From freelance journalist/photographer to making baby furniture… We sat down with South Australia’s hottest new furniture designer on the back of his Etsy Design Award win to dig a little deeper into his interesting story.
James Howe. His may be a name that you have not heard of before, but let us change that for you! He is the Adelaide born, raised and based whiz behind the stunning pieces coming from the newest baby furniture design company, Vos Kho Baby.
What blows our minds having heard James’ story, is that he had never made furniture before. He went into the whole process totally green. So how the heck did he even get started in the first place? Well, it all began when his wife had their daughter Paige. They just couldn’t imagine moving in any of the commercially available furniture into the newly renovated bedroom. Looking for something without that cheap, mass produced aesthetic, they scoured the internet and countless furniture shops until Jo, his wife, just begged him to make something better suited to their style. So he did…
The closest thing to furniture that James had made before jumping into the deep end of baby furniture making, was a billy-cart.
“It was quite poorly made, and ended up exploding halfway down a steep cow paddock in the Paracombe,” said James.
Well that sounds comforting. But not to worry, with some help from some talented family and friends, James produced his first change table, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Focussing on creating pieces that are visually pleasing is very important to James, however, he also mentioned that it is very important to him that his pieces are usable and ergonomic. In saying that, sometimes beautiful furniture requires a considered approach.
“You wouldn’t want to change a nappy without placing a washable cover on the Danish Cord top, for instance. But the common alternative — plastic-covered foam — whilst eminently practical, would for me be undesirable.”
Luckily James has a knack for working amazingly beautiful designs into something totally practical. Obviously that is why he won the Etsy Design Award in the New Talent category.
In talking about the pieces he creates, he said that he always tries to add to what is already out there. What is the point of making a chair if it doesn’t truly stand out from the already existing pack?
“Rather than rehashing what’s already out there, I prefer to move into an niche that isn’t already occupied by someone with a similar aesthetic to me. Baby furniture was perfect in this respect.”
James gravitates towards using natural material, which he says is partly influenced by some of the designers he loves. Hans Wegner and Borge Mogensen, who worked primarily with wool, leather, Danish cord and wood, are at the top of his list. Interestingly he is also intrigued by artefacts from a time when people had no choice but to work with natural materials.
“The incredibly beautiful Australian Aboriginal-made baskets displayed at the Adelaide Art Gallery were certainly a big inspiration for me in weaving the Vos Kho Changer.”
After coming across an advertisement for the Etsy Design Awards in a design magazine, James bit the bullet and opened an Etsy shop. He says that it has been a fantastic was to gauge interest in Vos Kho Baby.
“…it instantly taps you into a global community of like-minded people.”
With the support from Jon Goulder and the guys in the furniture studio at the Jam Factory, James has some big plans for his brand. Not only Vos Kho Baby but also Vos Kho, his furniture and homewares brand. His first priority at the moment, however, is fine tuning a new change table that he has in the works.
“It will be fully flat-packable and will hit a considerably lower price point. So watch this space!”
We can’t wait to see what James comes up with next! Such a talented mind creating such beautiful things. We will certainly claim him as Adelaide’s next big thing as we are sure his brand will only continue to kick goals around Australia and the world. Go James!