Who would have thought the words intelligent 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, “Avalon”, exemplifies 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, setting the direction for his future furniture design and building business in stone. Moving to Australia in 2009 was an eye-opener for Adrian Lawson. Roadside rubbish collections were full of products and materials begging to be reinvented. But the quality timber Venetian blinds discarded by renovators stood out to his designer eye.
Working from his home-based workshop in Avalon Beach, Adrian manufactures most of the “Avalon” upcycled lighting components himself, sourcing the rest through local Australian-based manufacturers. Each Avalon light is flat packed, making for easy and economical shipping, with just a few pieces 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 excellent 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 raised in a remote rural area where recycling is regular, so I cannot bear to see such a good quality resource going to waste.
How did you develop 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 skyscrapers such as Harry Seidlers Australia Square, which has long, narrow vertical columns running their entire length.
The blinds are relatively easy to find because Australians throw a lot out, so I pick up quite a few from the side of the road. I have also partnered with a local blind repair/manufacturer that passes all the old used wood slats to me rather than sending them to a 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 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 you are trying to evolve.
What can we expect from Adrian Lawson Designs over the next 12 months?
I am growing my range of lighting products from upcycled Venetian blinds to floor lamps, table lamps, and shades in different colors.
How can we purchase your sustainable designs? Are they available in different sizes/colors?
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 colors, Blue, grass green, and beige, and its diffusers are either transparent (opaque) or white.