With a background in furniture making and architecture, Alex Earl and Gerard Pinto have fused their design expertise, resources – and machinery – to form design studio and workshop, Earl Pinto. From their Collingwood location (showroom in front, offices upstairs and workshop out back), the studio conceives, designs, prototypes and produces their own furniture and decorative lighting.
It’s a highly convenient set-up that allows the studio to operate as a refinery of modern Australian design.
“Being designer makers we have the ability to prototype products and ranges that are hand crafted and can be produced easily in multiples,” explains Georgina Lewis, design assistant to Earl and Pinto.
“Our workshop capabilities enable us to prototype new designs in our unique style for our client projects.” Solid timbers, plywood and metal form the basis of Earl Pinto’s growing range; and while each piece is machine-made using latest technologies, they also carry an element of personal care and polish. Here, the studio employs a number of full time craftspeople to hand finish each piece.
“The main designs are router cut and often employ another process to get the right profile or to integrate another material,” explains Lewis. “For example, resin in our Birchland dining table is introduced before the sanding and finishing process.”
Maximising In-house Capabilities
It’s a balance well learned and well earned. Earl Pinto is focused on maximising their production capabilities to service both their own needs and those of their clients. “Large projects are excellent but take up valuable workshop time,” says Lewis. “You always need to be creating new designs and reviewing what is selling. “We maximise our production capabilities by offering a standard range of furniture and lighting that is produced in production runs that we sell as is, and also take on commission and project work.”
Reflecting on their place within the Australian design and manufacture industry, Lewis comments: “There is so much talent in Australia, one thing missing is the large Australian retailers’ ability to support Australian design – largely due to price sensitivity in their markets.” Through regular project work Earl Pinto has found clients are looking to specify the kind of Australian-made hand-crafted products in their quintessential style.
Often a happy accident leads to the development of a best-selling piece. “The Leaf light (developed out of a much larger orb-like design) was just sitting on the ground, and one of our customers said they loved it. Now that simple Leaf light is one of our biggest sellers.”
Earl Pinto continues to produce all their products from their Melbourne headquarters – “even our metal lighting component fittings and frames” – with a view to outsourcing the production of certain components to other local manufacturing houses. “A strength of our business has been developing prototype components with local knowledge and that’s something we will continue to do,” says Lewis.
Earl Pinto earlpinto.com.au
Photography by Lynton Crabb