Founded by Graham Charbonneau & Dave Bickmore, studio-gram‘s design practice focuses on creating experiences as familiar as they are surprising. Their projects are collaboratively crafted and artfully considered. Inspired by faces and places, studio-gram endeavor to take users on journeys outside of their imagination.
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your firm studio-gram?
GC: I am originally from a small town in Ontario, Canada; Lancaster, just outside of Montreal. I was born and raised on hockey rinks throughout Canada. I moved to Australia to study Architecture at 23. I deferred uni for about 4 years after I quit playing ice hockey. During this time I snowboarded, travelled, worked behind bars, and for various construction companies, working on different scales and types of construction as a carpenter.
DB: I grew up in regional South Australia in a town called Renmark. My dad was a panel-beater turned winemaker, and at the age of 10 he taught me to weld. I think that is why I love making things.
Studio-gram was founded in 2014 and has now grown to 9 people.
Can you please curate your top 12 JRF products?
How did the two of you meet and what drove you to open your own studio?
We met whilst studying at the University of South Australia. We completed every group project at uni as a team. We formed a strong bond, an appreciation for our respective strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly a relationship where constructive criticism was welcomed. From there we honed our skills at different commercial practices before starting studio-gram.
We collaborated on the recently opened Fugazzi Bar & Dining Room in the beautiful city of Adelaide. The project features our INOX Tables + Custom Marble Tops, as well as Black Painted Frisbee Chairs by our Italian brand Cizeta. Talk us through the inspiration behind the space and what is your favourite part?
Fugazzi is a fake. It’s a hazy, it’s a doozie, it’s fairy dust. It doesn’t exist. It never landed. It is no matter. It’s not on the elemental chart. It’s not fucking real.
Fugazzi is an Italo-New York inspired bar and dining room that blurs the line between today and yesterday. It’s that moment of deja vu that begs the question, have I been here before?
An overnight institution where velvet, leather, marble, inlaid geometric scraps and custom joinery shelves are layered to create a decadent and luxurious atmosphere designed to invoke a sense of nostalgia. There it is, a romantic, textural representation of the past, that simultaneously manages to remain firmly rooted in the contemporary.
Is its bold character a physical manifestation of the Italians’ age-old gift of making art out of life, or is it just Fugazzi?
Fugazzi Dining Room by studio-gram featuring our Frisbee Chair by Cizeta.
Fugazzi by studio-gram featuring our Ikon tables and custom marble tops.
Pieces designed by Australian furniture designer and dear friend and collaborator of ours, Ross Didier, feature heavily in your past and present projects as well as your studio. Can you tell us how you discovered Ross and why you love his work?
We first came across Ross and his work when designing Osteria Oggi in 2015. The Fable dining chair is one of the only proprietary items within this venue so it was critical that the dining chair aligned with all of the custom designed elements.
We love Ross’ work. The pieces are functional and the aesthetic is agile meaning that they work within many different settings.
You designed our amazing stand at Denfair in 2018 for the launch of our rD collaboration with Ross Didier. Talk us through the process and inspiration behind it?
Ross’ brief was that he wanted the stand to be ‘utilitarian, like a Land Rover Defender’.
We thought about purely pragmatic building materials, and what’s more utilitarian than the humble concrete retaining wall sleepers you can buy at Bunnings? We flew the whole team to Melbourne on the Wednesday, built a giant jenga box using the concrete sleepers, went out for dinner and flew home.
studio-gram has played a pivotal role in shaping the Adelaide hospitality scene to what it is today. How have you seen it evolve over the years and what do you think makes Adelaide so special?
Adelaide is often referred to as a big country town. That’s what makes it a great place to live and work. You quickly get known for doing good (or bad) work so looking after your clients is incredibly important in a place like Adelaide, as you are only as good as your last project.
What are your non-negotiables when choosing furniture for hospitality venues aside from the aesthetic?
Comfort, is the single most important factor when selecting furniture for hospitality projects. People are very particular, and when it comes to the act of dining, there is very little room for error when it comes to the ergonomics of a chair and its relationship to the table.
What was your biggest lesson from 2020?
Don’t take travel for granted.
What’s next for studio-gram?
In the height of Covid we completed the design of our biggest project to date, a Hotel resort in Canggu, Bali.
Now for some quick fire questions:
What is the first international city you will travel to post pandemic?
GC: Montreal, Canada. (I haven’t seen my folks since February 2020).
What is the most treasured piece of furniture you own?
DB: My MF dining Table by local Adelaide maker, Remmington Matters.
Most memorable dining experience?
DB: Graham and I travelled to Paris in 2018. We had one of the best dinners of our lives and we cant remember the name of the restaurant. We’ve made a promise to go back and find it one day.
GC: Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World by Stephen Kellert. I read this book during the final year of my Master’s degree, and once again since graduating. It is a grounding book, and a reminder that our humanity is reliant on our relationship with nature.
DB: I recently finished reading Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. It’s a great book, even if you don’t surf. I think designers in particular would appreciate how Finnegan describes the aesthetic of the ocean and his life-long pursuit with finding the perfect wave.
Thank you both very much!
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