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Reinvention by design

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

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Nathan Weyers graduated from WAAPA’s Production and Design course in 2009 and has since gone on to open a Ballarat-based design and construction workshop that produces sets for some of the world’s biggest theatre productions.

NJW Designs has worked on more than 120 theatre shows including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, Salome for the Victorian Opera, Anna Karenina for the Australian Ballet, and Sovereign Hill’s latest show, Aura.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the live entertainment industry earlier this year, Nathan’s business took a massive hit, with 48 jobs that would have employed staff for up to 12 months cancelling overnight.

Nathan realized he had to rethink his business model to keep himself and his team employed.

“Overnight I changed the business from scenery to furniture,” he says. “We began designing and making working-from-home furniture and tactile games to entertain the kids in an aim to provide those now working and studying from at home with an option that is affordable, goes together with no tools, and is delivered to your door in under a week, something traditional furniture places don’t do.”

The success of Formed by Function has allowed Nathan to welcome back nine of his staff and increase production to six days a week.

Nathan describes how the ‘no tools’ design of the furniture is taken from NJW Design’s theatre building techniques.

“For theatre companies, one of the biggest expenses when touring a show is the period the show is moving, so one of the ways we have combatted that is to build scenery that requires no tools to be installed. You simply use your hands to pull pins and release clips,” he explains.

Nathan is also in the process of developing a range of flatpack products suitable for community theatre groups, from ‘brick’ walls to staircases and rostrums.

“If we can help the local theatre groups bounce back faster with cheaper solutions, then hopefully this will assist spring-boarding the industry back.”

Nathan’s philanthropic attitude also extends to the wider arts industry, with part of each Formed by Function sale being donated to three charities that support arts workers.

View all of the incredible creations Nathan has designed and built here: http://www.formedbyfunction.com

Media contact

For all media enquiries, please contact:

Anton Maz, Marketing Manager
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
Edith Cowan University, 2 Bradford St, Mt Lawley WA 6050
(+61 8) 9370 6817 | a.maz@ecu.edu.auwaapa.ecu.edu.au

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