While most crafts-persons might have an eye for detail, Hobart-based Duncan Meerding is one designer who has an ear for detail. Diagnosed in 2005 with a degenerative eye condition that left him legally blind within twelve months, Meerding now has less than 5% vision in the peripheral field in both eyes. He describes it as putting your fists in front of your face and using only your periphery to see what lies in front of you. With sight taken out of the equation, Meerding makes full use of touch and sound to design and craft his items.
It is fascinating to look at his creations, not just because they are unbelievably beautiful, but also since they are an expression of how he sees the world—fluid lines on minimalist objects. A graduate in furniture design from the University of Tasmania, Meerding was always particularly interested in the way light worked around an object, not within. The idea of translucency seems conflicting with sturdy, opaque wood but Duncan Meerding brought the two together effortlessly in the form of simple logs which emit light from their natural cracks. These lamps are as unexpected as they are beautiful. Peruse through the gallery above to see these lamps in action but be warned, they might make you head to his online shop and purchase some immediately.
His love for the Tasmanian wilderness is reflected in his work which combines traditional wood joinery techniques with modern methods. One look at his Instagram feed will tell you that his minimalist designs combine functionality with simplistic beauty. In order to preserve the environment which inspires him so, Meerding uses sustainably sourced timber for his designs.
His design process is quite intriguing–he works with the help of a talking tape measure which he calls his ‘old mate’ and a tactile depth gauge. He feels along the grain of the wood with his fingers and listens closely to the chisel’s sounds to judge when it is not working properly. By using salvaged logs which would have otherwise been burnt, he makes light emanate through wood—something which would never be thought of as bright and illuminating in normal circumstances. Meerding embraces the cracks that are mostly avoided in ligneous designs.
‘My work should not merely be seen as something that looks nice, it should remind us of our intrinsic connection with nature and the effect that we have upon it,’ he writes on his website. Working predominantly with timber, Meerding finds inspiration for his creations from the organic forms found in nature. While his furniture is understandably influenced by his vision loss, Duncan Meerding is one designer who proves that you don’t need to see to create, just feel.