The art of successful collaborations

Tom Fereday and Michael Murray at Local Milan 2017

With the annual Milan Design Week fresh in our memories we’re inspired by the products and installations we experienced across Italy’s home of design and the possibilities that present themselves when people come together to create.

Listening to Spanish designer Jaime Hayon speak about his ongoing collaboration with Danish brand Fritz Hansen, it was refreshing to hear his modest realism in acknowledging that it is not he who designs furniture, it is we – being the designer and the manufacturer. Equally, brands such as Fritz Hansen and Magis understand the roles that all parties have in creating something brilliant and the importance of working with the right designer on the right project.

Closer to home, brands like Rakumba are also strategic in working with the cream of local designers. Rakumba’s recent collaboration with the prolific and highly celebrated Australian designer, Tom Fereday, has resulted in Tom’s lighting being exhibited across Europe at some of the world’s most prestigious design fairs.

This April – in an exquisite space adjacent to Milan’s Basilica Sant’Ambrogio – the ethos of collaboration was on show at the Local Milan exhibition.  Curated by Emma Elizabeth, eleven Australian designers were showing new work – some self-generated and others, like Fereday’s Mito floor lamp – the result of a highly successful collaboration.

Spontaneous in the best possible way, it was the 2016 Local Design x Kozminsky exhibition that jump-started this productive relationship. Fereday was showing his blown-glass Bailey pendant, and a casual discussion led to this small run shifting to a production model, employing Rakumba’s expertise in design development, manufacturing and technical lighting. It was the beginning of a new relationship for the Melbourne-based brand, who have carved out a distinctive niche by complimenting their in-house range with pieces by leading Australian designers.

As a result, Fereday’s Bailey pendant was exhibited at the Stockholm Furniture Fair along side his SP01 outdoor furniture collection for Space Furniture. The dedication to exhibit on the other side of the globe gave Fereday some well-deserved exposure, with British mega-blog Dezeen including him in a group of seven emerging talents to watch from the Swedish fair.

During development of the Bailey pendant for production, Fereday found himself engaged with a brief for a new lighting series with Rakumba, pushing the boundaries of decorative lighting. The result is Mito, an elegant statement of ingenuity, craftsmanship and expertise – ultimately the product of a perfect collaboration.

So what makes a successful partnership between a brand and a designer, delivering results greater than the sum of the parts? For Mito, it was about each party being given the opportunity to play to their strengths as well contribute to the work of the others; working together harmoniously without the impediments of ego, competitiveness or proprietary protectionism. In the best collaborations in the design world, there is a blurring of boundaries between the aesthetic, technical and manufacturing components of the design process – idea development is an organic conversation and not something that needs to be labelled or compartmentalised.

The Bailey pendant by Tom Fereday

Respect is also a key component and through that comes support. Taking on the complex design and production process of Mito required the full support of both Rakumba and Fereday, facilitating the manufacturing and technical aspects to a standard expected by all involved and fully supporting each other with the product release marketing effort – in the case of Mito, this has so far been an International effort requiring considerable personal and capital investment. It is team work at its best and the end result bears the hallmark of the commitment involved.

It is common in Salone del Mobile to see new product that is literally at prototype stage, not being available for a further one to two years and this is where the collaborative efforts of Rakumba and Fereday really shine. Their ability to create something so effortlessly complex is clear in Mito, though to take a luminaire from brief to prototype in just over 3 months requires some serious commitment. Having worked in parallel on all aspects of the lamp, Mito’s moons aligned when it took centre stage at Local Milan as a production-ready piece of technically beautiful lighting.

So what is it that makes the Mito lighting series so special? For lovers of material and form, it’s the combination of natural timber and stone with the pared back graphic personality of the lamps. Mito is just as beautiful when the lights are off as when the disks are illuminated, casting shadows and light to further emphasise the sculpture. For Fereday it is an exploration in materials, allowing the honest texture and grain of the timber and stone to come to the fore.

The team at Rakumba working with Tom Fereday on Mito

For the tech geek in us designers, there’s a lot more to Mito than meets the eye. Fittingly, Mito is a prefix describing something that is threadlike. Both Fereday and Rakumba see Mito being exemplified by the lamps’ assembly just as much as their form, in the way the pieces link together; the clear graphic ‘thread’ both visually and structurally linking the concave forms and at the same time powering the lights.

Additionally, this mechanism allows Mito’s lunar forms to rotate – and when they are turned 180 degrees there is a moment of magic as the light permeates through the stone to create an eclipse-like effect. Again this is a result of material selection and production techniques with the stone machined to a thickness fine enough to enable this effect.

It is something Rakumba pride themselves on, making technically beautiful lighting – and it’s also something Fereday is no stranger to – having designed everything from watches to microphones and of course, an impressive portfolio of furniture.

The Mito floor lamp and wall lighting system will be available for purchase later this year, through Café Culture + Insitu and Estilo Commercial.  Mito will also be shown at Denfair 2017 in Melbourne.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Tom Fereday or the team at Rakumba please contacts us.





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