Words: Manuela Millan

Custom. Cool. Quick. Locally Made. Usually you have to compromise and choose one or two at most. We met up with Duncan Ward from Satelight to find out how they have made it possible to have it all.

Meanwhile In Melbourne Satelight 1.jpg

Since its founding in 1998 Duncan and the Satelight team have transformed and grown the company into an award-winning studio with a reputation for quality and consistency. 

Founded with ideas of flexibility and freedom in mind (hence the name Satelight) Duncan and his team have seen the industry change over the past 20 years. Looking at the local design industry today, it’s easy to forget that it has not always been as valued by local consumers as it is now. 

“It was much harder at that time, [the early 2000s] there wasn’t the trust in the local industry.” 

A key turning point, Duncan recounts, is the fall of the Australian dollar in the mid-2000s, which drove up the price of imported goods, giving the local design industry a rare and brief advantage, and a chance to re-introduce themselves to the local market. Even after the dollar had recovered and cheap imports began flowing back in, people had been given a taste of the quality of Australian design and manufacturing and they wanted more.


Meanwhile In Melbourne Satelight 2.jpg
Meanwhile In Melbourne Satelight 3.jpg
Meanwhile In Melbourne Satelight 4.jpg

Satelight and others set themselves apart by offering quality of materials and workmanship, and offering a degree of customisation and collaboration which you simply couldn’t get from an overseas bulk supplier. 

As well as designing their own range, they specialise in working with Architects and Interior Designers to develop custom pieces for projects and bring the brief to life. Their workshop and dedicated team allow them to produce commercial quantities of consistent quality for commercial projects, as well as one-off pieces for residential or private clients. In order to adapt to increasing demand, they took advantage of CNC and other technologies to keep up the pace while retaining customisability. 

“We have a team of people that we work with. We’ve brought a lot in-house just to give us that flexibility and speed, and I think that has really given us the scope to turnaround things much faster.”

Complementing their use of these techniques Satelight continues to work with local artisans to develop and create new lines and products. They are currently doing a lot of experimentation with glass and have brought in two artists with very different skill-sets to see what they can come up with.

We’ve been talking with a scientific glass-blower, and also with a really organic glass blower. From a lighting perspective there is so much you can do, there’s so much scope with glass.

We have no doubt that Satelight will continue to be busy, collaborating with local artists, preparing for trade shows such as Indesign and DENFAIR, and designing their own range of beautiful lighting, and we’ll be following along with their design journey as they go. 

Meanwhile In Melbourne Satelight 5 LR.jpg