To run your hand over a beautifully finished timber surface is to feel something elemental; to connect with something of life’s essence. Solid yet elegant; strong yet graceful, carefully crafted wood invites touch. Instinctively we reach out to discover the harmony between how the timber looks and how it feels; to understand how the material, its form and function coalesce.
For Adrian Olasau, working with this material is a sensory and very satisfying experience – and always has been. He loves the texture, the colour, and the scent of wood, and knowing the material and its tolerances allows him to embed subtle, quiet detail into his designs. Detail – and the desire to respect it – characterise what he designs and makes. It echoes the industrial designer Dieter Rams ethos of “less – but better” where good design has its own purity, simplicity.
Growing up in a family of “makers” – his mother a trained weaver and his father a pattern and tool maker – Adrian Olasau learnt about detail from a young age. Making things and working with his hands came naturally to him and grew into a passion he wanted to pursue professionally.
After graduating from the Sturt School for Wood in the Southern Highlands of NSW, Adrian honed his skills over three years working with a highly-respected craftsman in Canberra. There he crafted chairs, cabinets and bespoke pieces, and practiced the discipline required for repeatable accuracy – a fundamental skill for professional designer/makers, and a hallmark of skillfully crafted detail.
French writer, Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, said that “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. This resonates with Adrian Olasau’s approach to design – flawless simplicity has its own beauty. Sometimes a beautiful design can have a remarkably simple origin: his iconic GH bike rack took shape while he was manipulating a piece of flexible perspex to explore curves.
Adrian’s designs also originate from well thought-out design briefs. A specific task for a piece of furniture and strict dimension requirements – such as the C.O Stool – starts with rough sketches and design notes. He then mocks up a prototype to test ideas and proportion.
At other times, design inspiration and new concepts arrive unbidden when he allows his mind to wander from the to-do list; when his mind is freed from the usual constraints of managing a busy design practice.
While Canberra provided valuable experience, Melbourne has always been home for Adrian Olas, and with its vibrant craft and design scene, Melbourne is the ideal base for his design company, Olas, and his family.
Adrian Olasau has received two awards (Studio Woodworkers Australia Top New Talent in 2014; and Vivid Object Design winner in 2017 for the GH Bike Rack) and his work has been exhibited in many forums:
DENFAIR, Front/Centre Emerging Designer Melbourne, Australia (2019)
The Games We Play, Fringe Furniture, Melbourne, Australia (2018)
Workshopped18, Australian Design Centre, Sydney, Australia (2018)
Bicycle Design, NewActon Window Gallery, Canberra, Australia (2017)
Lull Gallery, Canberra, Australia (2016)
Emerging Artist, Craft ACT: Craft & Design Centre, Canberra, Australia (2015)
Assemblage, Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, Australia (2014)