Everyday Aesthetic: Andrew Howley

There’s not much that Andrew Howley doesn’t notice. With the curiosity of a child and the technical know-how of a top industrial designer, he’s likely to spend a good part of a night out analyzing the form and function of every product he comes into contact with. It’s a trait that the 31-year-old Melbourne-based designer has possessed since birth. “I’ve always wanted to design,” explains the father of one. “I spent a great deal of my childhood drawing cars and houses and building Lego spaceships.” When a crayon wasn’t available, Howley browsed his shelves, delving into the how and why behind the design of his toys, clocks and household appliances. “I once pulled apart a transistor radio and made a whole new casing for it out of cardboard,” he admits. “I even cut little speaker holes out and glued colored paper over the whole thing… I guess I’ve always felt compelled to pull things apart or unscrew appliances to see how they work.”

Two decades later, Howley has put his inquiring mind to good use, becoming one of Australia’s most respected young designers and landing a coveted role with renowned agency Charlwood Design. Howley, along with a team of “talented and intelligent designers” at Charlwood, has been making waves in the international design arena (Charlwood won the Chicago Athenaeum 2009 Good Design Award). Howley’s position sees him involved in a range of product development and design, including floor mops—“they may not sound exciting, but it’s rewarding for me to try and make such products more interesting”—and has allowed him to further develop his skills, as well as to help create a more environmentally friendly future. “At the moment,” he says, “I’m really excited about a new eco-friendly BPA-free reusable water bottle we’re doing [pictured] and also a new rugged case for a Blackberry that features its own touch screen.”

He is also excited about the work of fellow designer Naoto Fukasawa, best known for his work with Muji and Plus Minus Zero. “I love the simplicity of his work. His styling is incredibly restrained, but carries such impact.”

According to Howley, it’s his innate curiosity mixed with his experience as a consumer that allow him to create products
that look good enough and, more importantly, work well enough to last a lifetime. “I often use my own experience as inspiration. I find myself frustrated with pieces that are either poorly designed or fail to function efficiently,” says Howley. “The strongest designs are the products we use everyday without giving them a second thought. These are the objects that work so well we take them for granted… Ultimately, the best design outcome is when form and function cannot be separated.”

– Fiona Killackey