We've recently been interviewed by one of our Japanese stockists, Logan Atelier. Get to know us a bit better with these questions and answers.
Firstly, please tell us a little about yourselfWe are husband and wife team Thomas & Sureen Gouws. We are both qualified architects. With a lifelong passion for art and design, we decided it was time to pursue a different career path. Immigrating to Australia nearly three years ago with our two young daughters, Lana & Kayla, we sought a more balanced lifestyle around family. Having done the hard yards through nearly two decades in architecture, culminating in a multi-award winning practice in Pretoria, South Africa, the birth of TOO Designs was a natural next step.
Exploring Melbourne - left - Federation Square. middle - Flinders street station. right - SouthbankTell us about your countryAlthough we’ll probably always consider ourselves South Africans at heart, we feel so lucky and privileged to be able to call Australia home and to raise our children in this great country. We live just outside of Melbourne on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. Melbourne is a truly amazing city and it is not hard to see why it is rated as one of the most live-able cities in the world. We opted to live in the tranquillity of the countryside where we could be close to nature, but within easy reach of all the exciting things the city has to offer - we have the best of both worlds.What do you enjoy the most lately? / what do you do on weekends?Weekends are usually family time and we love to take the kids for a play on the beach close to our home. Being close to nature helps to keep us grounded and see the bigger picture in life. It's all about balance.
Mornington Peninsula beaches - left - Cape Shank. middle - Gunnamatta. right - Rosebud (Photos by Thomas Gouws)
Where did the brand name come from?As with architecture, which is always a collaboration between architect and client, we aimed from the start to create products that involve our customers in the creative process and leaves room for personalisation. The name “TOO” Designs express this ethos; We want our customers to be designers/artists “too”.What was the trigger to be a designer / what made you decide to be a designer?There wasn’t any specific trigger for either of us. It is just something that comes naturally, something inside of us that drives us to create.Are there any designers/designs/art that has influenced you?We are influenced by all fields of design from architecture, product design, art, sculpture and even fashion. Everything we design or create is informed by our interpretation of the visual world around us.
Favourite Melbourne Galleries & Museums - left - National Gallery of Victoria. middle - Ian Potter Centre. right - Melbourne Museum (Photos by Thomas Gouws)Tell us about your current activitiesWe start a typical week with a quick planning session to outline the week's work goals. We 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. We set out a couple of days each month to brainstorm and work on new product ideas.We also make time for creating our independent artworks as artists, which allow us to express our creativity individually.Tell us what you care about and valueIn a world driven by mass consumption, we value quality. We advocate investing in a few well crafted timeless pieces that you will still love years from now instead of cluttering your life with mass-produced products that are likely to end up in landfill in a year or two.
TOO Designs workspace & assembly (Photos by Thomas Gouws)What do you want Japanese consumers to see/feel in your designs? / any particular features?Our products are all about the beauty of simplicity. Less really is more for us. Colour is also a strong design element in our designs. We all have an emotional connection with specific colours and we feel we need to give customers the choice to select the colours that resonate with them.How would you describe your design aesthetic/approach?Playful minimalism. Our products all have a minimalist aesthetic but also a playful component. We strive to include our customers in the design process to truly customise the products to express their individuality and to have fun in the process.What is your Motto?Achievements are great, but make time for the things that matter in life. Success is about balance. Gratitude and mindfulness are key.What is an Australian design like? / any characteristics? / and do you see it in your design?We experience Australian designs as restrained and understated, yet elegant and functional. Uncontrived and authentic, but also relaxed and forgiving. Having a strong nature connection that reflects the outdoors with a lot of natural timber, muted colours and white spaces.Is there any special sneak peek on any upcoming projects?We are busy expanding our new art print range with exciting new designs coming soon.Lastly, any comments that you would like to appeal to Japanese consumers?The purity, balance and harmony of Japanese architecture and design have been a constant source of inspiration for us through the years. It is an honour for us to be able to share our products with the Japanese people who have such an extraordinary legacy of minimalistic design.
Their aim is to create a first new furniture market platform where people who seek individuality and value can connect with LOGAN's exclusive designers across places, generations, and races through works that are neatly produced.
Visit Logan Atelier to read this interview in Japanese.