“I was born, raised and still exist on the side of a steep mountain surrounded by tall trees that drops into the Tasman Sea on the shoreline. On maps it is known as Austinmer, on the Coal Coast of New South Wales,” says Felix Allen, designer of maker of lighting, furniture and homewares for Somewhere South. From his base, south of Sydney, he shares a workspace in an old beer brewing factory with “furniture craftsmen, boat builders, coffin makers, garden growers and future thinkers”. As well as his lighting designs, and giant sculptural fishing hooks (for Shop U), Felix has created gems from coal washed up on the Illawarra coastline. He also received commissions from stylist Sibella Court for The Society Inc including “forest gems”, made from timber, coal, stone, pumice and clay, as well as wooden talismanic eyes.
Which five words best describe you? Experimenter, discoverer, inquisitor, inventor, collector.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? A few years ago I started pulling apart, fixing then selling old broken furniture in a hot tin shed under the shadow of the tallest smoke stack in the southern hemisphere.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Venture off the trail. Sticking to the path is boring and you will never see what amazing things are really out there. This definitely applies to making things and in life.
What’s been your best decision? Doing it on my own, you can learn everything yourself if you work hard enough.
Who inspires you? Astronauts, explorers, mountain climbers, inventors, tight rope walkers.
What are you passionate about? Local history, paintings of ships, collecting, old bottles, feathers, things covered in dust, rusty things, abandoned buildings and climbing trees.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Anybody who has been to the moon or climbed Mt Everest.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To build my own house from an old sailing ship. I'm still waiting for one to wash up on the beach near my house.
What are you reading? A book on kite making; it has some pretty outrageous designs I want to try and build for an upcoming project.
images courtesy of felix allen
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