Jon Goulder grew up surrounded by furniture, both in his family factory and at home. In 1992 he completed an apprenticeship in upholstery and furniture making to become a fourth generation craftsman.
He began his professional design career in 1994, designing soft furnishings for large commercial retailers, before moving to Canberra in 1996. He completed a Diploma of Art, Craft and Design in the wood workshop at the Canberra School of Art in 1999.
Much of the furniture surrounding Goulder in his youth was antique. He was encouraged to appreciate the various antique styles but always felt that the pieces were too busy, and to his eye, quite grotesque. He describes his clean-lined design sensibility as something of a reaction against this. During his time at the Canberra School of Art, Goulder was greatly influenced by Ian Gutheridge and the late George Ingham, who placed particular emphasis on craft skills within the course. "George was instrumental in the way I work because of his refinement and his philosophy on how to make things... to appreciate the process as you go rather than rushing to see the finished article."
Goulder lectured part-time in furniture design at the University of Technology, Sydney. He was also the visiting fellow, lecturing with design groups around Australia. His work has featured in a number of major publications around the world. He has exhibited at "Interiors", Object Galleries (2001), the Sydney Design Week "Workshopped" Exhibitions (2002 & 2003), Object Galleries, "Sydney Style" (2004), "Modern White 40 Degrees", Berlin (2004) and Harry Seidler's Selection, "50 Years of Good Design" (2000). He was the inaugural winner of the Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award with his Leda Seat, which has been purchased by the Powerhouse Museum.
Until recently, Goulder has been producing most of his pieces himself to control costs. His intention has always been for the pieces to go into production and now Woodmark is manufacturing his Leda Seat. Even more recently Goulder and two other designers have created a company called CAD (Contemporary Australian Design). CAD will facilitate the production and marketing of not only his own work but work of other designers also. CAD is developing relationships and is forging links with Asian manufacturers to then market the product globally.
In June 2006, Jon accepted the opportunity to work with FORM in Western Australia. FORM is a not-for-profit organization that works to maximise artistic, intellectual and economic endeavour in Western Australia's creative sector. FORM works to identify opportunities for the creative sector to fulfil its potential in commercial as well as artistic terms.