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Beyond the standard design

Iconic American novelist Jack London once remarked, "I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." The wise sentiments favoured tenacity over complacency, and still maintain a sense of relevance today. Therefore, when passion, a humble desire and an intensity to succeed are shown, the eventual results are all the more admirable.

Holmesglen furniture student Carolina Trombelli is reflective of our 'learn more, do more' ethos. Adopting a keen approach to her study and practical pursuits, Trombelli has enjoyed a positive experience since deciding to study at the Chadstone campus.

Born in Brazil, Carolina initially came to Australia to learn English. While living on the Gold Coast, though, the South American first became aware of Holmesglen, and then, upon further inquiry, enamoured with the prospect of studying with the institute.

"The first time I found the Holmesglen website I was like, 'I want to study there.' I went to the Immigration agent and she was trying to convince me to go to Sydney, and I said, 'No, I want to go Holmesglen'. Then I moved from the Gold Coast [to Melbourne], and it was the best decision of my life. I'm pretty happy with the course," Trombelli says.

Currently studying a diploma within the Furniture and Upholstery department, Trombelli is complimentary and equally enthused by the dedicated workshop and industry machinery made available to her. "The workshop is amazing. I think it's one of the best workshops in Australia."

There is an enduring video game dictum that declares, 'the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master'. In regards to her furniture design and making, Trombelli is encouraged by the prospect of combining study and previous skillsets with the appropriate and associated challenges.

"Most of the time, I like to have a challenge. With all my projects, I try to make a connection with the person who is going to use that piece of furniture."

This endeavour was recently reflected in a collection of chairs she helped design and create. The furniture, which is currently on display within the campus, has also received interest from industry notables such as IKEA.

"All the time I'm trying to make something that can surprise someone who is using the furniture. I have a niece – she is five – and she was my inspiration [for the chairs]. I was just observing her. I realised kids between three and six express themselves by drawing. So, before I start to build the furniture, I do the research of who will be using the product."

An acute understanding of the process, but also a creative mind has contributed to Trombelli's early success. Moreover, she is developing a novel and potentially crucial design, which incorporates coffee as a primary material.

"I work as a barista. One day when I was in the coffee shop, I started to ask a lot of questions of myself, and I looked to the side. I was looking at the materials and thought I could make something of this. I went home and started to understand a little bit more about the material. Now, I'm planning to do an MDF, but instead of using wood dust, I'm using coffee."

In lieu of the common materials, Carolina aims to use ground coffee, then press it at a high temperature to create a medium density coffee board. Equally, the product is both recycled and waterproof.

"My idea is to build furniture with coffee, so when you go to a coffee shop you can see everything around from the chairs, tables and benches made with coffee," Trombelli adds.

Importantly, the Holmesglen course allows for these ambitious designs to see materialisation, with the emphasis on connecting the plan with the subsequent creation.

"Carolina has a strong design background from back home. She is quite strong [in that department]. With the link between the design world and the practical world, there is also a bit of tension between what the designer wants and what actually can be achieved. [Subsequently] the whole course and nature of this [study] is trying to unify those two areas," Furniture Teacher Chris Beck observes.

Similarly, Trombelli has also partnered with fellow Holmesglen student Freddy Mata Mendoza to form furniture business TWO AM. "We were studying together, and I had the design background and Freddy is a really good maker. We decided to combine the two skills and see if we could take it further. Most of the time I was creating the project and Freddy was trying to build my crazy ideas."

Like all worthwhile current endeavours, an eye toward the future is also valuable and Carolina is already thinking long-term, in addition to her present efforts.

"My goal is to have some of my projects [included] in international awards, or furniture in Italy."

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All information is correct at the time of printing but subject to change.

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