Cheese Companions is the result of a unique ‘co-lab’. The exquisite, limited-edition wooden cheese board by internationally renowned designer and maker Jon Goulder is accompanied by a set of three handmade cheese tools by Canberra’s award-winning gold and silversmith Alison Jackson. Only 10 cheese companions have been made in the collaboration between the two Australian artists who work in different genres, with different materials, and in different parts of the country. Wendy Johnson spoke with artist Jon Goulder and AGENCY about the co-lab project.
AGENCY introduced the designers, inspiring them to pool their talents around the nation’s love of food. “It’s about a feast for the eyes. About plating and the tools we serve and eat with,” says Halie Rubenis, Agency’s Business Development and Retail Manager.
Jon’s cheese board, made of solid timber with a Corian disk, that can be removed for cleaning, inserted into one corner, is food safe and hygienic. Five boards have been made in a light Tasmanian Oak and five in a dark Toasted American Ash. The Corian discs are available in a white finish and a black finish. Alison’s three stainless steel knives, with the folds in each pressed by hand, include a hard cheese, soft cheese and spreading knife. They’re designed for everyday use, but to last a lifetime.
So what has driven AGENCY, an initiative of Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre, to spearhead its own co-labs? “We’re passionate about connecting our members with the best designers in Australia so they can put ideas on the table, make connections, expand horizons, participate in cross-disciplinary collaborative projects and make beautiful things,” says Halie. “It’s about sharing insights into how design really works. It’s about promoting and enhancing professional practice. And then who knows what will happen?”
Jon was attracted to the idea of using two materials for the cheeseboard. “The Corian disk is non-porous and an inert material,” says the designer maker. “I thought it would be cool to put the cheese on the round part and use the timber part to cut bread and present crackers.”
When he first received Alison’s set of cheese knives, Jon sat them in his studio to get to know them over several weeks. “I would glance at them and took time for matters to gestate,” says Jon. “A cheeseboard may seem simple to design, but this one is a ‘reaction’ to Alison’s knives. They’re the star.”
Although the prototype for the cheeseboard was designed in Adelaide, where Jon lives (and works as Creative Director of The Furniture Studio at Adelaide’s Jam Factory), they were produced in Canberra at the Digital Fabrication Lab, The Australian National University Furniture Workshop.
AGENCY sells the work of an intriguing selection of local and national Australian artists and designers, each handpicked and each with a story to tell. “We don’t sell anything that is mass produced so every time you come here you’ll see something different,” says Halie. “It’s about the artists and what they’re immersed in at any time. And with the lifestyle … we want people to think about where they invest their money and to support local.”
Halie says plans for the next CO-LAB are already underway. In the meantime, Cheese Companions is on display at, and available for sale exclusively through, AGENCY, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon (open Wed to Sun).
All images by Thea McGrath including drawings and prototypes