Duncan Meerding, working from his heart


This afternoon I am chatting with a truly amazing young man, Duncan Meerding. I saw his work at Decoration and Design and now have the pleasure of sharing it with you. I showed a snippet in my wrap up here.

Duncan says that he is inspired by nature and living. Much of his work is inspired by organic forms with a particular interest in how light performs around objects. Being legally blind, this vision of light emanating from the peripheries and the highly tactile nature of his work reflect the alternative sensory world within which he designs.

I am adoring this Mini Cabinet which Duncan says is also one of his favourites! This will also feature shortly at an exhibition where he will have 2 mini cabinets and an entrance piece here:

Mini cabinet by Duncan Meerding

Mini cabinet by Duncan Meerding

Mini Cabinet

Mini Cabinet

Tasmanian based, Duncan is only 26 years old but he has a long list of achievements in his chosen craft. He says that he started on this path after making his own guitar at just 14 years of age, and then went on to win the “Design In Wood Award” at Hobart College aged 18. At age 23 he completed a 4 year Bachelor or Arts, History and Furniture Design Major degree at the University of Tasmania. He followed this up with the prestigious Designed Objects Tasmania Springboard Scholarship and the Biennial Ministers Youth Arts Award in the same year! This then led to an amazing opportunity to be mentored with wonderful designer David Trubridge in New Zealand who we have featured on the blog before.

Leaning Leaf Table by Duncan Meerding

Leaning Leaf Table by Duncan Meerding

Duncan is a powerhouse of design! Over the past couple of years he has been listed as a Top Ten Finalist in the Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award (2011), shortlisted in Australia’s Launchpad (2012) and accepted to be part of the Red Dot Design Awards in Germany this year. He has also participated in lots of exhibitions such as Decoration and Design last week.

The really amazing thing is that all of his wonderfully beautiful work has been designed and hand crafted by him whilst legally blind.

Duncan was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition in 2005 that left him legally blind within 12 months. He first noticed something was wrong while watching television when his left eye started struggling with perspective. He was left with less than 5 per cent vision in the peripheral field in both eyes.Duncan says that before he began losing his sight at the age of 18, he loved the beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness. The natural lines of trees, the details of leaves and the curves of lilies are now the inspiration for his work. The furniture designer now makes what he can remember. “What I see is as if you put your fists in front of your face and used only your periphery,” he says.

With no central vision, he can barely make out the shapes of the furniture he makes but he can feel the items – not just literally, as his sense of touch is one of his guiding design principles – but also emotionally. When you see his work in the flesh this emotional aspect comes across very strongly. The pieces are simple, beautiful and very tactile, which makes sense.

Lily Lamp by Duncan Meerding

Lily Lamp by Duncan Meerding

Lily Lamp by Duncan Meerding

Lily Lamp by Duncan Meerding

The simple lines of his designs are very contemporary and he describes his design as a form of artistic expression to explain how he sees the world now: minimalist objects with flowing lines. It is the way he can see the world and it makes for gorgeous lines and form in the finished designs. The Lily Lamp above is set on a turned Tasmanian Eucalypt base. This then flows on to a hand carved bent wood stem. Each stem being hand carved, encourages the observer to appreciate the lamp through touch as well as through sight.

This vision of light emanating from the peripheries and the highly tactile nature of his work, reflect the alternative sensory world within which he designs. The Lily Lamp is directly inspired by natural form.

To help him in his work he uses a talking tape measure (he calls it “my old mate” despite its English accent) and a tactile depth gauge. He uses his senses of touch and hearing: feeling his way with the grain of the wood, listening to a chisel to know when it is not cutting properly (a skill one of the university technicians taught him by blindfolding himself). A sense of humour and a high pain threshold also help! “So far I haven’t lost any digits but I’ve had your usual slips of the chisel and cut fingers most woodworkers have experienced,” he says. In terms of sustainability, Duncan moved to Tasmanian oak because it was not a rainforest product which is great to know.

crossover cantilever stools by Duncan Meerding

crossover cantilever stools by Duncan Meerding

Spiral Pendants by Duncan Meerding

Spirals 180 by Duncan Meerding

Spirals 180 above serves the function of lighting an area, while still creating a relaxing mood through the pattern of warm, yellow light being pushed through the horizontal slots. These horizontal slots give the piece its name, through the spiral – like pattern that they form. The light emanating through the slots, highlights Duncan’s continued interest in the dispersion of light and reflects the alternative sensory world in which he designs. The spirals 180 Pendant light measures 180 mm cubed. These lights are also available in other sizes if requested. The light comes with a pendant unit with a 1.5 metre cord ready for wiring by a licensed electrician.
Made from Hoop Pine Plywood, chosen for its sustainability credentials as well as aesthetic appeal, this pendant light is suitable for many applications.

Cracked Log Lamps by Duncan Meerding

Cracked Log Lamps by Duncan Meerding

The amazing and unique Cracked Log Lamps are made from salvaged logs which would otherwise have been burnt. These lamps embrace, rather than avoid the naturally occurring cracks in refuse logs. By turning them into a vessel for light, we can bring the outside in, and be reminded of our intrinsic connection with nature.  These lamps are not rated for outdoor use and 12 watt compact fluoro bulbs are the maximum to be used.

Seem more products and how to order them at  WWW.DUNCANMEERDING.COM.AU



No Comments

  1. clementinegoesusa on July 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Wow, the simplicity in this furniture, along with the true respect for the authenticity of the wood is impressive. Love it!

    • Helen Edwards on July 27, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      yes it is really beautiful work. Thanks for coming to have a look 🙂

  2. Bernadette Fiedler on August 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Wow what an amazing young man love his work

    • Helen Edwards on August 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      yes he certainly is, such talent and connection with nature and his craft.

  3. Mary Patchett on February 4, 2017 at 1:06 am

    I would love to touch his work. It invites one to stroke it and feel it rather than simply look on it. Brilliant. I just love it.

    • Helen Edwards on February 4, 2017 at 8:15 am

      isn’t it just beautiful – that is part of the aim, to make you want to touch it and wood is so important to have in our homes – thanks for your comment and for reading Duncan’s story

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