A Behind the Scenes Look at Marz Designs & The New Terra Collection
Say hello to the owner and designer behind Marz Designs, Coco Reynolds. We’ve worked with Coco for a long time now and couldn't be more excited to introduce you to her incredible new range of hand-made lighting that we adore. Her pieces are incredibly unique, and the latest Terra collection has us absolutely swooning. Read on below to find out more about the business and the new collection of lighting...
What initially inspired you to become and what led you to start your own design business?
I’ve had a passion for the arts as long as I can remember, and creativity was encouraged at home and school. I went on to study Industrial Design at University and my career simply progressed from there. The business started more as a passion project, which turned into a side hustle and thankfully these days I can now call it a full-time job.
Tell us about Marz Designs – where you’re based, what do you do on a day to day basis for the business, and what it’s like to be a business owner?
I’m based in Mullumbimby now, but I grew up in the Hunter Valley and have lived in Sydney for a good part of my life. I made the move to Mullumbimby at the beginning of 2019 so that I could focus solely on the business and give it my full attention because for a long time I’d been stretching myself thin and trying to juggle too many aspects of my career. I started Marz Designs almost nine years ago and during that nine-year period I also worked full time, then part-time while studying on the side. I simply didn’t have the courage to jump headfirst into the business and took the advice of my peers to “play it safe,” so it’s definitely been a slow burner! It’s taken a lot longer to get where I am than I ever anticipated. However, right now I’m really excited about where I am and what’s next for Marz.
Over the last six months, I’ve been busy developing the new ranges and so my days have been quite varied including concept sketching, CAD modelling and technical drawings, as well as the day to day running of the business which always continues in the background. As a business owner, one must wear many different hats, but that’s what keeps it interesting.
What is your go-to resources when seeking inspiration for new designs?
Instagram is an obvious and easy go-to for inspiration; however, I feel I spend too much time on it, and I fear it may influence my design process, so I’ll have periods where I remove myself from the temptation and have an Instagram free spell. Interestingly, it’s in these moments I find a lot of inspiration. As I begin to train my mind to slow down, I start to notice interesting details in simple day-to-day objects, and I find the thing I’m most drawn to is materiality. Most of my designs come about because I’ve wanted to experiment with a new material.
What is the design and manufacturing process for your studio? Where are the products made and assembled?
Our products are assembled and packaged in the studio and we work with a number of local and international creatives who specialise in timber, metal, ceramics and glass blowing to produce these unique pieces. Our range consists mostly of lighting, but we also venture into furniture and object design, and work with architects and interior designers to develop one-off or custom pieces. Our designs are usually underpinned by traditional manufacturing techniques and the inherent qualities of the natural materials featured in each product, such as grain, texture or finish.
You’ve recently launched a new collection called Terra – can you tell us about what inspired you to create it.
I’d been working at an architectural practice for a few years in the Interiors team and noticed while sourcing product for various projects that there were a lot of beautiful statement lighting designs on the market, but not a lot of simple everyday pieces. What was on the market was very “stock-standard” and commercial so I felt there was a gap for lighting with a softer, more homely aesthetic. The terra range draws on this concept; handmade clay ceramic shades and combinations of hand-turned timber elements are assembled to create a versatile selection of pendants, ceiling and wall fixtures.
Can you explain the design and manufacturing process of the new terra collection?
I’ve always been drawn to the tactility and irregularity of handmade objects, but this can sometimes be hard to achieve and manage when working in production at scale, so I was really intrigued by the process of slip-casting which allows ceramicists to produce multiples of an object at a time. There is a real science to the process and the ceramicist utilises a huge variety of techniques to get the end result which is always slightly imperfect.
Were there any challenges that you had to overcome with the new collection?
We worked with Leia from GritCeramics - a small ceramic studio owned and operated by solopreneur, Leia, in the Northern Rivers region to develop the shades. There was quite a bit of trial and error over an extended period of time. The collection took over a year to finesse because we needed to develop certain techniques to control tolerances throughout the process which became evident once fired.
The Design Hunter is now focusing on bringing a conscious, curated online edit of brands and products we believe in that are local and handmade, such as Marz Designs. It seems as though there has been a shift towards consuming local and Australian design by our society in general - How has this played a role in your business today and has this impacted the design of your new range at all?
I always try to support local manufacturers and suppliers where possible and it makes sense from a number of aspects. The challenge with local manufacturing tends to be the cost of production and material prices increase each year, as well as the difficulties in identifying and accessing good quality, efficient and reliable manufacturers. The shift in consumer attitude towards purchasing Australian-made is great, but sometimes there can be a disconnect between this idea and Australian-made pricing. Bigger brands and brands that offer replica pieces de-value locally made design and this can be really hard for consumers to understand and justify the cost of locally made products.
We worked really hard to keep the cost down on the Terra range, but at the end of the day, there still needs to be a margin for the business to survive and continue to support local industries. I think once people start to understand how their products were made and the story behind the people who made them, they can develop an appreciation for the object and understand its real value.
What is your favourite product from the new Terra collection and why?
The Terra 1.5 ceiling mount in Vanilla bean is my favourite. It's probably one of the simplest but I love the contrast between the two stacked parts, the glossy glazed asymmetric form and the gritty unglazed cylinder.
You can explore more of the new Terra collection by Marz Designs over on The Design Hunter.