INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS & SUREEN
20 May 2020
'At Gingerfinch, we pride ourselves on offering the best Australian-made design our country has to offer. But there are some items we can't seem to find fabulous, local options for. Clocks were a big one - we knew our customers wanted them, but Aussie-made clocks were nowhere to be found.
Then TOO Designs burst onto the scene, wowing us with their bold, geometric and wholly unique clocks and art. The brand is defined by functionality and interactivity, offering Australian-made clocks (with German mechanisms) and art that really turns heads'
The clever Two-Tone clocks comprise of two powder-coated aluminum parts, allowing you to design your perfect clock from the beautiful range of TOO-selected colours. While the gorgeous Minimal range is perfect for those who love sleek and subtle design.
TOO Designs is the brainchild of South African architect couple, Sureen and Thomas Gouws. They migrated to Australia in 2017 - settling in the stunning Mornington Penisular - and were inspired to shift their practice from architecture to art and design. It's clear, though, that their architectural roots greatly influence their design approach.
WE SAT DOWN WITH SUREEN AND THOMAS TO FIND OUT THE STORY BEHIND THEIR BRAND
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DESIGN AESTHETIC
TOO's aesthetic is characterised by clean architectural lines, simple geometric shapes and bold playful colours. We aim to create interactive products that involve the customer in the creative process, leaving room for personalisation. A fresh, unique approach is important to us; we want our products to be innovative and timeless. We also emphasise the 'play' element in our products - we aim to make them fun to use.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR DOWNTIME?
We’re both introverts. Our favourite guilty pleasure is having a great lunch and glass of wine at one of the beautiful wine estates on the Mornington Peninsula. To unwind we love to take the kids for a late afternoon play on the beach close to our home and watch the sun set over the water. Being close to nature and having quality family time helps keep us grounded.
WHAT’S THE FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR HOME AND WHY?
Our lounge, where we can cosy up in front of the fireplace on a cold rainy day and enjoy the beautiful green view our house overlooks.
WHAT ARE 3 THINGS YOU DO TO LEAVE THE EARTH IN A BETTER STATE THAN WHEN YOU ARRIVED?
We’re conscious about recycling and not over-consuming. We strive to buy quality items that would last a lifetime rather than ending up in landfill in a year or two. We also eat organic produce where we can – it’s better for the environment and our health!
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Achievements are great, but make time for the things that really matters in life. Success is about balance. Gratitude and mindfulness is key.
WHAT IS YOUR SUPERPOWER?
For both of us, determination is probably our superpower (and sometimes biggest weakness!) – once we’ve set our goals, we don’t give up easily.
READ OUR STORY ON THE GINGERFINCH JOURNAL
NEW BREED SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS: TOO DESIGNS
Hot of the back of being awarded the Life Instyle New Breed scholarship, this dynamic design duo aspire to echo their award-winning success by establishing TOO designs as a well known and loved brand within the Australian design community.
With a lifelong passion for art and design, Thomas & Sureen Gouws decided it was time to pursue a different career path. Immigrating to Australia two years ago with their two young daughters, Lana & Kayla, the couple sought a more balanced lifestyle around family. Having done the hard yards through nearly two decades in architecture, culminating in a multi-award wining practice in Pretoria, South Africa, the birth of TOO designs was a natural next step.
Their design style was always characterised by clean architectural lines and simple geometric shapes. This is reflected in the designs of their inspired graphic art series, which invites the owner to create their own designs with metallic, magnetic components. "As with architecture, which is always a collaboration between architect and client, we aim to create products that involve our customers in the creative process and leaves room for personalisation" says the couple.
Navigating two creative brains comes naturally to the couple, who's processes have evolved over years of working together to allow them to work effectively as a team. Starting their week with a quick planning session to outline the week's work goals, the couple are "very much in sync" creatively and work beautifully together across all facets of the business. "As typical creatives, admin is our least favourite part of the job, so we usually just slay the dragon and get it over and done with. Early afternoons are usually spent in our warehouse producing and packing orders."
The plan is working, affording them the lifestyle balance they yearned for, without compromising on creativity or integrity of their design practice. "We are very fortunate that working together has always been very easy for us, and value the fact that is allows us to spend so much time together. We are usually in agreement on design decisions and rarely have opposing views. We also make time for creating our own independent artworks as artist, which allow us to express our creativity individually."
"The Life Instyle New Breed Scholarship is an extraordinary opportunity for us to present our products to Australian retailers. With the amazing exposure the scholarship provides and the guidance of expert mentors, it is really the ideal opportunity for any start-up business to prepare for their first trade show and successfully establish themselves in the industry. We're looking forward to interacting with retailers, getting their feedback and establishing lost of meaningful business connections."
"Late afternoon is family time and we love to take the kids for a play on the beach close to our home and watch the sun set over the water. Being close to nature helps to keep us grounded and see the bigger picture in life. It's all about balance."
Thomas & Sureen Gouws