Who would have thought the man behind bisonhome’s minimalist designs would be such a vivacious and funny character?!
Sitting down to coffee with Brian Tunks, founder and principal designer of bisonhome, we laughed out loud as he shared his story and creative ideas for the future.
Related article: The colourful and creative handmade ceramics from Chimerical Homewares
Related article: 5 fabulous ceramic artists on Etsy
“I love design, especially Asian design — Chinese, Japanese and Korean. I just take all the decoration off to reveal the lovely forms underneath,” he says.
Brian studied Ancient History and Classics at the Australian National University and regularly went on archaeological digs to Syria. We wanted to know when and how he made the shift into the arts.
“I got tired of digging up broken pieces and decided I wanted something in tact,” says Brian.
“I bought a kiln from a person on the condition he would teach me the basics. I also enrolled in a hobby glazing course. And then I taught myself from there.”
That was 18 years ago and now bisonhome is a well-established brand that is sold in over 80 stockists across Australia and internationally.
“We’ve just launched our first ever glass pieces. I called the carafe ‘Birgit’ and the tumblers ‘Elias’ after my Swedish parents.”
Brian studied for one year in Sweden and remains in close contact with his host family, visiting every 12-18 months.
“For Christmas we’ll be doing some accessories out of cinnamon and I’m also looking into sustainable practices for fabric accessories.
Brian made the bisonhome collection from his workshop in Canberra but fell sick several years ago.
“I saw getting sick as an opportunity rather than a negative.
“It made me reassess what I was doing. It’s really hard to attract long-term staff locally in some of the creative industries where you are constantly battling against the pull of Sydney and Melbourne.
“I found some boutique studios in Thailand and Indonesia that share my passion for quality and design. They have been doing ceramics for thousands of years so I decided to teach my way of making and glazing.
“They make the pieces just as good, if not better, than I do!”
Now Brian focuses his attention on the design and marketing side of bisonhome.
“I already have the next two to three years of designs in my head.
“Some people want me to keep evolving my designs and there are others who don’t want you to change,” laughs Brian.
“When I do a limited edition people get upset when it finishes!
“Soon I’ll bring back our dog bowls in entrée, main and extra helping sizes. They were so popular and people keep asking for them.”