Images by Edwina Richards
1. Are you both originally from Newcastle?
We moved up to Newcastle about 3 years ago from Sydney.
2. What made you decide to move to Newcastle and set up your design studio?
It was at a time where we decided to give it a go in building up our brand and business, I [Priscilla] had the option to finish my last year of my Bachelor
of Industrial Design at the University of Newcastle, and we both were getting tired of the stresses and costs of setting things up in Sydney. We’ve
noticed the rise of the Newcastle art scene and had a feeling the design scene would soon follow. All fell into place and we decided to move up here.
Newcastle has provided us with so many different opportunities, from a studio space in the Emporium with Renew Newcastle, a degree followed with a job
at the University, as well as a great workshop space that we share with other amazing makers. We planned to try out Newcastle for at least a year,
but it feels like home now. We’re staying.
3. Are all the products you design made in Newcastle?
I would say 100% designed in Newcastle, at least 80% is made in our workshop on Fern Street in Islington, and the rest made in Newcastle and the greater
Hunter and a few elements made between Melbourne and Sydney.
4. Where do you find most of your customers are from?
Newcastle. We have gotten so much love here. Most of our customers are people we met during the time we had our studio/showroom in The Emporium on Hunter
Street, and from then it has been all word-of-mouth and referrals from clients. We know how lucky we are to have strived on very little advertising/marketing
for the past two years.
5. Would you say that the design industry in Australia is one that is growing?
It does seem that way. In terms of furniture, Australians are becoming more aware of good design and the luxury of lasting quality craft. Australian furniture
designers like Adam Goodrum, Tom Fereday, and other renowned designers have also set a great light to Australian design, especially in recent years
on the international stage which has nurtured an outwards-in pattern of growth.
6. What are your biggest challenges for emerging designers to stick it out and craft locally?
Do I quit my day job and fully commit to this path? Biggest challenge is finances, but that goes without saying. The challenge is to be able to source
your materials locally, set up a reliable supply chain, and connect with customers that are willing to pay the premium that comes with locally and
sustainably made. You need to do all that before your capital funds run out and you contemplate that day job. Like every business, the early stages
are just tough day-in and day-out. You need perseverance and absolutely believe in your vision and product, then find a good process to produce and
market your craft.
7. Your work has been reviewed on some major design websites and shown at some significant Design Awards, for you personally what has been your career highlight so far?
It was amazing to win the business grant from MINI and being mentored by Koskela. That was a major turning point for us as we used the cash to buy essential
machinery to ensure we could sustain local manufacturing.
8. What project are you currently working on?
We have diversified our practice and have been fortunate enough to be working on multiple projects at a time. We are currently launching a new range of
furniture for Red Block, as well as building custom pieces of furniture for local clients. We are also developing a kitchen fit-out range, and designing
signages for a few local businesses as well as the university.
9. Where can locals check your designs out at?
www.redblock.com.au currently, and by the end of the year we’ll be delivering to a couple of stockist within Newcastle and around Australia. Do follow
us on Instagram (@redblockdesign) for updates on this. Also, you can book an appointment to view our work in Islington by email firstname.lastname@example.org