Designing the Future: A Conversation with Brodie Neill

The Supernova table, part of Made in Ratio’s debut collection designed by Brodie Neill, has already been lauded in design circles. Image courtesy Made in Ratio.Launched just this spring, Made in Ratio has quickly begun making a name for itself in the design world. The London-based company’s Supernova table garnered a Product of the Year Award and the firm itself was heralded as Newcomer of the Year at the Mixology Awards, work in the contract field. The collection started off big, with creative director Brodie Neill creating a range of seating, lighting, tables and storage that play with color, form and material. Today, we’re delighted to share Brodie’s thoughts on becoming a designer and his design process as part of our series highlighting younger designers. If you’re in London next month for the Design Festival, Made in Ratio will be showing at designjunction. Stop by and check out the pieces. 

What inspired you to become a designer?

It was a gradual evolution rather than a sudden awakening. I was always creative and building furniture was a passion of mine as a teenager. I loved learning about how things went together and then reworking them. The decision to pursue a career in design was a natural progression from what I loved most. It just made sense. 

Describe your aesthetic in 3 words . . . 

Organic, sculptural, tactile. The designs are visually provocative but also engaging to the user.  

Where did you learn your craft? 

I grew up in Tasmania and studied product design there with a very hands-on, artisanal approach. The emphasis was on being a designer-maker and producing your own designs. You learned how to bring your ideas into being along the way and that’s stayed with me. As my designs are quite experimental in form, they are also quite experimental in how they’re made. As you design the form you’re also designing the process. I also did a master’s degree in the US and studied more digitally. Being able to explore complex 3D forms and virtual depth really expands the imagination. It’s good to learn how what you see on screen will sit in a physical space. 

Made in Ratio’s Creative director Brodie Neill. Image courtesy Made in Ratio.

How did Made in Ratio come about?

Made in Ratio came about after a series of conversations between myself and a colleague about starting a new kind of design company. Made in Ratio offers an opportunity to take a collection of designs right through from inception from production.We’re aiming to deliver intelligent design directly to our customers, unencumbered by industry conventions. A lot of my designs really do re-think the production process and often that sort of engineering task involves a bit of head scratching and extra thought. Sometimes when you’re challenged the end result is more interesting. 

Can you give an example of that from the launch collection?  

The plywood chaise and chair go beyond what is expected of a plywood piece. We experimented with folding it in on itself to make entirely self-supporting, organic shapes. It took quite a while to find a production partner who would take on such a project. Fortunately we found someone who was as adventurous as us. People are often reticent to move beyond what they already know.

What sets Made in Ratio apart from other design brands? 

Our approach is what differentiates us from other design studios. We follow things to the Nth degree to seek perfection. Hard sweat and toil are involved. It’s almost like the design goes further because it doesn’t just stop at an idea. It actually is seen through the entire process of prototyping, production and design. Recently, We’ve been really toiling to get a lamp right, going through every component, laboring each bit. We tried to rush the last piece and we looked at it said ‘no, no. The bottom bit’s got to be as perfect as the rest.’ And then, of course, we started re-evaluating the whole thing from the top down!  

Who are your design heroes?

I always admire people who work tirelessly to achieve perfection, like the Eames’.  

What do hope your design legacy will be?

I hope Made in Ratio will become known as a source of well designed, innovative, beautifully made pieces that push the envelope in terms of what furniture can be. 














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