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On the CUSP series: Meet maker and studio founder Ross Robertson

Founder of Oliver Whyte Studio, this artist and maker explores imagination and scale in design

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By Piet Smedy | October 18, 2022 | Art

We spoke to artist, furniture maker and studio owner, Ross Robertson about his process and the importance of imaginative design.

He says, “I was first introduced to the ideas of collectable design after attending an exhibition by Southern Guild many years ago. My mind was blown - I did not know people made furniture that looked like that. This idea of discovery still motivates me today.”

Personally, I try to bring a re-imagination of the archetypes of furniture and offer clients not just another table or chair. I want to offer them something they did not realise they wanted or liked.

Imagination and redefining forms is a part of the Oliver Whyte Studio ethos, Image: Karl Rogers

"I have been working in polyurethane for a while, but the idea and the material go hand in hand. I want to make pieces that tick the box of function as a pre-requirement, but I spend the majority of the time exploring the form and amplifying that to remake what a shelf or wall light could be. I build the basic frame out of wood, like a skeleton, and then hand-shape and carve the foam onto the "bones", which is mainly intuitive (I do not work with CAD drawings).

When explaining his process, Ross states, ‘I usually start with a sketch, but that is as planned as it gets; each mark or cut line informs the next, and this is how the piece is born. There is freedom in movement.’

I want the viewer to be challenged by what they are looking at, and every time discover something new. I think more time should be spent on form than function. We have been trying to perfect the absolute best this or that for long enough - let us bring back imagination.

This article appeared in the September 2022 of House and Garden SA