10 years ago, in their final semester of university, Sarah Gibson and Nick Karlovasitis began brainstorming an idea for a business. Studying industrial design they were surrounded by young furniture designers chasing representation from companies overseas. It was a tough slog! So they decided to create DesignByThem, a brand that promoted Australian design and provided a viable platform for designers.
Designing furniture themselves and collaborating with a stellar cohort of Australian designers; as the brand have grown in size, so too have their products. “Initially we designed mainly smaller accessories – maybe because we were designing out of an apartment and couldn’t fit anything else,” explains Sarah. “But slowly, as we kept moving to bigger and bigger spaces our products have become bigger too. The Cabin range is sure proof of that!”
Working from home for the business’ first few months, storage was at a premium, with the garage stocked full of prototypes. Time was spent designing and raising awareness, so that DesignByThem could reach their goal of supporting fellow designers. “The scale of our collection is really what we’ve focused on over the years,” says Sarah. “Development started slowly and sped up as we surrounded ourselves with a great network of talented designers, manufacturers and staff.”
With some 70 designs in their collection, featuring the work of Aussie talents like Stefan Lie, Trent Jansen, Tommy Cehak and many more, DesignByThem creates products that are consistent and true to their design ethos. “Rather than seeking to stand out we seek to be a brand with longevity,” explains Sarah. “Hopefully with products that are original and timeless, although this is a very hard thing to do. We plan to be around for a long time, and hope our considered approach is respected in the long term too.”
Their broad range makes it’s hard to pick a favourite, but for Sarah, it’s the Butter Stool and Cabin Lounge: “For its playfulness, comfort and flexibility.” While for Nick, it’s the Piper Chair and the TomTom Letterbox (which Jen has and adores!): “I love the way people love this product, it’s endearing to see people’s reactions to it. This was also our first collaboration, with designer Tommy Cehak, who came up with the concept of people wanting to represent their style at the front gate.”
Now gaining traction overseas, particularly in the US, DesignByThem has some exciting prospects for the next 10 years and beyond. “We’ve seen the business move gradually to the overseas market so we’re excited to see where this takes us,” says Sarah. “We’ve also got some exciting new collections and collaborations happening early next year and plan on continuing the current momentum of designs and ideas.”
Photography by Pete Daly