An ever-evolving visual vocabulary of form, function

Yang Di
Brodie Neill is an international furniture designer from Tasmania and based in London. 
Yang Di
An ever-evolving visual vocabulary of form, function
Courtesy of Brodie Neill / Ti Gong

Brodie Neill

Who is he?  

Brodie Neill is an international furniture designer from Tasmania and based in London. His work covers limited editions, special commissions and niche production, including his self-established brand, Made in Ratio, which harnesses nature’s perfection of ratio and proportion in creating contemporary furniture.

Tell us some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of?

It’s always difficult to choose a favorite though I would have to say the Alpha chair or perhaps the Cowrie chair, both by Made in Ratio and part of Taschen’s 1000 Chairs.

Not only are they two of my most recognizable designs but also the result of intense development and technical resolve.  Alpha is an all-in-one stackable dining chair robotically sculpted in solid wood and finished by hand. Its iconic posture is due to the design’s A frame structure, giving the chair rigidity and also its name.

The Cowrie chair is inspired by nature in a concaved form of its namesake, the Cowrie shell.  Also refined to a single surface, the Cowrie chair is a contemporary bent plywood occasional lounge chair that fuses art and furniture in one.

Are you currently involved with any project?

I am currently involved in projects worldwide, from special commissions in Australia to projects in the South of France, India, the UAE and the USA.  One of the biggest developments throughout 2020 is the launch of my Made in Ratio collection throughout China. As of September, the collection has been exclusively distributed via Global Design Distribution with a premiere planned in Shanghai for early 2021.

Describe your design style?

Organic, sculptural and sinuous. My design work is material driven form exploration resulting in an ever-evolving visual vocabulary of form and function.

Where are you most creative?

I am most creative in the mornings following a jog or walk to help stimulate both mind and body. It also helps to get the day started with clarity and direction. Gets the creative juices flowing, so to speak.

What does your home mean to you?

At present due to the pandemic my home is everything. It’s my family sanctuary but also my design studio. Fortunately, I have plenty of space to divide the many facets of day-to-day life working from home with young children. The three-level apartment also acts as an occasional showroom featuring many of my key pieces that I get to live and work with.

What do you collect?

I don’t consciously collect, rather I gather things on my journeys, items of inspiration or artworks gifted or exchanged with my creative peers. It’s an eclectic array of styles from Aboriginal art to Sri Lankan tapestry, antique glass to contemporary ceramics. I guess an element of craft ties them all together with each object holding a great sense of narrative.

I also have an assortment of natural specimens that act as an endless source of inspiration, especially items found on trips home to my native Tasmania such as whale bones, river stones and drift wood.

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

I would love to visit the many examples of Art Deco architecture across Shanghai and witness its integration into contemporary Chinese culture. Art Deco is all about the details, so you often have to discover the buildings for yourself in order to get a closer picture. It would be interesting to see how buildings from this era have adapted to modern times within the fabric of a thriving city.

What will be the next big design trend?

Sustainability has always been at the heart of what I do as it comes second nature when growing up surrounded by the wilderness in Tasmania. Thankfully more and more designers are realizing the importance of sustainability and working with natural materials in a resourceful and respectful manner. I certainly hope this trend continues and inspires larger organizations to adopt more sustainable practises.

This year has changed the live-work landscape with many new trends emerging and creating the multitasking, mixed-use environments of the home. There will be great change in the form of spacious public areas that encourage outdoor activities in a safe yet social way.

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