Nic Graham: The Versatility of the QT/Chillax Collection
TLmag caught up with designer and architect Nic Graham to talk about his collaboration with Stellar Works and the resulting QT/Chillax Collection.
It is not surprising to learn that Australian designer, Nic Graham favours a
hands-on approach to projects and an appreciation for collaborations with
architects, artisans, furniture makers, or landscape designers. His layered and creative vision of design is unencumbered by trends or current design ethos, but based in his own vision which is unafraid to embrace a mix of styles and genres to create environments that are stylish, just the right touch of eclectic, and above all warm and welcoming. TLmag caught up with Graham to talk about his collaboration with Stellar Works — which began in 2012 with his work on the QT Hotel in Sydney. The collaboration, resulting in the QT/Chillax collection, embodies the technology and craftsmanship of Stellar Works in a clever collection of furniture that references Scandinavian mid-century design as well as the relaxed and playful attitude found in the Australian lifestyle. The collection was designed for the QT Brand but because of its versatility, it has since been used in many other hospitality projects in the region.
How and when did your collaboration with Stellar Works begin? From a designer’s perspective, how does Stellar Works stand out as a design company and manufacturer?
Nic Graham (NG): We met at a hotel design conference five years ago. At the time we were completing the QT hotel in Sydney. Out of that came a collaboration on many furniture pieces. The QT chair was born. I was drawn to their philosophy and aesthetic, attention to detail and ability to see refinement and elegance in vintage inspired furniture making.
Could you elaborate on the QT/Chillax collection—its inspiration, how it came to be, and how it was informed by the craftsmanship and technologies available with Stellar Works?
NG: The QT chair was born from the need for a vintage-inspired chair for our hotel. The bronze upholstery studs, smooth walnut timber arm and brass detailing were part of our desire to adhere to a vintage modern aesthetic. The Chillax was a more contemporary design that used the same base as the QT chair. A moulded shape with a high and low back was seen as a modern family, with a sexy silhouette suitable for hotel projects. I always try and make the back look nice (through) details, hence the common brass bracket and screw that we use on each chair.
How does Stellar Works and its unique cross-cultural position with Chinese, Japanese, and French heritage, bring something new to the hospitality industry? How do you see it connecting with the Australian market?
NG: As a country, we are very familiar with a cross cultural mix in our society. As in design, we share influences from our neighbours and our ancestors. For our studio (Nic Graham & Associates), its important that we show that good original design can easily be realized through our collaboration with Stellar Works, in a world that is full of copies, much of which is generated in China. The construction techniques represented in past and present collections allow our designs to carry more detail, more character and more individual style as a result of the well founded knowledge within the Stellar Works company.
What is your perception of Shanghai as a megacity compared to say New York or Sydney?
NG: I adore the big Asian cities and the crazy mix of new and old. I’m saddened to see some of the original village streets and markets be demolished for new development. All cities need grit and polish, old and new. Shanghai is enormous and offers amazing opportunities in design. The Bund is a perfect example of previous generations and the cross cultural mix of East and West.
What would be your ‘dream’ Stellar Works project?
NG: It was always my dream to be a hotel designer and travel the world as result. The collaboration with Stellar Works has allowed me to start a collection of pieces that not only feature in my own hotel projects, but in many others as well. This in itself, is a dream fulfilled.