The idea that functional design cannot also be aesthetically pleasing is a thing of the past. When Robert Foster was recognised for his artwork after displaying it at an exhibition in Cologne, he submitted the designs to a renowned Italian design company who made prototypes but did not put the designs into production.
Even after he was denied production in Europe, the support gave him the encouragement to establish his own manufacturing company in Australia, where production by designers and artists was few and far between.
F!NK is a combination of the name Foster and ‘ink’. Creating the business afforded Robert Foster the financial grounding to establish a workshop in Canberra, which allowed him to experiment with his designs, his own manufacturing processes, and various artistic projects.
In addition to creating and manufacturing his own designs, Foster created F!NK Design to open the door to a community of artists who were interested in a career of design and creation in Australia.
Australian designers tend to be drawn to Europe, but F!NK Design allowed Foster to create an environment for emerging artists and designers to collaborate and design new and adventurous projects. Creating his own manufacturing company also created a need for manufacturing processes and marketing strategies; ultimately it became a way to turn art into a career for these emerging artists.
F!NK’s artistic designs range from lighting fixtures to water jugs to teapots and more. Robert is always looking for additional materials to help make his products better, both functionally and aesthetically.
Robert Foster has been using anodised aluminum to create his designs since the early 1980s because it is durable and long lasting. Prior to anodising it, the aluminum is soft and allows him to create unique designs, pushing the boundaries of manufacturing. It also keeps in line with the modern ideals of green manufacturing – aluminum is a recyclable material.
In addition to aluminum, F!NK has started producing with stainless steel, acrylic, and titanium, which create contrast with the colourful anodised aluminum and allow for the addition of new products to his line.
F!NK is based on the idea that useful and visually exciting are not mutually exclusive. “F!NK is shamelessly unafraid of running with quirkiness and frivolity that captures the heart and imagination.”
The art that Foster creates through F!NK routinely combines strong colour with the urban style of refined form and lines. He builds and produces his designs as collectors items that are designed to last more than a lifetime, and to be repaired, recycled or resurfaced through generations rather than thrown away or replaced.
In 2014, Monument Magazine named F!NK’s water jugs as the best in product design in their Top 20 Most Influential Designs in Australia in the Past 20 Years feature.
The Ossalites, Robert Foster’s permanent light installation at ACTEWAGL in the Canberra CBD was awarded with the NEW IES Lighting Society Award to Excellence and the Australia and New Zealand Award of Excellence, and the lighting design award at the 2011 ACT Architecture Awards.
You can find functional and well designed pieces by F!NK Design at the National Gallery, Creations in Manuka and the Hive in Braddon. Lighting is additionally available at Design Craft in Hume. Check out more of F!NK’s wonderful designs at www.finkdesign.com