Ontic Design on working with Tasmanian Timber
According to Jaron Dickson of Ontic Design, a connoisseur of wine should have their bottles on display in something that reflects their passion for wine. It should complement the wine and fit in their space. The Grenache Wine System, made from Tasmanian Oak and metal, is proving to be one of the edgy young designer’s most popular products.
“The Grenache Wine System is a high-end showpiece,” says Jaron. “It’s for someone who loves wine and wants to make a showcase of their wines, not have them hidden away in the garage. It’s very minimalistic. I like that in furniture. But I also want it to be aesthetically pleasing.
“I hope the things I design could fit into a range of architectural styles. I don’t want them to be over the top. But, I want them to be beautiful. I want them to be timeless so they don’t date.”
“The piece is contemporary and functional. I love the contrast between the metal and the natural wood, which is exactly what we were going for.
“I really wanted to highlight the beauty of the Tasmanian Oak. The contrast works so well. It’s so precise but it’s not cold. The beautiful wood makes it warm. Basically, our design aesthetic is to mix a precise look with a more natural feel to give it warmth.
“It has a wooden base, which is also Tasmanian Oak, so no matter which angle you look at it from, there are all these highlights in the materials.”
The Grenache Wine System is available in natural or blackened Tasmanian Oak and designed so four wine racks can be stacked together before they need to be fixed to a wall. The idea is that people can keep buying more depending on how much wine they want on display.
“People have responded so well to the product,” says Jaron. “They say it’s beautiful empty, which definitely helps if you drink too much wine! But, with the Tasmanian Oak peeping through, it’s still a showpiece when it’s full. We chose the diameter for the Tasmanian Oak dowels because it’s almost identical to the top of a bottle. They marry into each other.”
Though Jaron studied industrial design, he specialised in automotive design. After a career in that field, which saw him working for Volkswagen in Germany, Jaron has recently moved into furniture and homewares design.
“The one thing I really noticed in Germany was the pride they had in German manufacturing, and in keeping it local. I wanted to bring that ethos back with me and use local wood wherever possible. I knew of Tasmanian Oak from university, but I had no idea of its full commercial potential.”
“I chose it because of its durability and strength. It was one hundred percent the economical choice for us too, which is another big factor. We don’t want our products to be out of reach for people to afford. A timber like Tasmanian Oak does everything we want it to do, but it doesn’t break the bank. It means we can price at a level that most customers are happy with.”
“Because the Tasmanian Oak dowels stick out 300 ml, we had to do extensive weight testing over several months,” explains Jaron.
“Tasmanian Oak is an incredible material. It just doesn’t move. It was the natural choice. What’s more, if you did accidentally smash a bottle, nothing would happen. Many timbers would dint immediately.
“Plus, Tasmanian Oak has other physical properties that make it perfect for the job. It’s pleasing to look at. Even with a natural wax finish it comes to life. Actually, we use it for our stool tops and knife blocks as well. Durability for knife blocks is especially important. Metal and sharp blades can’t mark Tasmanian Oak.”
“It’s so important to us that we use local hardwood,” he says. “It’s also important the timber is certified and sustainable. The species, especially in Tasmania, are just amazing. I found it fascinating to learn about. In fact, a greater understanding of the different Tasmanian timbers was one of the reasons I started doing this. We have all this diversity down there. It’s definitely not as exciting on the mainland that’s for sure.”
Ontic Design has its workshop in Brunswick East. But, its products are stocked online at http://www.onticdesign.co/ and in Catapult, the high-end furniture store in Sydney that sells exclusively products by Australian designers and furniture makers.