Didier is Australia’s leading furniture design studio. Didier creates unique and beautiful furniture conceived with an authentic narrative and delivered by engineering brilliance. The brand celebrates the close connection between people and the objects they love and believes good design enhances lives. Didier encourages customers to make each piece their own – to be valued, used and admired every day.
We are so excited to add the Didier brand to our range even though we feel like Ross has been a special part of the JRF family for a while now. We first joined forces when we launched our collaboration rD by Ross Didier back in 2018. We are so proud to now stock the full Didier Range and look forward to a future filled with Ross’s beautiful designs, new exclusive products and continued great partnership.
We sat down with Ross to discover more about his childhood, how he began his career in the furniture industry, his biggest ‘wow’ moments, and what we can expect next from Didier.
Pictured: Ross Didier and Georgia Danos (Creative & Brand Director of JRF).
JRF: Where did you grow up? Tell us about your childhood and how that influenced your career?
Ross: We lived in the outer Melbourne suburb of Templestowe during the 70’s and it felt like a Golden Era of creativity. The Yarra River was quite close, so we constructed a lot of rafts and there were many houses being built in the area which was great for resources. Our home also had a large garage with all the tools to make everything we wanted as kids and the hard-rubbish dates were always marked on the fridge calendar which created the perfect picking grounds for manufacture.
We also lived near Heide Art Gallery, so I wanted to be a sculptor from the age of about five, but my first introduction to professional design was through one of the older brothers in our street studying Product Design, and as a young teenager I was utterly seduced by all the hand sketches on his walls.
What did your bedroom look like as a child?
During my younger years I shared mixed bedrooms with three older sisters, so this was a limiting time to get much choice of styling. These were the years I remember when a Bruce Lee poster that was Blue Tacked on the wall one night, would be ‘mysteriously’ gone the next!
I tried to fill my first bedroom with everything of curiosity like a 19th century gentleman’s den and I was fascinated with an old set of Encyclopaedia Britannica for inspiration. I made exploded scientific models of body parts like eyes and ears, and I was obsessed with making engineering models from a vintage Meccano set.
What is your background and where did your love of craftsmanship and design come from?
Both pairs of my grandparents were heavily involved in manufacture and the crafts with a long linage of making things. My mum was also an art teacher, and my dad ran a successful factory in Clifton Hill, so we were always discussing creative ideas and our home was full of interesting objects.
I studied both Industrial Design then Fine Art Sculpture at RMIT, and though these studies I became fascinated by blending the concepts of art with the functions of design. It established my strong belief that furniture is the closest expression of functional sculpture and I love creating pieces related to the human form.
What was the first piece of furniture you created?
There were a few experimental pieces during Industrial Design, but it was when I returned back from London in the late 90’s that I created a table design called Astro. It won the Victorian Design Award for Young Designer and travelled overseas to win at the Singapore Furniture Fair.
When did you start Didier and what was your first collection?
During the mid to late 90’s I lived in London and worked backstage theatre making all sorts of interesting objects for film and stage, and it was during this time I started playing with some ideas for furniture designs after hours.
I had originally travelled to Europe because it seemed centre of the universe at the time but coming to the end of the 20th century, the interesting things were developing in Southeast Asia and closer to Australia so me and my wife Libby decided to make a move from the UK to start something in Melbourne.
We formally started Didier in 2001 and the first official collection developed was a chair and table range for Nintendo Headquarters, Australia.
Pictured: Ross Didier (2001) developing the Nintendo collection.
What’s your favourite design and why? Or is that like choosing your favourite child?
It’s always the next design I’m working on because it’s the process of concept, narrative, prototyping and launching to market that excites me.
You are a pioneer in Australian furniture design, what do you think makes Australian design so special?
There is a cultural eclecticism in Australia which naturally makes it different from any other place on earth, and I think this special uniqueness is often revealed unconsciously through the best local designs. I’ve also witnessed a huge change of support for local Australian design which encourages the confidence to take creative risks.
Pictured: Ross Didier developing his collection Fable.
Who do you look up to as a source of inspiration in the design industry?
I’m inspired by designers who retain a spirit of enthusiasm and longevity like Achille Castiglioni, Philippe Starck and Paul Smith. I’m also inspired by individuals who carve unique brand voices like the Campana brothers, Iris van Herpen and Jean Paul Gaultier.
I love Japanese design because it empowers the subtle, and I have always been fascinated by the mid-century designers Carlo Molino and Gaetano Pesce for their insane diversity and rebellious characters.
We collaborated on an exclusive range in 2019, the rD by Ross Didier. How did this collaboration begin and why JRF?
It’s fantastic when you make a personal connection in the industry – with a genuine relationship that extends past the business. It was also during a time I had decided to only collaborate with clients I liked, so the stars seem to align.
In 2018, Orest and the JRF team approached me with a specific design project that was interesting, so we explored this opportunity over the next few months. I think we were both nervous at the time because JRF had never commissioned a designer before and I was hesitant to work with a large corporation – but trust can prove incredibly motivating for creative ventures.
We are so proud to now be officially representing Didier at JRF.
What drove you to choose JRF as a brand partner?
A strong, intuitive friendship has evolved between Didier and JRF, and a good business decision feels right. We share the same values where authentic ideas are respected and with a belief that good design can reach further. We’re both ready to grow and really excited by the future.
Pictured: The Fable Collection by Didier.
Can you give us any inside scoop on upcoming releases or collaborations for Didier?
I’m currently prototyping a number of new projects for Didier including an outdoor lounging range, and a lighting piece. I have also been steadily resolving a seating design that evolves from my fascination of haute couture and costume design, with a strong emphasis on sculpted form.
Now some quick-fire questions:
Other than your own, what is your most treasured piece of furniture you own?
Original Lesbo Table Lamp by Angelo Mangiarotti
Your biggest ‘wow’ moment?
Too hard to single out and I genuinely get a thrill from most projects.
Exhibiting the Obelisk lounge in Milan then seeing it installed throughout the Denver Art Museum was a big moment, but my favourite ‘wow’ moments definitely come when prototyping with small breakthroughs, like finally resolving the Gunzel table rails.
Favourite dining experience?
Vue de Monde
Favourite city you have travelled to?
First place you’ll visit when you can?
West Country, UK
If you could have dinner with two people (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
Steven Fry for his wisdom, wit, and mythical storytelling.
Temple Grandin for being an incredible visual thinker and what she’s done for the humane treatment of animals.
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