’t like. To command that reaction shows how successful the range is to me. Trying to appeal to everyone would having us walking in the middle of the road. And that would be a disaster from my point of view.'