Griffith graduate debuts at Milan Design Week

Photo credit: Jonathon Griggs

Queensland College of Art graduate CJ Anderson recently made his debut at the renowned Milan Design Week – creating an industry buzz with his sleek, sophisticated furniture designs.

Milan Design Week was founded in 1961, and showcases the world’s leading brands and emerging designers, with a host of exhibitions, installations and pop-ups across the city.

Making waves on the design scene

Design alumnus CJ Anderson

CJ studied product design at the Queensland College of Art.  Since graduating in 2016, the Gold Coast native has made waves on the Australian design scene with his innovative furniture designs.

He has exhibited pieces at Denfair and AMG design fairs in Melbourne, and his work has featured in the pages of Vogue, Home & Garden and Home Beautiful magazines.

“Finding a balance between form, function and materiality is key,” he said.

“When people experience my work I want them to feel a sense of intrigue, to explore the work deeper and find their own meaning.”

International recognition

CJ showed his ‘Soigné’ chair in Milan as part of the Local Design exhibition, which showcased the work of up-and-coming Australian designers.

“I feel very honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to show my work in Milan – it’s been a lifelong dream,” he said.

“Being able to show my work alongside other Australian designers has been an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget.

“We managed to attract some high profile media coverage and interest from buyers, architects and interior designers.

“I was also able to check out the work of emerging and established designers and see what it takes to succeed on an international level.”

Fatherhood, family and furniture design

Soigné chair. Photo:

CJ said the ‘Soigné’ chair was inspired by the experience of becoming a father for the first time.

“I have a deep personal connection to this design. It was developed with my son Leo in mind – children see objects from a completely different perspective to adults, so I wanted to create a chair that took people back to their childhood.”

His decision to pursue a creative career was also inspired by family: CJ’s Dad ran a family business crafting custom motorcycles and he grew up surrounded by makers and designers. CJ’s work combines traditional craftsmanship and digital manufacturing, and he majored in 3D design at the QCA.

‘Studying at Griffith gave me the tools to create my own future’

CJ said his studies at the QCA had taught him how to channel his creativity into a career.

“Creativity has always been in my blood, but my time at the QCA gave me the tools to create my own future,” he said.

“My degree gave me the time, resources and mentors to explore the areas of design I was interested in, and fostered a sense of individual creativity.

“I grew up on the Gold Coast and the QCA had a very good offering in terms of providing a flexible degree.”

Dreaming big

Since graduation, CJ has worked full-time in the design field while building up his own furniture business.

“I was fortunate enough to gain employment with Urban Art Projects in Brisbane after I graduated.

“UAP works on large sculptures, architectural facades and outdoor furniture, and they are a global force in the art and design world. They  are very supportive of local artists and designers.”

So what is next for the young designer?

“On my ever-evolving bucket list is continuing to explore the world’s furniture fairs, from Stockholm Design Week to London Design Festival,” he said.

“It’s also a dream to see my designs represented by local and international brands.”