When David Caon and Henry Wilson first crossed paths at a design event in Sydney about three years ago, the conversation quickly accelerated from general chit-chat to very specific commentary on store-bought vertical shelving hardware. Not an overly surprising topic for two of Australia’s finest design talents whose collective creativity knows no bounds. David is perhaps best-known for his collaborations with Qantas airlines which inspired the Bloc series of module furniture. Henry’s experimentation with sand-cast bronze and aluminium pieces propelled him into the spotlight, as did his store fit-out and oil-burner design for beauty mecca Aesop.
The two designers spoke of encasing ubiquitous metal shelving components in high-quality timber – more specifically, oak and walnut – and how this combination of materials could bring a sophisticated edge to a sensible, albeit unattractive system.
Their vision continued: By pairing the timber-clad strips with sleek joinery pieces, consumers would be further armed with the desire to dismantle the storage unit and take it to their next address rather than leave it behind to a fate unknown. “David and I were thinking that people often ditch the built-in joinery when they move home, leaving it to the next people as part of the permanent fixtures and fittings,” says Henry.
In that moment, a new product was born. As was a bright new business venture.
David and Henry joined forces to form the brand Laker. The wall-mounted Continental Shelf storage system – the fruit of their serendipitous meeting – is the label’s first joint-designed product. “We tend to complement each other. I come at things from more of an art practice, while David sees things from a more industrial design perspective,” says Henry who, like David, continues to operate his independent design studio while also developing Laker.
Continental Shelf sees vertical timber-clad strips partner with a seemingly endless array of shelf supports, shelves and pegboard panels. Stylish timber joinery pieces, again in oak or walnut, bring closed-door storage potential to the versatile system. An optional brass cocktail cabinet and writing desk lend the piece to countless uses, including residential applications as more people combine home-life with work and play during the Covid-19 pandemic. “If things change, you just dismantle the desk and store it under your bed,” says Henry. As for the cocktail cabinet, happy hour at home looks solidly placed on the calendar for years to come.
Continental Shelf joins Henry’s growing A-joint range which now also falls under the Laker brand, as does David’s ‘Rake’ stacking chair. Laker is available in Australia from Living Edge.
We tend to complement each other. I come at things from more of an art practice, while David sees things from a more industrial design perspective.