It was a nice surprise to receive the second volume of Hearth Magazine during the heat of the Christmas rush this morning. The girls from the Utah, U.S.A, based magazine got in contact and said they would like to story on my father and I, the work that we do and what is most important, Family!
After seeing my work
online, Tony emailed me and asked if I was interested in pricing a sideboard
for his newly renovated house in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
After a recent tour
through Ernest Hemingway’s house, one of Tony’s most favoured writers, he was
inspired by a cabinet he saw there and sent me through an image. It was a
simple cabinet yet very practical, holding nothing more then Ernest’s own book
collection, LP’s and a couple of ornaments. Tony wanted to take this idea of a
practical use of storage and apply it to his vast CD and LP collection but he
wanted it beautified with a craftsman’s touch as this bespoke piece of
furniture was intended to be in the household for many generations to come.
Ernest Hemingway's original cabinet.
After chatting with Tony and getting a clear understanding of what he wanted, I came up with two drawings. Option A and B. Option A was a basic approach to the specifications that I received and Option B was a more minimalist, mid-century take of the Hemingway cabinet as I have incorporated raised overhead units with down-lights, glass shelves and also the main feature, A 800mm high by 2400mm long solid 40mm thick Black Butt bench top mitred at the corners creating a seamless join as the continuos grain wraps around this timeless piece of furniture.
Billy Mobbs gave me a helping hand during the installation.
Above is a detailed photo of the mitred cut bench top. It was important to me to try this method of detailed joinery as I don't see much of it these days. It was challenging to cut and join the mitre together and also to fit so perfectly to the wall, but as you can see it creates a seamless look and as a centre piece for the house, I wanted to make sure it was neat as a pin.
Detail photos of solid Black Butt timber beading used around the Sliver Ash drawer fronts.
Detail shot of over head unit.
The contrasting timbers tie in neatly with the continuos grain in the drawer fronts.
Full extension timber drawers with divisions in the for CD's are mounted on soft-close drawer runners and provide perfect functionality for everyday use.
A drawer within a drawer.
With Tony's faith in craftsmanship, it was a pleasure working on such a fine piece of furniture. Working with the highest quality timbers and well thought ideas, this job came together without one drama, even the installation was smooth and if ever given the chance, I would be more then happy to do it all over again.
My Milking Stools are now available through Small Stall in Palm Beach on the Gold Coast. If you want to check them out, you better be quick, they are walking out the door fast. This stool was on the floor no longer then five minutes before it was grabbed by a happy shopper.
Introduce yourself to Twahn, the shop owner and tell her I sent you for warm welcomes, high fives and free hugs.
with a fresh breath of creativity, we are introducing a new artist to our Assembly community, martin johnston. Born and bred on the north coast of NSW, Mrty was brought up by a talented cabinet maker, his father. He was destined to work with timber and after finding his love for design, Marty has grown into a fine craftsman himself.
Firstly Martin, where abouts are you from and how did you originally get into woodworking and design (furniture maker) ?
I’ve grown up here in the Byron Shire and was born with saw dust in my blood. My old man is a talented Cabinet Maker who could probably make a chair with his eyes closed. The guy is seriously a machine. After building a house he then built himself a workshop just north of Byron in a cow paddock you may know now as the new Splendour In The Grass site. As a young kid I was always pinching his off-cuts to make tree house’s, skate ramps and things but could never figure out why they would turn to shit whenever it rained. In hindsight, I guess MDF craft wood wasn’t the best choice of material, haha.
It wasn’t until I picked up a job in London at the Oxford St Urban Outfitters where I really started to channel my energy into design. This inner city five story building included a semi equipped workshop two levels below ground where we would pull apart pallets and somehow try to make shop fittings out of them. I didn’t spend that much time there but it sure did leave an impact.
Nowadays I’m living back in the Byron area and working along side my old man, learning something new everyday and focusing on my own craft.
We are obviously interviewing you because we love your sense of fine design and style. Where did your inspiration come from?
Japanese craftsmanship, British tradition and Scandinavian design. These are the three cultures I have the utmost respect for when it comes to style and design. I also find that people inspire me more then anything. Someone else passions can almost have an infectious impact on you and its always refreshing to meet new people who have that buzz. Whether it be a future client or somebody who is a master of their craft. A talented surfboard shaper, tattooist, graphic designer or even someone who can effortlessly put a magazine together – its these people who inspire me to push on and create something worth having in your house. I love running along side, or trying to keep up with people who push themselves.
I've noticed you have made a few surfing hand planes. Are you a surfer and what else are some of your hobbies?
Yeah, the hand planes are rad. I use mine whenever I can and lately the waves have been so good Its hard to pick the right craft. I have a lot of surfboards but the plane always come to the beach with me. Even on a recent trip to Agnes Water in QLD, we didn’t have enough room for our boards after all the camping equipment so we just packed in our hand planes and fins and surfed the most northern point break
What materials do you like working with the most and what was your favorite piece of furniture you have made?
I love timber. I cant help it. It spins me out every time I use it. I mean think about it for a sec, here is a material that grows for free. It cleans our air and provides shelter for living creatures and if used correctly it is the most sustainable resource known to man. Not to mention how beautiful it smells and feels. There’s really nothing like it. I guess that’s why Rhys Thomas and I got along so well as we both have a love for timber. He is a young Brisbane based designer who I recently collaborated with to make a series of four legged stools. However my favorite piece would have to be my most recent sideboard. All the Silky Oak and Red Cedar used came from the hills behind Byron Bay. It also features hand-cut dovetailed drawers on soft close runners for that modern functionality. Its nice to use and looks neat too.
Lastly Martin, what is the name of your business? Is it a big one or do you work by yourself? are you planning to expand or do you want to keep it exclusive?
For now, I believe that putting my name in front of my craft is the most honest and reliable way to produce quality workmanship. So I guess I’m happy to keep things smart casual and continue to collaborating with interesting and creative people. My workflow at this time is manageable for just myself but one day I do hope to pass on all my wood wizardry.