Interview with Australian Designer Daniel Barbera | Yellowtrace

 

Daniel Barbera is a Melbourne-based furniture designer. In 2004, he established Barbera Design – more the outcome of being an inquisitive kid and rolling with “natural evolution” than a conscious decision. Barbera Design has been a very fruitful venture so far, seeing Daniel work with world’s leading architects, exhibiting at a number of festivals and shows, and winning the lighting award at Fringe for ‘Crooked Shady‘.

His work is nothing short of exquisite with a minimalist aesthetic that perfectly balances the delicate and the sturdy. Working in a range of materials depending on the product and volume – wire, plastic, timber, leather and bronze – Barbera has come to this style largely from a scientific, structural angle (there’s the problem solving child and industrial designer at heart). He has a strong environmental approach towards both his commercial range and bespoke pieces. For Barbera, the integrity of a product is key. And now we’ll leave the rest to him. Here’s what he had to say.

 

Daniel Barbera Bronze Table | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Bronze Table | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Uccio Table | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Uccio Table | Yellowtrace

 

+ Hello Daniel, welcome to Yellowtrace and thank you for taking the time to e-chat. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself – when did you first decide that you wanted to be a product/furniture designer?

I would be terrible at doing something I don’t love, so it wasn’t a decision but more a natural evolution from tinkering with radios, skateboards and cars as a kid that I made the ‘choice.’

+ How do you characterise your design approach and your aesthetic? What is fundamental to your design practice – your philosophy and your process?

As much as I love the form and sculptural aspects of furniture design, the science/structural elements drive the design and ultimately the aesthetic.

 

Daniel Barbera Block Stools |

Daniel Barbera Timber Chair | Yellowtrace

 

+ How do you go about establishing a concept and an overall direction/ look & feel for your projects? Do you have a certain process that you always follow?

Yes but a process that is not always the same, one that includes a healthy amount of deliberation and objectivity. The look and feel is one that is predetermined in my manufacturing process and philosophy, quality hand made furniture.

+ Do you have a favourite part of the process? Is it the initial spark of an idea or is it solving the problem that’s interesting?

Solving of the problem. It goes back to when I was a kid and had to figure out how to climb a tree. Figuring it out wasn’t too hard or that mind blowing but the act of climbing was the most exhilarating feeling a kid could probably have.

 

Daniel Barbera Timber Table | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Uccio Stool | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera  | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Uccio Seating | Yellowtrace

 

+ What are some of your methods to staying motivated, focused, and expressive?

To constrain my wondering mind I have to focus on a couple key projects/problems which in turn keep me motivated and not overwhelmed. My expressive nature is innate so it really just needs to be directed appropriately with organisation.

+ What advice would you give to emerging designers who want to follow your path? What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting your practice?

Emerging designers need to question themselves and be prepared for a little struggle, because to start a design practice can sometimes feel like your treading water. The greatest lesson I’ve learnt would be how much time it can take to turn a concept into a refined product. To achieve something that is far from ordinary and one that I can be a little bit proud of.

 

Daniel Barbera | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Bronze Table | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Bronze Table | Yellowtrace

 

+ Who or what are some of your influences? What other artists, designers, peers and creatives in general do you admire?

Hero of Alexandria, Achille Castiglioni, Chris Connell but probably most importantly Phillip Adams. His humility and humour when discussing life’s quandaries is unparalleled in Australian media, always providing new avenues for creative exploration whether or not it be tangible design.

 

Daniel Barbera Bronze Table Square | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Bronze Table Square | Yellowtrace

 

+ Is there something professionally you would like to try that you haven’t done yet? What would be your dream creative project or collaboration?

Maybe a collaboration with a musician/composer, some form of synthesis of sound and touch. The differentiation between senses fascinates me, why do we often excel with one but not with others? when do they crossover? Exploration of Synesthesia I suppose.

+ What’s next – can you share with us your vision and some of your goals?

That we as a community value or have a respect for a product’s integrity. Where and how it was made and designed, in turn valuing a specialists education, opinion and product. Thus creating a sustainable design and manufacturing environment.

 

Daniel Barbera Lovelock Coat Stand | Yellowtrace

 

Let’s Get Personal:

+ What’s the best mistake you have ever made?

The biggest stuff ups are the most opportunistic times for growth. Probably when I underestimated the production cost with a target cost in mind and decided to run with it anyway. It ended up being so well received I was able follow through with it as a staple product.

+ Apart from your work, what other interests or hobbies do you have?

I have no hobbies really, my life is my hobby. All the usual hedonistic cultural aspects of life, food, music, film, although they often seem to bring me back to furniture.

 

Daniel Barbera Shelves | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Shelves | Yellowtrace

 

+ What is your most treasured belonging?

Obviously other than family, it would be my memories as a child of building and creating, that inquisitive mind has formed the basis of my life and friendships.

+ What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

Despite what most people think, I don’t live in a house with amazing furniture. Its made up of a few prototypes and the rest is ordered junk.

 

Daniel Barbera Uccio Side Table | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Uccio Stool | Yellowtrace

Daniel Barbera Uccio Seating | Yellowtrace

 

+ It’s not very cool, but I really like…

Uncool things. Cool ain’t cool, unless it’s uncool.

+ In ten years I’d like to be…

Having finally completed the furniture for Richard Branson’s Australian getaway, I would hope to be paid in a return family ticket to space.

 

Daniel-Barbera-Uccio-Chairs-Yellowtrace-02

Daniel Barbera Uccio Chairs Low | Yellowtrace


[Images courtesy of Daniel Barbera.]

 

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