Thomas Maxam is a Melbourne-based design studio, creating the handmade glass vases of our dreams. The 'Abominations', a series of single bud flower vases, celebrate the ugly side of creation. However, the only ugly part of the candy coloured future-heirlooms is our crying face when the vases sell out while we were still deciding which one to choose!
We caught up with Thomas, one half of the brains behind the Abominations, on collaboration, creativity and supporting your local flower grower.
Hi Thomas, our series is called Meet the Maker - what is it that you make?
We design objects that are intended to become a permanent fixture of your interior landscape.
Please tell us about your journey to Thomas Maxam - Did you study?
We met at university where we both studied Industrial Design. We started collaborating on design pieces for competitions, which then evolved into our studio today.
When was the 'Aha moment' when you realised you needed to collaborate?
I read an article about a very successful design duo that realised why they should collaborate, stating " it was difficult to tell whose work was the final outcome". I feel our collaboration started similarly; we just help each other out on separate ideas to the point they start to become ours and it's never stopped.
Thomas Maxam Abominations available here.
Is it true you hadn't blown glass before?! Tell us everything! What drew you to glass as a medium?
That's true, we have no training or would even say we know how to blow glass. We have a strong understanding of manufacturing and process, from both our studies and working in the design industry. Glass seemed to be so separate to other materials and the process is incredibly exciting. Glass is pretty unforgiving, you can't just sand it back like you can with timber. As we experimented with glass we had to embrace its unpredictability as we didn't have the skills to produce an elegant/refined form.
Your abominations are such a joyful aesthetic - what inspired you to create them?
The name "Abomination" came to us when we first started developing the idea. As you know the first attempts at anything are never your best. Finally we wanted to celebrate the ugly side of creation. We feel Abomination is owning the imperfections of the vase. We aren't trained glass blowers and don't pretend as though we have crafted a beautiful product. In a way the Abomination is somewhat beautiful as a sculptural glass object, playfully interacting with the world around it.
You invite your customer to use them as a single stem vase - what is your favourite flower to style them with?
As classic as they are, Daffodils work pretty well. They're small, long stemmed with such a vibrancy to them. Buying in season, locally grown flowers is both sensible for the air miles on imported blooms and to support the local growers.
Thomas Maxam's Melbourne Studio
What does a work day in the life of Thomas Maxam HQ look like?
We both work for other design studios, so most things are done in the evenings and over the weekend. We have done a lot of the photography ourselves but during this lockdown there have been a number of generous photographers who have helped us out.
What are some things you need to have around you to feel inspired and happy at work?
Food and music, I can't work in a quiet studio or on an empty stomach.
Can you share some of the highlights and challenges of managing a collaboration?
Collaborating isn't easy but we have developed a really strong shorthand. Even when we don't see the design the same way, the design ends up being better because of that tension and the collaboration being challenged to explore the design further.
Thomas Maxam Abominations available here
What’s your favourite part about running a business?
Meeting people! The creative community are so driven and inspiring. These relationships have pushed us to work harder and create more.
It’s been seven months since Melbourne first locked down amidst this global pandemic, how have the lock downs impacted the way you work?
We have had to do everything apart, which has been a strain on our design process. There have been a few couriers darting between our houses as we live 5km apart. But there has also been a lot of kindness throughout this lockdown. We have collaborated with a number of incredibly talented photographers who have offered up their time to shoot our pieces.
What are some of your favourite self care practices and mood boosters?
Sunshine, family & friends. When we can, we would love to get everyone down to the beach. That would definitely boost the mood.
Thomas Maxam Abominations available here