Sydney designer Kristian Aus loves toys, comics and cartoons. An illustrator as well as an industrial designer, he uses simple shapes and strong outlines to create playful, iconic products.
It will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with Sydney designer Kristian Aus’s work that he loves toys, comics and cartoons. An illustrator as well as an industrial designer, he uses simple shapes and strong outlines to create playful, iconic products. Having graduated from industrial design at UTS in 2002, he works as a consultant part time while running his own design studio, Autumn Products. The combination gives him an insight into all areas of design, from technical problem solving or designing office chairs to creating his own products, which are manufactured locally, then assembled and sold directly by Kristian on his website using the brand Under.
It is through Under that Kristian is now selling products like the Metal Petal pendant light. It is simple folded steel, yet the shape and colour make it instantly appealing. Likewise, his Triangulate coat rack, made from the same folded steel in a simple shape, serves a double function as a place to hang your coat and a shelf to hold your mail or keys. Another coat stand, Dottie, in timber this time, has moving parts that allow it to double as a coat stand and as a toy. Meanwhile, the Hut pendant lamp looks like it might actually be a big toy. But appearances can be deceiving. Kristian’s products work so well because of his technical skill, which allows them to look simple while actually being quite complex. As a problem solver, he is constantly looking for technical originality via new processes or by creating products with multiple functions. He explains, “If you break down the Hut pendant light it’s very simple, folded acrylic and folded steel – two processes that are common in Australia. But when they’re put together in a product, you don’t see those processes, you see a house – something that’s cute and nice and heart-warming. I try to turn these cold processes into something warm.” Kristian has also explored the house shape in another pendant light, called House, which he is hoping to get made as a production piece.
Splash is the first product that Kristian has had manufactured by an international brand. He exhibited the prototype in Milan in 2009 and it was picked up by Italian brand B-Line and launched as part of its range in 2010. And again, the beauty of Splash is in its playful shape combined with its functional innovation. When used as a stool, the shape is neither a solid block nor a stool with four legs, but has eight legs, referencing an octopus. When turned up the other way, the object becomes an ice bucket, plant pot or clothes basket, and looks like a cartoonish splash.
“I like to think that my products are 3D representations of what may have started as a cute illustration,” explains Kristian. It is this ability to create playful shapes based on cartoons and toys, in combination with his technical ability, that is at the heart of this talented young designer’s work.