People and Places

Behind the pared-back style of design duo George & Willy

Article by Homes to Love

From a weekend hobby to full-grown business, Mount Maunganui-based George & Willy create stylish and functional objects to stand the test of time

Design duo George & Willy create innovative items in a tin-shed workshop

Having met at the age of 12, and then again once they were at university studying business, George and Willy found themselves using the campus workshop to tinker and create — and they haven’t stopped since. Bonding over a mutual love of experimentation and creating objects that are functional, the Mount Maunganui-based duo are inspired by simple materials and a desire to create tools for life.

We got the chance to have a quick chat with George and Willy to find out what they’ve been working on…

How did George & Willy begin?

We never set out to start a business. We would just talk about what we thought would be fun to make and then go and make it. We made swings, giant matchsticks, toy helicopters. We were so busy making things together that we never ended up getting jobs when we graduated from uni with commerce degrees. Instead, we set up camp in our parents’ workshops, doing a small stint in each shed. Five years later, we are still making fun things for people all around the world.

What is the George & Willy Design Ethos?

Simple, functional and made to last would be our top three for sure.

What role do you each play in the design and creation process?

It’s very much a team effort! George has always been better at making things and I draw what needs to be made. We are constantly in conversation about the next product. It’s our favourite part of the business
What does an average day in the workshop look like?

We get into work at 7.30am and have a cup of tea. In winter, we get the heaters blasting and in summer we have a sprinkler on the roof of our little tin shed to keep it from getting too hot. We check to see what orders have come in overnight, make what needs to be made and get them out the door. The week is riddled with photo shoots, prototypes and meetings. George and I are not the most organised people, so we make sure we surround ourselves with people who are. Phoebe, our marketing manager, keeps us in line.

Most challenging project so far?

Our most recent project was a letter display board, made up of 10 rails on the wall – you slide scrabble-style timber letter tiles into the slots and write messages. We really wanted one for the workshop to track our monthly goals and thought they would also be cool for cafe menus and other spaces. Each one comes with 400 letters. Anything with over 400 parts is naturally a bit challenging, but we are super-excited about this one.

What’s on the horizon for George & Willy?

Recently, we’ve loved making things for office spaces, objects to make people feel more at home in their workspace and more productive. We would also love to make little flat-pack cabins or doghouses. We have a new form on our website where people can submit their product ideas and if we make it into a product, we will send you one!

Photography bySwift & Click and George & Willy.

This article orginally appeared on Homes to love Australia. 

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