Following more than two decades working on projects for clients including Lend Lease and Qantas, designer Felice Carlino started his own business, SUMU Design, in 2010. Four years later he began to design solid timber door furniture for some of his projects and in 2015 TIRAR was established.
The TIRAR range is designed for the eye and the hand in equal measure. “I wanted to eliminate metal fixings as much as possible and make designs that are all about the timber” says Carlino. What is striking about the TIRAR collection is the careful and perfect matching of timber grains on each side of the pull or handle creating a seamless finish. Carlino’s designs have a fluidity and smoothness that make them look as if they have been moulded from a more supple material. Unsurprisingly, American white oak and American walnut are the two timbers that dominate the range given their strength, appeal and distinctive grain. “I particularly like the colour of walnut when the sapwood comes through” he says, “It has a really beautiful grain and it’s always consistent, I often sandblast the timber to accentuate the grain”.
However, this attention to aesthetics does not mean that functionality has been in any way neglected. Carlino’s starting point was human anatomy. A study of the mechanics of the hand and the three joints of the fingers led him to a taper at the side combined with radius edges so that each design would be comfortable for any size of hand. The warmth of the timber to the touch also magnifies the user’s experience, elevating an everyday action into one that is enjoyable.
Originally produced only by hand, TIRAR is manufactured locally by Hornsby based Oz-Models, a small company that has established both a reputation for attention to detail and production of the highest quality. More recently Carlino has teamed up with architectural metalwork specialists, Axolotl to create a range of exciting finishes. The surface application of semi-precious metals brings another level of luxury and an opportunity for customised design. The Axolotl collaboration has also led to adventurous developments with 3D printed metal designs onto door pulls enabling exploration of both pattern and texture. “We have had enquiries of printing the names of hotels and room numbers on the door pulls. We are also investigated 3D printing Braille on the back of our levers and door pulls so people with visual impairments are able to know what room they are going to go in. This finish is suitable to use on any timber”.
It’s unsurprising that TIRAR has been recognised with a range of awards from a Sydney Design Awards 2020 Gold and a European Product Design Award to name but two. As the world’s appetite for the effortless combining of luxury and simplicity in Australian design grows, TIRAR not only graces exclusive Australian addresses such as the American walnut clad Qantas Chairman’s Lounge in Brisbane or the American cherry door furniture in the Vice Chancellor’s Office at UTS, but can also be found increasingly across Europe and South East Asia having caught the eye of prominent architectural practice such as Kerry Hill.
The expansion of this homegrown brand beyond Australian shores is a testament to its creator’s enthusiasm for his work, respect for his materials and personal involvement in each and every project. He has everything in hand.