We sat down with Frag Woodall, the Australian industrial designer behind the Bondi Chair from PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED, to discuss how he ended up working with the Danish brand, the inspiration behind this design, his favourite projects it has been used in to date and much more. The Bondi Chair, along with the complete PWTBS range of furniture, lighting and accessories is now available exclusively in Singapore at Cult.
Meet Frag Woodall.
Frag Woodall is an industrial design graduate from The University of Technology Sydney.
His design studio Mr.Fräg takes on a logical and investigative approach focusing on interiors and products such as furniture lighting and homewares.
The central tenant within his design philosophy is to allow the products to have functional honesty, material integrity, albeit with a sense of poetry and wit which communicates and connects on a human level. This methodology is driven by a desire to enrich everyday objects with new layers of contemporary relevance, individuality, and meaning.
Read on to meet Frag and learn more about his Bondi Chair.
As an Australian designer based in Tasmania, what is the story behind your partnership with PWTBS? How did you meet and end up working together to produce the Bondi chair?
This project came about through an impromptu meeting at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in 2017. I had always really admired PWTBS; I thought they had a great mix of designers and products, plus a unique sense of fun and strong expression of colour.
When I met the creative director, Thomas, I remember discussing another chair I had been developing and he said ‘No, we don't want metal and it can’t be too heavy actually, we need something really light, a timber chair that we can do in our colours with good detail.’ Thomas was just chatting, he wasn't giving me a brief. After that meeting the thing that stuck with me wasn't their need for a chair, it was that they seemed fun and had a great attitude.
A few months later, I remembered our conversation and I thought to myself that that chat as simple as it was was a bit of a brief that I could work with. To be honest though I wasn't really thinking too much about the specifics of a chair that met certain criteria. I was more interested in just being part of a fun company that didn’t take itself too seriously. My motivation was to design something that was a true expression of them and the brand. So, I set about designing a dining chair that had an open, welcoming and fun expression, not comical but with a lot of attention to detail and comfort.
Talk us through the process of developing the Bondi Chair with PWTBS, from concept to final design?
Normally I would sketch and then model a concept but in this case because I had done so much thinking about it I went straight to making a finished 1 to 1 piece in my little workshop and then developed a collection from it of about six elements. I was very nervous sending Thomas all the renders and the working model. He didn’t know I was developing a chair so specifically for PWTBS, I guess he just thought it was another designer sending along their work. Thankfully, they liked it!
What is the inspiration behind the Bondi chair?
It was really important to me from the outset that it had a very open and welcoming personality that would sit well in restaurants, cafes and homes.
I live in the details so in this aspect of the design process, I wanted to express the joint detail creating a layering effect that would be enhanced by light and shadow. Expressing the connecting junction with a lap mortise and tenon joint also aids the visual legibility of the product, of how it is made and in turn reiterates its open and honest appearance.
One of the more difficult aspects of the design was hiding the ergonomics. I did this because often good comfort coincides with complex compound curving backrest and seat, which creates a lot of visual clutter - something I was trying to avoid.
Bondi went through a lot of iterations and tweaking that are barely noticeable but I think the net result is a comfortable and pleasing little chair.
Why is the design named the Bondi Chair?
One of the things I love to do is name my products because it allows you one final opportunity to articulate what the idea or feeling of the product is all about. With Bondi, I had absolutely nothing to do with naming the chair, it was Peter Mahler the CEO of PWTBS who came up with the name ‘Bondi’ and it couldn't be more fitting.
What kind of environments do you see the Bondi Chair being used in? Do you have any favourite projects that feature the design?
PLWTBS is all about their beautiful painted timber colour palette, which I think is celebrated so well with Bondi. I had always hoped it would be picked up by some interestimg restaurants and eateries that are telling a similar story with their cuisine, and we have been fortunate that restaurants such as Restaurant Remi in Berlin, Tigermom, Many a Moon and Frankie's Pizza in Copenhagen and Korean restaurant, Sang Sang in Vienna have chosen the Bondi chair in their beautiful interiors.
In Australia we have some of the best cuisine and fresh produce including Italian, Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants. I’m hopeful to see Bondi in some of these interiors, the chair really comes alive even little dumpling bars and fish-n-chip shops. It definitely sits well residentally but where I really love seeing Bondi is out and about.
MANY A MOON, COPENHAGEN // Interior design by The Sweet Spot, photography by Bjarni B Jacobsen Fotografi.
FRANKIES PIZZA, COPENHAGEN // Interior design and photography by Madklubben.
In your own words, what are your favourite features of the Bondi chair?
I think it is how the chair conveys itself as a whole, its character and personality. There are two features that really stand out; the detail of the half-lap-mortise-and-tenon joint on the back legs. This was a focal point for me because the chair is often tucked into a table and mostly viewed from the back. I think this silhouette is both captivating and honest. Envisioning it for long conversations and late night dinners, it was important for me to sneak in unnoticed, uncompromising and striking comfort. Bondi is a great chair to specify, particularly because of the fantastic colours it’s offered in. Overall though, my favourite thing is that I feel that Bondi quintessentially captures the playful spirit of PWTBS.
Where is the Bondi Chair made and what materials are used in its production?
The Bondi chair is made out of natural matt lacquered ash timber, but it also comes with painted finishes in Ash Grey, Fig Purple, Jaipur, Turmeric Yellow, Black, Navy Blue and Basque Red.
The chair is produced out of Latvia by skilled craftsmen and distributed throughout Scandinavia by PWTBS and around the world by brand partners.
I am now very excited because our little Bondi Chair has come all the way back home and will be distributed here in Australia by Cult.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I spend most of my free time with my beautiful wife Naomi and 7 year old son Beau, we like to swim, ride bikes and do bush walks. I like to listen to podcasts and smoke fish when we have guests.
Favourite all-time designer and why?
It’s difficult to narrow it down to just one, but it’s hard to go past someone like Jasper Morrison, I’ve always admired him, he’s got such a deft touch with proportion, balance and understanding materiality. Jasper seems to have a very gentle spirit which comes through in his work, I think I resonate with that.
Discover PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED.
PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED (PWTBS) is a young Danish design company founded in 2014 by former interiors photographer, Thomas Ibsen.
The design collection focuses on interaction, good craftsmanship, quality, materials and sustainability in terms of durable design. Each piece is a little more daring than traditional Danish design, features a graphical element and balances functionality and creativity. The small but exciting range contains pieces by some of the most interesting design practitioners working today, many who Thomas developed realtionships with in his former photography career.
The complete PWTBS range of furniture, lighting and accessories is now available exclusively in Australia and Singapore at Cult.