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Exhibition to Showcase Local Creativity

26 Mar 2013

Reflections on his own childhood experiences inspired Oliver Ward's creativity when he was confronted to make a child's chair as part of his studies at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT).

Oliver, 27, of Heidelberg, a second-year student in the Diploma of Arts - Furniture Studies, at NMIT's Heidelberg campus, visited a local Banyule kindergarten as part of a student excursion to familiarise himself with a children's environment and their seating needs from an ergonomic perspective.

The visit sparked his recollections of 'drab furniture' during his own kindergarten experience as well as time spent playing with dinosaur skeletal models of balsa wood that challenged his artistry in creating a chair for a 1-6 yr old child.

Now, the chair he created will be on display at the Furnitex Design and Decoration Furnishings' Trade Exhibition at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre between the 19-22 July. Ten students from NMIT will showcase up to 20 original and diverse furniture designs at the exhibition.

Oliver's unique and original chair design, standing 50cms high and 50 cm deep, is based on the shape of a kangaroo with various pieces slotted together without mechanical fixings and only four small screws for added security.

Called 'Joey', the chair is made from dark green, recycled sheet plastic with its exposed edges rounded for safety.

'The kindergarten in Banyule was very multicultural and I wanted to create an Australian theme in the middle of it and used the Australian Made symbol of the dark green triangle with the yellow kangaroo as a basis for my design,' Oliver said.

'I also wanted to make something no one else had ever made before and have a design that was different. I still have a dinosaur model that had slotted in pieces that I put together as a child hanging off the ceiling in my bedroom so I turned to that for inspiration.'

Oliver said there were 10 pieces to the chair which was lightweight and could 'slide across a floor quite easily if moved around by a four-year old.

'It mimics a kangaroo in the design of its legs which angle out as a kangaroo's legs do. It looks like a simple construction but it was quite tricky to get the legs at the right angle.'

He added that despite the complexity of its initial design, it was easy to assemble and with supervision, young children could even put it together as they do with their slot-in toys.

And in maintaining an environmental consciousness, the chair could be later recycled after it passed its use-by date.

Oliver said the challenge was to make the chair 'look good as well as be functional; it's a bit quirky and shows off my personality as well.'

He will also exhibit a 150cm high shelving unit/room divider made from a series of eight hexagonal shaped modules also from recycled plastic sheets that are not screwed or bolted together but held in place by magnets.

'It's the ultimate knock down and moveable unit that you don't have to unscrew or unbolt like some modern furniture.'

Oliver added it was exciting to exhibit at Furnitex where industry representatives would see his designs and provide valuable feedback.


Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.