The VIVID Design Awards at Decor + Design has become a recognised springboard for the brightest talents in Australian design, with the standard higher than ever in 2022. Billie Civello impressed the VIVID judges with The Bareback Stool, a piece which fuses Modernist and organic design sensibilities in steely fashion.

Image: Billie Civello

Billie is a designer-maker based in Melbourne on the lands of the Kulin Nation. Graduating recently from an Associate degree of Furniture Design at RMIT, their reductionist approach to materials allows their work to be dismantled or recycled for future use. This allows them to explore steel, Perspex, recycled clothing and plaster to create objects and furnishings.

At VIVID, Billie won the Authentic Design Alliance (ADA) Award of Merit for The Bareback Stool. We spoke to Billie about their journey into the design world and why VIVID Design Awards is an important accelerator for emerging talent.

Billie, what has your journey entailed to become a designer maker? When did you first become interested in design?

Previous to formal education I was passionate about collecting and restoring furniture, which I think is where my interest in understanding materials and design began. I have always been a hands-on person, so I was attracted to learning skills where I could use my hands and gain practical knowledge.

Fleur Stool by Billie Civello

I started becoming more involved in design in 2019 when I began the Associate Degree of Furniture Design at RMIT, from which I graduated in 2021.

How would you describe your design approach and aesthetic?

Having studied a design-based degree I feel as though I was taught to be outcome driven, meaning I would have finalised designs and drawings before beginning to physically prototype.

More recently I have been experimenting with process-based design methods; trying to forsake outcomes in order to explore form and function as they arise organically.

Typically, inspiration for me comes from whatever I am coveting on a day-to-day basis: architectural fittings, urban features, natural landscapes and formations are all sources of inspiration for me.

My aesthetic has taken influence from modernism though it is becoming more organic as my practice evolves.

Your piece The Bareback Stool received an ADA Award of Merit. Can you tell us about the ideation and creation of this piece?

The initial idea for this piece came from a trip to Mt Buffalo, where large granite spires and boulders scatter the landscape. Through The Bareback Stool I wanted to explore textures that emulated those granite forms; coarse, undulating, and kinaesthetically pleasing.

The Bareback Stool by Billie Civello. Image: Zen Pang @simplyxen

As well as including natural motifs, I was attracted to a stark, brutalist form for the stool. This stool for me is a nexus between urbanised and natural elements.

Dichot Lamp by Billie Civello

All of my ideas start out as a rudimentary sketch, and then I use 3D software to finetune dimensions and scale, then often there is some physical prototyping with cardboard or scrap materials before the first prototype is made.

What current projects are you working on? What’s next?

At the moment I am working on a lighting concept that involves using offcuts and waste materials from manufacturers. It’s designed to disassemble and will be part of an ongoing collection. I’m aiming to release the first iterations in November this year.

As well as designing, I am continuing to explore casting methods in my workshop and working on gaining skills in metalworking.

Why are the VIVID Design Awards important for Australian emerging designers?

“I think giving a platform for young and emerging designers to showcase their work is important because otherwise so much work and creativity would go unseen. Awards like VIVID give designers an opportunity for wider audiences to see their work in a well curated and professional setting.”

Entries for VIVID 2023 are now open, closing April 14! Download the entry kit here.

Plus, register as a trade visitor to Decor + Design to see the 20th anniversary edition of VIVID Design Awards, Australia’s longest running competition for emerging designers, as well as leading exhibitors across indoor and outdoor furniture, soft furnishings, textiles, kitchens and bathrooms, lighting, art and more.