Q&A: Chris Connell on designing the MP Stool

This season at MPavilion, we’re celebrating Australian design—leading, of course, with MPavilion 2019 itself, designed by Australia’s only Pritzker Architecture Prize recipient, Glenn Murcutt AO. To create seating for use throughout our four-month season of free events, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation—which commissions each year’s MPavilion—asked acclaimed Melbourne-based designer Chris Connell of Chris Connell Design to conceive a series of stools, resulting in the elegant and earth-red MP Stool.

Made in collaboration with local furniture design and manufacture practice grazio&co, who ensured the stools were produced in Melbourne, the MP Stool is just one more reason to visit MPavilion 2019 when it opens this Thursday 14 November in the Queen Victoria Gardens. Chris will also be leading a workshop at MPavilion—‘From Brief to Product’ with Chris Connell, on Thursday 28 November, 6–7.30pm—giving participants an opportunity to sketch with one of Australia’s finest.

‘MP Stool’ designed by Chris Connell Design. Photo by Tom Ross.

We spoke with Chris about his creative process and the design of the MP Stool.

MPavilion: Tell us about the ideas and inspiration behind your MP Stool for use at MPavilion during our season of free events?

Chris Connell: The stool needed to be practical, stackable and be used as an accessory for coming events, yet not be the hero—an object for use.

MPavilion: How did Glenn Murcutt’s MPavilion design inform the design for the stool? You’ve mentioned the colour—earth red—is connected to Glenn’s practice?

Chris: The shallow dip of the roof form and its materiality informed my inspiration to begin the design process, and through the evolution and further discussion and prototyping the stool took on its final incarnation. The long form of some of the stools recognise the long form of the pavilion. The colour, primer red, evokes our Australian landscape. In a similar way, Glenn’s buildings respond to nature.

MPavilion: The MP Stool is a special commission from the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. What were the considerations of designing for a public space and a season of events?

Chris: The stool needed to be practical—strong and stackable and compact for ease of storage, and importantly a compatible accessory to Glenn Murcutt’s design.

MPavilion: You collaborated with grazia&co to have the MP Stool manufactured locally—we’re excited that the stool is Australian designed and made. Was this your first time working with them?

Chris: I have recently began working with grazia&co and thought that this was the ideal company to produce this stool ,as stated Austrailian  designed and made which grazia and co are recognised for.

MPavilion: We’ve seen beautiful hand drawings from your design processes. Is that the first step? How does your creative process work?

Chris: There is nothing like pen to paper to express an idea. From thought to execution, the line can change and with it a new idea can evolve.

Join Chris Connell in a drawing workshop and presentation at MMEETS—‘From Brief to Product’ with Chris Connell on Thursday 28 November, 6–7.30pm. Read more about the MP Stool, designed by Chris Connell Design and commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.