Who would have thought the words smart design and venetian blinds could be used in the same sentence? Sydney based Adrian Lawson is the person who has made this possible, taking what was a dust collecting popular 90’s window furnishing, and turning it into something far removed from its original function. His debut lighting collection named “Avalon”, is an example of how a little initiative and imagination can make sustainable design shine.
Growing up in Colonsay, a remote island off the west coast of Scotland laid the foundations for this designer’s keen eye for making the best of limited resources available. Recycling, improvising and making do was an intrinsic part of island living, which set in stone the direction for his future furniture design and building business. Moving to Australia in 2009 was an eye opener for Adrian Lawson. Roadside rubbish collections were full of all manner of products and materials that were begging to be reinvented. But it was the quality timber venetian blinds discarded by renovators that were a particular stand out to his designer eye.
Working from his home based workshop in Avalon Beach, Adrian manufactures the majority of the “Avalon” upcycled lighting components himself, sourcing the rest through local Australian based manufacturers. Each of the Avalon lights is flat packed, making for easy and economical shipping with just a few components required for easy assembly. We are excited to see Adrian’s first design launch in Australia, and can’t wait to see what innovative upcycled sustainable designs he comes up with next! Stay tuned and find out more about him in our interview below.
What influenced you to use recycled materials in your designs? Why is it important to you?
When I was removing some old blinds from my house I noticed the good quality of the wood components and it came to my attention Australians throw out a lot of used blinds.
It’s important to me because I was brought up in a remote rural area where recycling is normal, so I cannot bear to see such a good quality resource going to waste.
How did you come up with the idea to recycle venetian blinds in particular? Are they difficult to source?
Once I dismantled some old blinds and studied the components I started wondering what they could be used for and lighting seemed the obvious choice as that’s what they are used for in the first place. The actual design of the shades is based on my interest in architecture particularly sky scrapers such as Harry Seidlers Australia Square which has long narrow vertical columns running its full length.
The blinds are not too difficult to find because Australians throw a lot out which means I pick up quite a few from the side of the road. I have also set up a partnership with a local blind repair/manufacturer that passes all the old used wood slats to me rather than sending them to landfill. This was a crucial aspect of the business because it allowed a supply chain to be set up.
What is the most unusual thing you have upcycled into another creation?
The most unusual thing probably was a bed I built from recycled railway sleepers with inbuilt lights in the bedhead.
What advice can you give to others looking to upcycle?
When you get an idea remember that it is just the first step to what might be a great product. Start prototyping but don’t worry too much about the quality at this stage, it’s the design process which you are trying to evolve.
What can we expect to see from Adrian Lawson Designs over the next 12 months?
I am trying to grow my range of lighting products from upcycled venetian blinds to include floor lamps, table lamps and more shades in different colours.
How can we purchase your sustainable designs? Are they available in different sizes/colours?
My first product, The Avalon Pendant shade comes in one size 390mm long X 210mm diameter.
It is available in two recycled timbers, cedar and basswood. Its plastic components come in three colours, Blue, grass green and beige and its diffusers are either clear (opaque) and white.
This means it’s available in twelve variations, all available on my website.
Interested in sustainable lighting design? You can view more of our lighting design stories here.