Designer Profile: Charles Wilson

Sydney-based designer Charles Wilson, best known for his design of upholstered furniture, graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Design. Since then, he has formed a design studio and has worked with many manufacturers to produce his pieces.

We asked him a few questions about being a designer, what his influences are, and the process he goes through to create a piece.


What is the best thing about being a designer?

I love the potential to perfect a given idea that comes with design for production. Unlike other creative forms, such as fine art, craft, or even Architecture which in a way is the ongoing design of prototypes, product designers can continually resolve the issues of functionality, materials, proportion etc in advance of the end result. I guess this also would partly explain why I am drawn to being a freelance designer – unlike in most studio or in-house situations I have the luxury of time.


What is the worst thing about being a designer?

I’d have to say dealing with projects being derailed for what ever reason. Some of the work that I’m most proud of – designs with a real innovation in their function and use – I’ve had the most difficulty seeing through to being produced.


What or who are your major influences?

I am probably, more than anything else, influenced by the ideas of modernism – and the leading modernists themselves. While many people regard the edict of “form follows function” as an outmoded cliche (for years now we’ve heard second-rate design academics trumpeting its demise), I think it’s actually a concept of great subtlety and nuance – perhaps the one truly profound idea underpinning three dimensional design. it’s both a matter of holding that idea in both it’s original and subsequent historic context, and that of interpretation in the context of 21st century design.


What is the process behind what you do?

I guess the one thing that is consistent about my design process is that it begins with sketching.  And I’m particularly fond of huge 1:1 scale drawings. From this point the methodologies vary a lot. The big change in recent years has been 3d CAD and the affiliated technologies of rapid prototyping. I used to build my prototypes by hand whereas now most components can be machined or CNC cut, or grown. I really love these technologies for the way they enhance the whole designing/prototyping process. Also the freedom they bring, allowing for ongoing experimentation and fine adjustments.

Visit Charles Wilson’s website – here.