Writing an article on Jon Goulder has been difficult. Not because he doesn’t have a long list of accolades to reel off as a renowned furniture designer, but because he was at pains to make sure that his whole team at the JamFactory in the Furniture Studio, where he is the Creative Director were properly acknowledged. Enter the team photo! The Furniture Studio is very much like a family, where associates can work on their own projects under Goulder’s tutelage as well as working on his projects, external commissions and the very desirable and affordable JamFactory product line. All of these projects involve working through stages of research, design, production, right through to price point and retail – so his guidance and experience is paramount. Goulder is part of a rare breed, not just because his work has already become iconic in his lifetime but because he’s also a fourth generation craftsperson who won’t be wrangled into today’s furniture designer box.
Although the natural progression for his practice points toward the European market, Goulder has made a key decision to stay in Australia. Raising children with his wife Jo in Adelaide, they relish the coastal lifestyle in a city with a packed cultural calendar and an excellent array of small bars (tested by the author for quality). Growing up in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales has given Goulder a down to earth attitude and his natural generosity, through mentorship and personal referrals- often over beers in his broad Australian accent, are all part of the package of someone who is an incredibly intelligent straight talker who can join the dots and see past the hype.
Despite the larrikin within, Goulder also knows when it’s time to take off his flanny and scrub up for the discerning eye of the design industry – because he knows first hand the influential power of sponsorship, recommendation and partnerships. I won’t say he hasn’t ruffled a few feathers. His single mindedness and drive has won him both adoration and a few sideways glances. From his springboard as the winner of the 2003 Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award to his appointment as Head of the Pattern Workshop at FORM’s Midland Atelier in 2006 in Western Australia to his current role at JamFactory, he is one of the few furniture designers who has consolidated his career by partnering with organisations, concurrently managing to stay in a mentoring role whilst creating significant collections of work that are both refined and seductive.
While his work is held in state and national institutions, handled and displayed with incredible care and reverence, he himself is clear that his products are made for use, displaying craftsmanship that can take generations of knocks. I’m testing this theory on two of his Stak Stools, which have taken a hammering from the kids over the years, currently still looking divine and also on my newest acquisition – the JamFactory GRIND pepper mill. I’ll let you know how these products go over time, hopefully there are no adverse side affects from increasing my pepper intake by about 2000% since owning this product.
A big thank you to everyone at the JamFactory Furniture Studio for welcoming me into your woody fold (is that wrong? Yes, but really – thanks) and to JamFactory’s generous and remarkable CEO, Brian Parkes for giving me his time and a wonderful base to explore South Australia from.