Article by New Age Veneers: Posted on February 7, 2018 at 10:15 am. by Po-Tien Goh
Meet the Designer: Garth Elliott of ZETR
New Age Veneers is thrilled to present the second in our “Meet the Designer” series, which introduces innovative designers who have selected our premium decorative surfaces for their projects. For the second part of our series, we sit in with Garth Elliott of ZETR.
A few years ago, from humble beginnings in a Bondi garage, a revolutionary design for electrical accessories was born. An Australian first, ZETR's range of trim-less, and completely flush switches and outlets merge seamlessly into various wall types including plasterboard, stone, tile, render, timber and timber veneer all achieving a minimalist, smooth finish.
ZETR is the brainchild of Garth Elliott – who worked as an electrician from Perth before relocating to Sydney to start an electrical contracting business, East Electrical. For nearly 7 years Garth specialised in high-end residential and commercial fit-outs, and saw a growing trend towards the minimalist design aesthetic. It was during this time, after endless discussions with architects, homeowners, builders and designers and recognising the lack of innovation and design aesthetic coming from the electrical accessory market, that he began the first concepts for ZETR.
With this keen eye for design details and a deep understanding of the practical requirements of discerning specifiers and clients, Garth used his passion and creativity to educate himself on the elements of premium product design, production and supply.
Part of this upskilling involved learning about CAD software.
“The software company Fusion 360 offered their CAD design software for free to start-ups, sharing their knowledge via tutorials, including tech support, which is incredibly rare. They are immensely supportive of entrepreneurs like myself, and I’m happy to now be able to pay them back for their generosity,” says Garth.
His perfectionism, appreciation of quality and determination has led to the introduction of premium electrical accessories which offer a sublime and understated addition to any modern architecture and interior design.
The importance of this introduction is why Garth approached NAV to showcase these elegant solutions.
“It is industry partnerships such as what we have created between New Age Veneers and ZETR, that will allow us to really push and challenge what we as suppliers can deliver and design for the architectural industry,” says Garth.
“Both our companies are aligned on a similar ethos, and we are both supportive of Australian design for a responsible future, without of course compromising on finish, quality and functionality. 2018 will be an exciting year for ZETR and New Age Veneers as we work together to explore ways to fully integrate veneer finishes into our range. ”
NAV is proud to work with Garth and ZETR on this new range of refined minimalist switches and outlets; merging functionality and innovative design to complement global architectural trends, right here, in Australia.
As part of our “Meet the Designer” series, we asked Garth 10 questions to find out more about his inspiration and ethos as a designer and entrepreneur.
Tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up living in various rural locations around Australia and New Zealand. From far north QLD, rural parts of New Zealand and the north-west mining towns of WA. We relocated regularly, which was an amazing experience to grow up in such diverse and isolated places. After years of moving around my family settled on the beaches of Perth where we spent most of our time surfing. I left school just after I turned 15 to complete an electrical apprenticeship with my dad and then moved to the east coast when I was 19.
What was the defining moment that inspired you to create Zetr?
I have had an electrical contracting business (East Electrical) specialising in high end residential and commercial fit-outs for nearly 7 years. We completed two major minimalist residential projects and I realised that the industry was progressing quickly in terms of minimalist design aesthetic, but many electrical products were limited and even becoming stagnant. So, after endless discussions with architects, home-owners, builders and designers I began the first concepts for Zetr.
How did the name “ZETR” come about?
The words in ZETR stands for ‘Electrical Trimless Recessed’. These are the words that I use to describe the product. We wanted the acronym to provide a name that would really identify with the minimalist tone of the range. “Z” was added because I wanted something unique as a name and website, and “Z” happens to be a visual balance against the “R” in the logo. So, we went with “ZETR”.
3 bits of advice you would give someone starting a business.
Work really hard and take your time to perfect what you are creating. It always takes twice as long, costs twice as much… yet it is twice as rewarding.
If you are relying on other industries such as toolmakers or manufacturers, don’t go with the cheapest option. Quality, time and workmanship wins in the end.
Meet as many people as you can because there are so many intelligent and experienced types that are willing to help you and give you advice if you ask. Accept helping hands.
What’s been the most challenging part of setting up Zetr?
When transitioning from a service industry to designing and manufacturing a range of products, there is a whole new world to learn. I was always listening and open to advice, working closely with our teams both locally and overseas which I think is key to overcoming the knowledge gaps.
I really didn’t know anything about the design process in terms of injection moulding and manufacturing. I had to learn an entire new trade in a really short space of time. This made it an exciting process and allowed me to take risks with the product and design process to really push what we could produce.
What’s been the most satisfying part of setting up Zetr?
Our designs for Zetr are the first of their kind in Australia and New Zealand. No one in this market has designed an assembly that allows for flush finishing of outlets and switches. So essentially, we have invented something that is completely new from nothing. There is nothing more satisfying than that. Along the journey we have also started working with some of the most talented creatives around Australia which has really influenced our range and my design process.
Family, my little boy and girl. If that counts as a hobby.
Surfing. We live our lives at the beach.
Exploring the coastlines of the world.
Favourite movie, book?
Sorry I have loads……
The Fall 2006 Directed by Tarsem Singh
Drive 2011 directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Victoria 2015 directed by Sebastian Schipper
I do not see any of these films as mainstream with massive budgets, yet they all are so creative and visually spectacular in such different ways.
Hyperion – Dan Simmons
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
What music do you listen to while you work?
I tend to work best in silence when on the computer. When I am in the workshop I’m listening to Future Islands, Eddie Current Suppression Ring and at the moment I am into modern country.
Dream destination for design and aesthetic inspirations?
Brazil for their modern residential architecture.
Shanghai for their city scape and futurist design.
Barcelona for a mix of gothic and modern.
NAV loves working with leading-edge designers who push the limits of design and provide innovative solutions. We look forward to working with ZETR on new and innovative projects in 2018.