After a fruitless search for a suitable timber handle for a residential project they were working on, Architects Karryn Dargie and Dean Baird from Hobart-based IN-TERIA, decided that they would make their own.
That was 7 years ago. In 2012 they launched their first range at Design.Made.Trade. Big O, Curvy, Stealth and Kaboom led the charge for what is now a thriving business beyond that of a traditional architecture studio.
Whilst each has a distinct role in the business, they design together. Being partners in life, in addition to professionally, means designing becomes a “never ending conversation” between them. Their goal is to play with form and material, to reinvent and importantly, to learn: “We see our role as designers, as collaborators, pulling together and weaving together strands of ideas whilst considering constraints, opportunity, pragmatics and aesthetics” they say.
Their tactile range of door furniture plays homage to three of the core tenets of their design philosophy; firstly, form follows function; secondly to ‘chase simplicity’ and; finally, to ‘create beauty that will endure’. “Our desire was to produce objects that are warm to the hand, smooth, soft and inviting to touch. Whilst they will age and patina beautifully over time, they can easily be maintained in-situ” adds Karryn.
The pair talk about the development of their relationship with timber as a material and express some frustration at when timber is referred to as a ‘finish’. “Timber is not a finish, it’s a natural material with certain characteristics and qualities”. They believe that the rise of engineered products, especially veneers, has contributed to this confusion - an expectation for neutrality and consistency at odds with the unique qualities and inconsistencies found in natural timbers.
American hardwoods feature strongly in their range and they say are increasingly in demand. They put this down to the trend towards American species in large-scale architectural projects, the enduring popularity of mid-century US modernism and also because they are “beautiful timbers”. The colour palate of the warmth of American white oak, the depth of American black walnut and lighter options offered by American ash and American hard maple also afford the variety that their customers demand.
Like any successful business, time is an increasingly scarce resource at IN-TERIA: “Projects have tighter deadlines, fees are competitive and decisions are made so swiftly,” says Karryn. Though they seem unfazed and have a focus on continuing to explore and grow. Plans include a new application to make timber selection easier for specifiers, a toy made from Tasmanian timber and development of both their metal M-Series and their timber O and Linear series “we want to explore materials and ways of making, whilst still learning from our own architectural projects, uncovering problems to solve and challenges to meet”.