It is with great sadness that the ANU alumni community farewells Robert Foster, artist, designer, friend, mentor and loved one. Rob passed away on Wednesday July 13th after a tragic car accident. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Gretel, and their daughters Ineska and Mischa.
A water jug could be the plainest of items but in such an everyday object Robert Foster saw a greater creative potential.
When commissioned to create a jug by Canberra restaurant "The Republic", Robert took aluminium tubing, an everyday yet sustainable material, and fashioned it into a sleek economically-viable product. The original tooling involved old pieces of steel from his father's tractor and wood from a fence post.
The result was a unique way of manufacturing and an icon of style was created.
The F!NK + Co Water Jug was born and twenty-two years later, Robert still makes the water jug for places such as the Royal College of Art, London and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Robert has also branched out to design and has made lighting installations such as "The Journey", at ActewAGL House in Canberra and giant curtain panels in five star hotels.
Robert trained in traditional silversmithing at the ANU School of Art and has since developed his natural inquisition of an engineer to become a sophisticated designer.
His diverse understanding of process, his knowledge of materials and his constant need to challenge visual language have made him one of the most notable contemporary designer and makers in Australia.
Robert's artistic practice and his capacity to commercialise design solutions have created a pioneering and sustainable business. His work-mainly in hollowware, sculptural lighting and furniture-is held by major Australian institutions including the National Gallery of Australia and the Parliament House Art Collection as well as many notable overseas institutions.
Robert and his small team, which includes his wife Gretel, create various table vessels, jewellery and lighting ranges. F!NK + Co has more than 37 designs within its range and is a production house for an increasing pool of young Australian designers.
Based in Queanbeyan, Robert is committed to helping the region's artists. He has worked collaboratively with artists in the research and development and realisation of commercial products, as well as one-off artistic works.
He has employed and provided internships, mentoring and work experience to over 25 ANU students, and six ANU graduates have designed products for the F!NK range. Robert has regularly lectured, given specialised workshops and been a key-note speaker at international conferences