Charlie White<em> Hard clock</em> 2022; polyurethane foam, concrete, gold leaf, brass, quartz clock mechanism. Courtesy of the designer<br/>
© Charlie White. Photo: Tom Ross

Charlie White

Charlie White
(b. 1989, Canberra. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Multidisciplinary designer Charlie White is engaged in architecture, industrial and functional object design. Working with found materials, White tests the limits of aesthetic and utilitarian values, creating works that are sombre, gothic, seductive and expressive.

Hard clock, 2022, expands upon techniques that White developed for his 2021 solo show, Opus Vincula: Mattresses Bound, presented at Backwoods Gallery for Melbourne Design Week, where he created experimental furniture from old mattresses discarded on curbs during the pandemic. Soaked in concrete, the polyurethane foam is unrecognisable, a soft and comforting material transmogrified into the raw, brutalist bricks that make up his highly sculptural timepiece. White finds new beauty and functionality in the detritus of our daily lives, which he adorns here with gold leaf and brass hands.

Hard clock is part of a larger body of work interrogating fading typologies and repurposing domestic waste. Once the height of design technology, the grandfather clock is today – when the time flashes at us digitally from smartwatches, phones, laptops and whitegoods – a hulking anachronism. Hard clock was also a response to the suspended animation of the COVID-19 pandemic when time became both compressed and distended. White, like so many of us, gained a new perspective on the mortal implications of time’s passing: ‘In lockdown, every second was the same, and you had to find something different inside that second’, he explains. ‘This clock is a portrait of my life as it is being lost, second by second.’

Before 2021’s Opus Vincula, White’s work was exhibited at Melbourne Design Week in Friends & Associates’ group shows in 2020 and 2018. White established his own design studio in 2018 and was a finalist for Emerging Designer in the 2021 Design Files Awards. He received a Masters of Architecture from the University of Melbourne in 2021, during which he undertook an exchange at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He also holds a Graduate Diploma of Arts (Philosophy) from the University of Melbourne (2016) and a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Photomedia) from the Australian National University (2012).