TDK Awards ’16 Winner, and fellow Brisbanite, Reuben Mergard, tells us about his love of making and crafting, what it’s like having both parents as designers, and the rapidly growing creative community.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? Having two parents as designers, I was immersed into the world of design early on. My siblings and I were raised to be very aware of the world around me and the quality of design we encountered. Drawing and making were a given. From a young age, I aspired to be an astronaut and an inventor. In a way, the essence of those aspirations is one of discovery, creation and adventure, factors which remain as key drives in my design career today.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I studied at Shillington in Brisbane. A good choice. Being run like a studio, the environment was highly inspiring, fast-paced and the tutors were great. My first job was at a print/design studio where I got a greater understanding of the finished art process and client relations. I have recently transitioned to the Brissy based branding studio DSR Branding. We specialise in creating and developing extraordinary, high quality brands for a range of clients.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. I am a multidisciplinary designer currently specialising in branding and identity development. I am passionate about design and the making process, especially when it comes to old crafts and dying arts. I believe that hands-on making process is sadly underrated and therefore I strive to bring aspects of making into the design landscape.
Are you involved in any mentoring/teaching/workshops and if and how it shapes your practice? I have learnt a lot from my Shillington design tutors Belen and Shanti, both during the course and long after its completion. My personal mentor, a man by the name of James McGregor, has taught me a tonne of life lessons, making and crafting skills in the workshop environment. The importance of this style of student/teacher learning is sorely underappreciated throughout the majority our western culture today. It is easy to purchase something beautiful, however it is rewarding to learn how to make something beautiful yourself.
Any passion projects you would like to share? As mentioned above, I enjoy getting hands-on in design, be it cutting my designs out of vinyl for my journal covers, or learning how to carve. I believe the young and old should be learning from those who have understanding to pass down. For instance: last year under the guidance of my skilled mentor (McGregor), I learnt how to create these Viking weave bracelets out of copper and stainless steel wire. I also designed my own business card holder and produced a prototype with the help of my father, Philip Mergard, who also works as a design technician at QUT.
What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in? Brisbane has a tight knit, but rapidly growing design community. We have the great team behind The Design Conference with so much great content. Jacinta has done a legendary job running Creative Mornings for almost a year now (Cheers JC). Chloe from TDK is a real asset to the scene here as well. I’m passionate about growing the community right here into one of the leading hubs for design.