BassamFellows furniture hits Australia

Designers BassamFellows create furniture pieces that merge warmth with refinement.

Since its introduction a decade ago, the ‘Tractor’ stool, by designers BassamFellows, has emerged as one of this century’s classics. Conceived by Australian architect Craig Bassam and creative director Scott Fellows, the stool was based on a Swiss tractor seat found on the side of the road. A deceptively simple piece, it blends a robust, ergonomically pleasing form with the sensuality of handcrafted timber, and became the catalyst for a successful lifestyle brand.

Fellows and Bassam describe their line, which debuted in Milan in 2003 and includes tables, leather daybeds and desks, as ‘craftsman modern’. “It is about the balance between the clarity and rationality of Modernism with the warmth of luxury and craft,” Fellows notes, describing their pieces as an antidote to novelty-driven and mass-produced design. The collection has expanded little by little, always “as a direct response to some need”. With architectural principles influenced by greats such as Marcel Breuer and Louis Kahn, Bassam thinks about what’s missing in his design projects and starts from there – a disciplined approach that has produced highly coveted pieces, such as the ‘Mantis’ chair, an exquisite armchair that combines the sculptural and the sturdy. “It was the kind of chair we had always envisioned but couldn’t find anywhere,” says Bassam of the piece, which was chosen by Rem Koolhaas for Le Dauphin, the Parisian restaurant he designed.

BassamFellows is a distillation of the couple’s tastes, background and ideas. “Craig is the designer and I am the marketer, brand-builder and communicator,” says New York-native Fellows, whose creative strategy and business acumen revived moribund leather house Bally into a global behemoth. Bassam gravitated towards design from a young age. As a child in Sydney, he was seduced by the work of, among others, family friend Harry Seidler. “I was fascinated by design and I was lucky enough to be exposed to world-class design pretty early,” he explains. Later, he trained under architect Bruce Eeles before relocating to Austria, where he worked with some of the greats of 20th-century Modernism.

BassamFellows’ earliest pieces were for a few key Bally boutiques in Europe but they soon took on a life of their own, particularly after the ‘Tractor’ stool caused a sensation at Milan’s 2003 Salone furniture fair. It was the right time to launch their own venture: Bassam was eager to apply his architectural training in new ways and Fellows, a Harvard MBA graduate, had grown increasingly restless with the direction the luxury goods industry was taking. “It became more about marketing and less about quality and craft,” he says. “We founded BassamFellows on core luxury values. We wanted to make the absolute best-quality products we could, using the best-quality materials.”

Each of the company’s exquisitely wrought pieces possesses a soulful modernity absent in much of today’s furniture. The key to understanding their approach is the couple’s Connecticut home, the 1951 Philip Johnson-designed Hodgson House, in New England’s New Canaan (published in Vogue Living in January/February 2011). Not only is it a beautiful residence – a simple expression of Modernist ideas featuring two linked glassed-in pavilions – the home is a showcase for the range. “Furnishing a glass house demands a certain restraint and we oblige by focusing on essential furniture pieces. Each piece must have a function, must be beautiful, and must not compete with the nature beyond the glass,” says Fellows.

Modernism, as Bassam insists, doesn’t always deserve its reputation as emotionally disconnected. “I really feel that a connection to nature is what makes Modernism human,” he says. Their pieces, principally made from hand-finished wood, brass and leather, are designed to be compatible with all kinds of environments, happily positioned alongside an heirloom Chesterfield sofa or paired with glamorous 20th-century pieces. “Our homes should make us feel secure and comfortable,” says Bassam. “Isn’t that what matters most today?”

The BassamFellows collection is now available in Australia at Living Edge. This article was first published in Vogue Living Jan/Feb 2012.

Text: Aaron Peasley
Photographers: Jonny Valiant and Dan Martensen

4 Responses to “BassamFellows furniture hits Australia”
  1. K9 says:

    This is just more average Scandinavian-style foolery. Nothing new or remotely interesting here….

  2. ALAN PAYNE says:

    All very nice furniture pieces , investment in quality furniture returns more that stocks and shares.

  3. Really it,s a good post,collections are very unique,
    Eurodecor Made Furniture

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows. Image by Jonny Valiant, © News Magazines. […]

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