Dale Hardiman and James Lemon <em>Deep fake chair</em> 2021; pine, chipboard, paint, polyurethane. Gift of Andrew Clarke and Sarah Tiffin, 2021.Courtesy of the designers<br/>
© Dale Hardiman and James Lemon. Photo: Nicholas Umek

Dale Hardiman and James Lemon

Dale Hardiman
(b. 1990, Bendigo, Victoria. Lives and works in Melbourne)

James Lemon
(b. 1993, New Zealand. Lives and works in Melbourne)

The first time designer Dale Hardiman and ceramic artist James Lemon formally collaborated was for their 2021 exhibition, The Nature of an Island, held at James Makin Gallery as part of Melbourne Design Week. Responding to the festival’s theme ‘Design the world you want’, the duo imagined a chaotic near-future where individuality reigns, creating a series of objects without communicating with one another during the process.

Deep fake chair, designed for The Nature of an Island in 2021, was acquired by the NGV after its first showing and is emblematic of the duo’s eleven-piece furniture collection, which satirises notions of high design. While Hardiman created new forms from post-construction waste, Lemon drew parallels between cannibalism, cults and consumption, together creating a wry commentary on the objects’ origins as building materials. Constructed from pine and chipboard and painted in pink polyurethane, the words ‘DEEP’ and ‘FAKE’ are handwritten on the chair’s backrest and seat in distressed gold paint. Random red splatters drip like blood across its pastel surfaces. Hardiman and Lemon use the phenomenon of ‘deepfakes’ – which harness machine learning, imaging technology and artificial intelligence to embed a person’s likeness within an existing image or video – to question the design industry’s complicity with unsustainable practices in the twentieth century.

Dale Hardiman is co-founder of furniture and object brand Dowel Jones and collaborative project Friends & Associates. He is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading emerging product designers and was recently named one of the design world’s 100 ‘game changers’ by Italy’s Architectural Digest. Since graduating from RMIT University’s industrial design program in 2011, Hardiman has been recognised for his one-off experimental design objects and furniture, which investigate non-traditional manufacturing methods and practices through local production, shaped by connections to place, people and resources. His work is held in the collections of the NGV and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

After moving to Melbourne in 2012, James Lemon studied Fine Art at RMIT University, and began working with ceramics after a studio apprenticeship at Cone 11 Design Studio in 2015. Merging art and design practices, his stoneware ceramic vessels and sculptures feature highly gestural surface abstraction, warping traditional forms to emphasise materiality and challenge notions of functionality, in highly colourful, tactile and often humorous works. He has developed exclusive collections for NGV and Heide Museum of Modern Art’s design stores, and has exhibited multiple times for Melbourne Design Week, with his work featured in various publications including Architectural Digest, Vogue Living and The Journal of Australian Ceramics. Following the success of his NGV collection, Lemon opened a retail space and studio in Northcote.