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Melbourne-based designer Nick Rennie has built an international reputation that is paying dividends at home.

Tirelessly determined, Melbourne-based designer Nick Rennie has spent years building an international career as a furniture, lighting and object designer though these days his efforts are growing roots on home soil with some exciting new collaborations. One of these is with Made By Pen, who are championing local designers to an international audience, which is a unique approach that is attracting top designers like Nick to their growing team.

As any emerging designer, Australian or otherwise, will tell you – having a piece picked up by an international manufacturer is not as easy as it may seem. In Rennie’s case, it took numerous annual visits to the Salone del Mobile in Milan, even more knock backs and some serious financial and emotional investment though now it is paying off with various collaborations and also it brings the ambitions of Nick and Made by Pen together, to showcase Australian design internationally.

With furniture for European brands such as Linge Roset, Porro, Normann Copenhagen, not to mention a Tom Waits size reputation in Japan, it is his local produce that is harnessing the spotlight with international awards and exhibitions.

Rennie's Wyrie table for New Volumes in Elba stone.

Launched at DENFAIR this July, Rennie’s Wyrie table for Artedomus’s New Volumes brand is certainly a statement piece. Made from solid Elba stone extracted from quarries in Greece, the three-legged table is one of a number of products that is planting his global reputation firmly at home.

From top to bottom: Rennie's Atelier Lamp for Linge Roset, Still vase for Normann Copenhagen and a range of soft goods for ni.ni.creative - Photograph by Derek Swalwell.

Another, in collaboration with long-term friend and stylist/interior designer Nina Proven, is ni.ni.creative – though their output is a little more modest in scale. Sharing a joint love of all things Japan, the pair have set about producing cushions, bags and personal objects from leathers and fabrics – all with a minimal touch.

Like many of the world’s acclaimed designers, Rennie’s ability to design products of various scales, typologies and price points is a large part of his talent. Akin to the ethos of Charles and Rae Eames, he balances desire with democracy though his personal philosophy is to create things that will engage the user physically and emotionally.

The Sway lamp by Nick Rennie for Made by Pen.

Take the Sway lamp, designed for fellow Melbournites Made by Pen. Recognised as part of the NYCxDesign Awards and winner in the lighting category of the Asia Pacific Design Centre's Design Excellence Awards earlier this year – Sway is a cordless, mobile floor lamp that relies on its low centre of gravity to keep it upright, it literally sways when you tap it. Reminiscent of playing totem-tennis as a child it achieves Rennie’s goal of engaging on both a physical and emotional level.

'Initially we wanted to design a lamp that was incredibly simple in its appearance. Something that would have presence if purely used as a static object', says Rennie of the lamp which, in conception, illuminated his inner-child. 'The initial sketch was similar to how a six-year old might draw a “dumbbell” used by a strong man. Two balls on either end of a long stick, and of course this shape screams out to have movement and be rolled from side to side'.

The Sway lamp is both intuitive and inviting, and represents a new collaboration between designer and manufacturer for both Rennie and Pen. A relationship built on reputation and respect that is ultimately desirable for both. In addition to the Sway lamp, the collaboration has produced a number of new products, launched at Maison et Objet in Paris recently.

The Alas wall hook offers multiple options for hanging clothes and jackets.

One of those products is the Alas wall hook, which can be positioned in a number of different ways. It uses translucent materials to play with light and, continuing with the theme of mixing things up, the Duo, Dolly and Sollo salt and pepper mills are designed to bring enjoyment to the dining table for those of all ages.

Combining Rennie's determination and talent with the resources of Made by Pen, this new partnership is one to keep an eye on.






HouseLab asks Nick Rennie for his six objects of desire.

1. Asics paper shoe insert

2. Concrete-based Chair_One by Konstantin Grcic for Magis

3. Parentesi lamp by Achile and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos

4. Sally chair by Jin Kuramoto for MEETEE

5. My Storage by Ineke Hans for Magis

6. Hills Hoist by Gilbert Toyne