Recently I had the privilege to have a chat with Bianca Riggio of Page Thirty Three to discuss their new collection, the woes of offshore manufacturing (and how to avoid it) and that tricky line between art and design.
S: Who is Page Thirty Three?
BR: Page Thirty Three is an object design label run by myself Bianca Riggio & my pertness Ryan Hanrahan.
S: Tell us a little bit about your background. What path has led you to what you do now?
BR: We have both always been creatives, & have always wanted to do an independent, creative venture, so it evolved pretty naturally when we met. We both also studied fine arts.
S: What does a typical day at work involve for you?
BR: It depends a lot on the time of year. In the Christmas season, there is a lot to do in the warehouse.
Ryan starts his day by making 5 Essentail Oil Burners every morning. We try to time block; like one day for production, one day for marketing + PR, one day for research etc... so many hats!
Standard 3:00pm coffee breaks all year around.
S: Is Page Thirty Three art, design or an amalgamation of both? Discuss.
BR: Page Thirty Three is definitely an amalgamation of both art & design. Some our pieces started out as artworks, such as the Cinematic light box & life sucks drinking straws. We are constantly intrigued by the cross pollination of art into other genres. I think its a great thing to be an artist that designs, as there isn't much to be tied down to. We don't know the rules of design, so we just design by intrigue. I like to think that most of what we do is conceptual.
S: You recently launched your new collection ‘Entertaining the Myth’. With pieces like the scientific-style oil burner and the reclaimed book sculptures, there is quite an old school feel. Can you tell us a little bit about the ideas and direction behind these pieces?
BR: Well over a certain time we collect pictures, fabrics, machines, books. We also visit places like test tube factories and thats were the creation begins. All of these collectables along with our personal interests get mashed up together and come out as the ideas we have for new products. Ryan and i love burning oils at home so as soon as we visited the test tube factory all we saw (in our minds) were oil burners. It was so obvious.
The fact they they are old looking stems more from that we are trying to design towards repurposed materials. They have so much charm and it feels ethically responsible as a designer.
S: The majority of your products are manufactured in Australia. As a country increasingly turning to offshore manufacturing, what are the challenges/triumphs you’ve faced in keeping your production in Australia?
BR: Have you got all day? It is in some cases impossible to manufacture in Australia, because we don't have the actually tooling required. And in other situations the few people who have the machinery are not willing to try and create products.
But overall I guess the biggest challenge is trying to consider multiple things at once, the main question we have to ask ourselves is, would I pay X amount for this? In such a price conscience retail environment you have to make the call sometimes whether the product you have in mind is actually viable at a certain price point. Like you finally find someone in Australia what will make your wacky creation, but you cannot go ahead because it would mean such an inflated retail cost. This is why we are moving to creating pieces in house.
But it's all worth while, we are working towards 100% Australian made. It just feels more aligned with the state of the world, to try and do small runs of products locally that mass producing. It also allows you to be more responsive to the market condition.
S: What is currently written on your cinematic lightbox?
BR: "Soul food served here" sitting in our kitchen.
Thanks Bianca! It's so good to see a small Australian business creating original and creative products. You can find much of Page Thirty Three's iconic range at Stockroom - lots of perfect Christmas gifts!