Sydney-based industrial designer Robert Rulli takes pleasure and inspiration in the detail of modern life.
A series of shared stories on the trials of moving house inspired Robert Rulli to create his Embrace flatware and BRTCHA cutlery sets. “Friends and I would talk about how some of our existing appliances wouldn’t fit through the front door, or how plates wouldn’t fit into a new dishwasher,” says the Sydney-based industrial designer. “This opened up an ongoing topic of discussion on how modern metropolitan lifestyles seem to be shrinking, but no one wants to compromise on their lifestyles.
“I started developing my design for a dining set that retained the illusion of a normal dinner set, but actually had a smaller footprint for storage.”
Rulli’s Embrace flatware does just that.The plates stack snugly on top of one another thanks to a gentle indent in the design, and a flat edge on the table side of the plates allows them to pack away neatly onto a shelf. Practical, yes, but the design is also engaging, entertaining and intimate – all the hallmarks of a great dinner party.
The idea behind Rulli’s BRTCHA cutlery was equally pragmatic. “I noticed there is often confusion on how to set a table – on which side does the fork go? Where does the entree knife sit?” he says. “So I introduced the idea of a cutlery set that could communicate its proper position relative to other items with the simple use of overlapping features.”
A contemporary and innovative approach to everyday design, the BRTCHA Flatware and Embrace Dinnerware earned Rulli a finalist spot in the Craft & Object Design category of this year’s Qantas Spirit Of Youth Awards and a coveted spot in Workshopped’s 2011 exhibition. Currently in the process of launching his own brand, the accolades are well timed and well deserved.
“It’s very hard to do something innovative and exciting with homewares, so it’s nice to hear how positive the feedback has been,” he says.
Design has been a passion of Rulli’s from a young age. An early fascination with Matchbox cars and Lego (and the precise drawings in the assembly booklets) led to the discovery of 3D CAD renderings in high school. “In my final year my Design & Technology teacher gave me a design magazine that featured the Dyson DC01 vacuum,” he recalls. “This was the point that crystallised in my mind to pursue industrial design.”
Rulliwent on to study Industrial Design at the University of Technology Sydney, graduating with first class honours in 2005.
Cars are still an influence, as is modern Italian design. Luxury car design firm Pininfarina,“are probably the most revered in my mind,” says Rulli. “They are responsible for some of my favourite dream cars growing up, yet have evolved and undertaken a variety of design projects across many creative disciplines.”
A strong belief in balance and proportion – specifically the golden ratio – also colour Rulli’s work. He takes great delight in the details, believing this is what sets design apart and encourages people to engage and interact with everyday items like his Embrace and BRTCHA series.
“It’s the extra details on products that enhance the user’s experience,” he explains. “It offers us an insight to the principles of the company behind the product, and what they value above their competitors. Design is what sets the difference in a competitive market and has an important role to play in challenging the status quo.”
Rulli himself is constantly challenging and pushing the boundaries. “I never accept my first idea,” he says. “I know from experience that there is always a better way to do things. It’s important to question yourself and seek out as much detail as possible.”