George HarperDiploma of Arts (Furniture Design) (2007)

George Harper enjoyed working as an Executive Assistant for Work Cover’s dispute resolution service, but he never saw himself spending his life in an office, so he made a break for freedom and turned to Box Hill Institute to realise his dream of becoming a furniture designer and maker.

In hindsight the talent and drive was always there. As a child he enjoyed technical drawing and showed an interest in interior design; he even created a table during some spare time away from work. But it wasn’t until he learnt of a Diploma of Furniture Design and Making offered at various TAFEs that he started to seriously consider furniture design as a viable profession.

In 2006, impressed by the balance of curriculum on offer, George began the two-year Diploma at Box Hill Institute. His experience with the teachers was completely positive and the coursework met his expectations at both practical and theoretical levels. This combination of personal drive and professional teaching gave him the toolset he needed to start up his own business.

George set up TIDE design in his second year of study and began to carefully hand-craft pieces with a 1950s aesthetic inspired by the precise simplicity of Scandinavian design. Right from the start he was drawn to imported timbers —particularly North American varieties such as cherry, oak, and walnut—which are sourced from sustainable, well-managed forests.

The response to his work has been stunning.

In 2007 he won Box Hill Institute’s annual Best Furniture Award and he began to feature prominently in The Age, Herald Sun, Insite Magazine, Inside Out—even prestigious Vogue Living. Commentators have noted that his pieces are comparable to the great designs of Jacobsen, Klint, and Moller in the sense that they have achieved a refined sculptural quality without the need for decoration.

Looking forward, George plans to build on these foundations, and continue to develop the TIDE range with a view to establishing a TIDE showroom in inner Melbourne.