Huw Jones’ Photocurator and Curator Clip interchangeable picture frames have been described as ‘revolutionary’. Simple, clean and modern, they come in a range of sizes suitable for photos and artworks, fix to the wall without any nails, screws or other fixings, and are easily removed without leaving marks or residue. Genius!
Tell us about your involvement in the Curator Company. Is this a full time business or do you have other design projects that you work on. How did you get started in the design industry?
The Curator Company has been a full time business since 2010. My journey started back at Art School where I studied sculpture. After graduating I set up a furniture design studio with a couple of friends which led me to designing my furniture on a computer using 3D modeling and rendering software. This then led to working in design studios building virtual 3D spaces and user interfaces. After a number of years working in computer-based industries I decided it was time to go out on my own again and set up the Curator Company.
You first designed the Photocurator as a display system for your own images. Are you also a photographer, or do you like to collect works by other artists that you find inspiring?
I’m really only a photographer in the way that I like to take photos to document my life, especially now with a young family. When I was designing the Photocurator the photographs I was taking were mainly done with one of the first digital cameras – a Casio QV. These new cameras weren’t even up to one megapixel – I think they shot images that were 320 by 240 pixels. But they were so much fun, the lens could swivel so you could take group ‘selfies’ and the photo resolution was really grainy – we took so many photos – I suppose like people do with their phones now. Also at the time I was renting and I wanted to put some of these pictures up on my wall, which you can’t do. I suppose it just all came together and the Photocurator was born. I haven’t started collecting other artists’ work yet. There is a huge selection of websites out there for sourcing work that you like. Sites like Mammoth.co, Redbubble etc.
Back then in 2008, you described yourself as living a ‘somewhat transient lifestyle’ having spent the previous few years moving between rented apartments in Sydney, Singapore and New Zealand. Six years on, do you look back at that time as influential, beyond being the inspiration for the Curator Company’s products? How has it informed your design practice?
Well a lot of it is urban, apartment living. When you are working in a small inner city apartment or a nearby studio space you find that a lot of your prototyping has to be small and not too noisy to make. There is not much space in the inner suburbs of Sydney for a table saw or a spray painting booth (although I have tried). I usually start with a pencil and paper then move onto things like foam core or MDF – light materials that can be cut up and assembled easily. Once I have sorted out the proportions and function of the design I will then move onto building up the file on the computer and getting some smaller manufacturers to help out with a couple of one offs. The use of CNC machines, computer laser cutting, 3D printing, etc have been very handy when working in built up areas.
The Curator Company is based in Sydney, but you sell worldwide via your online store. How do people hear about your product overseas, and what makes it attractive to a global audience?
I think that because my products are very unique, that in the past they would have only been visible to a small design loving local audience. But because of the Internet it has become available to a large global group of design loving people are now not only able to find my designs but they can now order them from my website. After launching the Photocurator I got picked up by a few larger design blogs like Apartment Therapy and Designboom which then led to distribution agreements in the US and UK. I have only occasionally approached design blogs with my products, although it’s something I need to do more of (it’s on the list of things to do). It’s amazing how much traffic can be sent to your site from a large site/blog if you get featured on one.
Are you working on any new design ideas? What’s next for the Curator Company?
I am working on a new range of products where I can bring together my history and experience of designing furniture, sculpture and computer technology. By utilising computer sensors, cameras and wearable technology within the home there is so much potential. In August I will be part of and co-curating the PROTIoTYPE exhibition for Sydney Design 2015 where I will be exhibiting my first “tech furniture” prototypes.