Heirloom of Practicality

I inherited these objects from a craftsman I never met, yet with whom I have so much in common.

Adrian Billings, my grandfather, was an engineer in the British Navy; he emigrated to Tasmania after the second world war. Adrian died in a car crash a few short months before I was born. Those close to the family would often – not always jokingly – hint at a possible reincarnation.

As a child I would walk into his workshop, which was left untouched, everything in its place other than a few tools arrayed across the bench-top as though he had just stepped away moments ago, not years earlier. The desire to create, make and mend has been passed on through our genes – grandfather to grandson – if not through time spent together. His tools have also been passed down.

The old adage, ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ couldn’t be more appropriate than with these tools. Despite the passing decades, they reveal no fault in accuracy and remain a fine work of design. They have been my constant companion throughout my education and career as a furniture designer. A great confidence fills me when I reach for these tried-and-tested tools of yesteryear, knowing all that was built before by those who came before.

I have brought these tools back to England from Tasmania. Where they go next… who knows.

Brodie Neill

Brodie Neill is renowned for creating striking, sinuous and sculptural designs ingrained in material research, technical rigour and digital innovation. A University of Tasmania and Rhode Island School of Design graduate, Brodie gained immediate industry acclaim at the global launch of his debut designs resulting in inclusion in TIME Magazine’s Design 100: the most influential designs.

Brodie represented Australia at the inaugural London Design Biennale in 2016 at Somerset House where he presented the now-iconic Gyro table which highlights the issue of ocean plastic waste. Gyro was acquired by National Gallery of Victoria for its permanent collection and exhibited at the recent NGV Triennial. A champion of using design to combat ocean plastic waste, Brodie has spoken at the European Union Parliament and the United Nations.

In 2013, Brodie founded Made in Ratio, an innovative yet enduring contemporary furniture collection which harnesses nature's perfection of ratio and proportion. The collection is forged from the desire to take exceptional ideas from inception to production by embracing advanced technologies and enhancing traditional techniques.

Critically acclaimed through awards and publications, the collection includes the now-iconic Cowrie chair, recognised for its curvilinear monocoque form, and the critically acclaimed Alpha in 2015, a stacking chair with a sculptural silhouette that embraces natural design and honest craftsmanship. Exuding originality and elegance, both designs are celebrated in Taschen’s 1000 Chairs.

Brodie has worked with an impressive roster of clients, collaborating with international brands including Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz, Alexander McQueen and Swarovski. His limited-edition works are included in museums, galleries and private collections around the globe.