On the Fly

Furniture designer Leo Wolff makes 100 prototypes in 100 days.

On the Fly

Furniture designer Leo Wolff makes 100 prototypes in 100 days.

Tell us how the prototype project started.

Furniture designer’s block is just like writer’s block, only three dimensional. Just as any experienced writer knows, the muse only shows up when you show up. And the best way to show up is to make it a daily practice.

I had always dreamed of doing something prolific. A series of serendipitous events, fuelled by a total lack of common sense, led me to commit. Sometimes unbridled enthusiasm and lack of experience can be your biggest ally. 

What did you hope to do?

I’m still relatively green in the field of furniture design, so this challenge was as much about refining and exploring my style as it was about filling a showroom with inspiring pieces.

I’m humbled and inspired by the skill of many designers and craftspeople. So I guess this project has also been about sharing that inspiration and possibility with others, as much as it has been about developing myself.

Where did you start and how long did it take?

Unlike my formalised design process, I often started prototypes with nothing but ideas and a loose sketch, refining as I went, and working with timber I had on hand. 

Many pieces were made using building waste and offcuts. The materials played a big part in influencing the final form.

Aside from publishing a piece daily, the varying and explorative nature of each piece meant timeframes were a complete wildcard. Accurately scoping new projects on the fly while working on them and juggling commission work and setting up a showroom/workshop is not a sane business practice. 

Did you have some projects in mind up front?

Yes, although not in clearly defined plans. There were many vague ideas or aesthetic styles I wanted to explore, but nothing concrete. Designing on the fly can work beautifully if you learn to relax into the process and accept that things might not turn out exactly as you had envisioned.

Any failures?

Every day has been a dance between the feelings of absolute frustration and perspicacious acceptance of the realities of furniture design.

What have you learned?

There’s real power in process. You can achieve a lot more than you might realise when you dedicate yourself to a sound daily ritual over the pursuit of perfection. Also, you will never have enough tools, and that is okay. I’m still coming to terms with the latter.


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