We recently caught up with Australian designer Kylie Bickle, to discuss her latest inspirations and upcoming street furniture range Shift — part of the UAP SUPPLY Collection. Playing with perceptions of density, gravity and transparency, the Shift range is a modular suite of outdoor street seating elements adaptable for any urban environment. Rotate, flip, align or offset each piece to create multiple configurations for intimate spaces or urban settings.
Tell us a little about your background – what did you study, and what led you to what you’re doing now?
I considered Fine Arts, but chose to do an Interior Design Degree. I worked briefly in this area before spending my 20’s exploring set, costume and furniture design, as well as travelling quite a bit! Since then I have worked in the space where art, craft and design intersect, with a focus on furniture designed for urban spaces.
What is the objective of your Shift range and how did you come about it?
My key objectives were to achieve textural contrast, visual counterbalance and design flexibility with the Shift range. Initially, I was playing with solid forms in modelling clay, slicing them up then ‘shifting’ the pieces out of alignment. To shift a solid stone element upwards would not be feasible for this standard range, however integrating the perforated steel elements achieves the illusion they are levitating.
How have your designs evolved over the years?
I have always enjoyed understanding material properties, testing and exploiting them. This has become more of a focus in recent years and much of my present studio work experiments with the bending and tensioning of various flat sheet materials.
How would you spend your last $20?
Not much you can do for $20, so with my husband for company, I might make mojitos with home-grown mint and native finger limes, sit on our back deck, watch a spectacular sunset and trust that a big commission was just around the corner!
What sparks your creativity?
I am fascinated with traditional artisanal skills, natural materials and innovative manufacturing technologies. My ideal design project would encompass all three!
“Don’t be concerned about combining diverse interests… this is what will make your work distinctive.”
Describe a ‘regular’ day for you, what does it look like?
I work from home so the day starts with coffee, breakfast with a mountain view, emails, scanning through a few favourite blogs and prioritizing. Whether it’s my own or commissioned projects I love to research and write as much as design and make. I work in my studio most days and try to coordinate one day a week out and about for project meetings, checking in with collaborators and sourcing. The occasional lunch with a friend is a treat on these days. When the pressure is on I tend to work late and do whatever it takes to meet a deadline!
What is your philosophy when it comes to your design work?
Basically, I set out to produce work that is considered, relevant and most importantly environmentally responsible.
Do you have any art or design icons?
No icons as such, but I have been inspired by many artists and designers at different times. I have always had a love of patternmaking and was fascinated by the clever couture designs of Erte (Romain de Tirtoff) early on in my career. The Campana Brothers influenced me with their resourceful and often amusing use of locally made, or discarded materials. And more recently Patricia Urquiola for her integration of craft practice and the handmade; as well as being a woman of note in a male-dominated design world!
What are you most looking forward to currently?
Producing work for an exhibition of large-scale folded screen elements later this year… and designing a tiny mobile house project in suburban Brisbane.
Any words of wisdom, advice to young designers?
Do a lot and discover what motivates you in life. Don’t be concerned about combining diverse interests, as this is what will make your work distinctive. Have integrity and always consider your impact on the planet.
If you were not a designer what do you think you would do?
Maybe a material scientist with a focus on sustainable materials – I would love to find a way to harvest lantana from our bushland and produce a useful new material!
We collaborate with and commission designers to create functional streetscape elements. Get to know more about the UAP Supply Collection and our collaborations with creatives from around the globe. View the entire Shift range now.