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Daniel - Emma

Daniel To and Emma Aiston are industrial designers hailing from the rolling hills of Adelaide. They are engaged in both commercial projects and self-directed design. We were lucky enough to have them travel across to Melbourne to put together for us a very special window installation. This display showcases some of their furniture pieces from the D-E studio, which are destined to become permanent fixtures here at Monk House Design (!!)

As there is no dedicated space in Melbourne to see the pieces IRL before ordering online, visiting either of our Monk House stores is a way to give them a little road test, before committing to having one of these ‘just nice' pieces in your life. 

The two striking pieces featured are; a petite ‘Love seat’ aptly titled Soft Love, and also the cute Soft Chair which was originally designed for the fashion label COS, and not really meant to be put into production. It was only when the duo realised just how popular and sought after the original chairs were, lead to them thinking about re-producing the design using the more classic Daniel- Emma popping colour palette. The smart way in which the pieces are designed, allow for simple manufacturing processes, and consequently all pieces are made locally in Adelaide from steel with upholstered fabric seating from amazing textile manufacturer, Kvadrat based in Denmark.



From left to right: Shy Guy $440, Small Guy $220, Long Guy $440, Wide Guy $440


Daniel and Emma have exhibited extensively worldwide, winning multiple awards, but most importantly collecting the Bombay Sapphire discovery award, in 2011 which was early in their collaborative career, having established D-E in 2008. This positioned the pair as strong and serious designers with dynamic thinking and exceptional use of colour. Prior to setting up a studio together the pair got their creative chops working with the likes of Marc Newson, Thorsten Van Elten and Committee in London.

Travel seems to be important to the design duo, in terms of their inspiration and design processes – continuing to travel is a key element of how they define colours and shapes in their work. They say they’re constantly on the hunt for “unique compositions”. Inspired by city-scapes, and everyday scenes which provide opportunities to glimpse alternative colour palates, and how different materials work together to create unexpected results. Through utility some of these joyful results occur, such as the stacking of buckets or baskets at market stalls or local street fashions. Part of the reason the couple travel so much is due to family though which is such a nice consequence of making time to see loved ones! Emma’s Uncle lives in Japan, and Daniels parents emigrated from Hong Kong. Although they also site Taiwan and Korea as fertile grounds for inspiration and research.




Also part of the window display features the duo’s first foray into the world of moblies. They had an interest for some time in designing and experimenting with the multi-component nature of mobile making, and the window at Monk House seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Emma says of the process; “for a long time we assumed it was going to be a lot more complicated to do, however it ended up being more intuitive…a thinking through making process. It was nice to actually hand make these pieces” What attracted them to mobile making, was the combining form and colours together; suspending all the different forms in concert with one another to create compositions. The duo said it was more open ended due to the fact there didn’t need to be any practical concerns taken into account, making it a more playful and experimental process. The sense of positive energy, play and balance the pair maintain across all their work is indeed very present in the series of 4 mobiles they have created. They are strictly one-off’s though, but we don't doubt there will be more experimentation to come!

To put the full stop at the end of the sentence, in this case, process of creation, the pair always enjoy producing a thematic photoshoot, capturing the object made in its optimum, or ultimate environment. Some images are featured below of the mobiles, as captured by Daniel and Emma. They play with light, texture and of course colour, all of which utilise their studio roller door which had been painted a brilliant powder blue some time ago. The pair says they were looking for an excuse to use it for a while…well, all the ingredients came together, whether it be fate or by design, to exhibit all the hallmarks of their iconic and unmistakable style.




If you are Melbourne based you can see their design in action, in our store of course, but also at Juanita Peaches, which was featured last week in this very same news section – the Brunswick restaurant has a few of their custom designed tables, and the sweet bubble-gum pink napkin holders…that’s them too!

To celebrate their window installation, we managed to track down some special edition AARK x D- E watches – which of course are colourful, in the most perfect and subtle of ways. Pop in to browse the installation, and the watches which are of course across both stores. 

If you would like a D-E piece in your life you can order one here. The mobiles are also available for purchase.


In store photographs by Madeleine Burke and product photographs by Daniel - Emma 
Words by Gussie Vinall Richardson and layout by Shelby De Fazio