John Wardle and Simon Lloyd <em>System vases</em> 2022; mid-fire casting slip. Proposed acquisition, 2023<br/>
© John Wardle and Simon Lloyd. Photo: Trevor Mein

John Wardle and Simon Lloyd

John Wardle
(b. 1956, Geelong, Victoria. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Simon Lloyd
(b. 1955, Cleethorpes, United kingdom. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Architect John Wardle and designer Simon Lloyd have worked together on several occasions throughout the course of their careers. System Vases, 2022, was initiated when Wardle approached Lloyd in 2018 with a series of concept sketches to see if they could be realised in ceramic form. Wardle had intended for Lloyd to assist with technical resolution, but the collaboration soon grew far beyond his original ambitions. After years of conversation, drawing, modelling and an iterative prototyping process, the pair produced System Vases.

As suggested by the name, System Vases is a system of ceramic vessels designed to challenge the formal conventions of the vase. Comprising several constituent parts, the vases are designed for the ritual of tending to flowers over their short lives. In the same way a house contains separate zones for living, these vases have a series of house-like elements that are functional and interlock to become a whole object. ‘Each, in various ways, stores, discharges and refreshes water whilst holding and shaping the arrangement of flowers and providing variant opportunity for display’, explains Wardle. ‘Like a house, each can be appreciated in the round with quite distinctively different elevations.’ The name System Vases also refers to Victorian-era system gardens, which laid out horticultural displays in accordance with the evolutionary system of classification for scientific and educational purposes.

John Wardle is the founder of John Wardle Architects, which has studios in Sydney and Melbourne. The practice’s portfolio spans domestic dwellings, university buildings, museums and large-scale commercial projects. An adjunct professor of architecture at the University of South Australia and the University of Melbourne, Wardle designs in a way that nurtures human connection, knowledge exchange and community. Outside architecture, his design work spans jewellery, furniture and ceramics.

Originally born in the United Kingdom, Simon Lloyd arrived in Australia in 1984 after completing a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in three-dimensional design. He worked as a furniture designer and production manager with Peter Sands before founding his own business, Sisu, in 1995. His ceramic homewares have been stocked at Conran in London and Paris, and Paustian in Copenhagen. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Interior Architecture at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. His work is represented in museums in Japan, Italy and Australia.