Design update with Head of Product Design, Tania Da Cruz

We sit down to chat with Tania Da Cruz who works at Icon By Design as Head of Product Design. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Tania grew up in Brussels and then moved to Italy to do her Bachelor’s – and later, her Master’s – at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. Among the many feathers in her creative cap are her collaboration at Marcel Wanders’ studio in Amsterdam, her first collection at Salone Satellite at Milano Design Week in 2011 and winning the Salone Satellite Award in 2013. 

Tania Da Cruz – Head of Product Design

What are the design principles that shapes the furniture that’s crafted at Icon By Design?

In order to reflect who we are, we always make sure our products respect our core principles of sustainability, timelessness and quality craftsmanship. You will notice that all our furniture has clean lines and is made from FSC-certified solid timber. At the core, our designs are elegantly simple, well-crafted and built to stand the test of time.

‘Form follows function’ is a guiding principle that many designers, architects and stylists swear by to this very day. How do you apply this to the collections you design at Icon By Design?

‘Form follows function’ is, in fact, my motto. In essence, it means that the shape of an object should primarily relate to its intended purpose. With this in mind, the starting point of our designs are always dictated by our customers: Why do they need a particular piece of furniture? What purpose does that item need to fulfil? How can our products add value to their lives? We engage with the public to do our research before we start the initial design process. 

Modern Australians have embraced the open plan living style of home. What styling tips should we keep in mind to make this space cohesive and comfortable?

I love to entertain so I’m a big fan of open plan spaces. My styling tip is to always keep a harmonious visual link between the different areas; this could be a colour, a theme or a style. It’s a balancing act because if it’s too matchy-matchy, it can be boring; if it’s got too many elements, it will appear too busy. There is a Scandinavian word that I love: “lagom”. It means not too much, not too little – just right! So, I would say follow this concept and keep it “lagom”! 

Tell us about the Stefan dining chair that you’ve just helped create. What was the inspiration behind it? What are its key features?

With the Stefan chair, I wanted to include upholstery on the backrest for a comfy-looking chair. The wraparound curved shaped is organic and playful yet subtle. When customers sit in the Stefan, I want them to be able to relax – whether it’s after a long day at work or whether they’re enjoying a meal with friends. 

Stefan Dining Chair in graphite grey

How do you make a house a home? How do you personalise it and stamp it with your own unique style that tells a story about the people who live there?

I believe that what gives a home a personal touch is how you play with accessories, colour, texture, art and plants. That’s why I think it is important to choose clean, minimalist-styled furniture as the foundation of any room, which can then be styled and decorated according to your personal preferences – whether it’s colourful art by an indigenous artist you admire, beautiful tableware handed down to you by your grandma, or verdant pot plants if you’ve got a green thumb. Display it in vignettes around your home instead of keeping it locked up. It’s your home – let it reflect who you are.

The entertaining season is fast approaching. Give us your tips to make it enjoyable and easy.

This will sound controversial, but when it’s time for celebrations, instead of “Less is more”, I tend to say, “Less is a bore!” I believe the sky’s the limit when it comes to decorations and festivities – the more, the merrier. As long as the elements you choose look visually pleasing, you’ll be fine. Make it fun, make it joyful, make it memorable!