‘You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.’ – Franz Kafka.

IMG_2489So I walk past a shop window and a detail on a table stops me dead – just like that – I loved it and then moved on and forgot it as you do.

Then not so long back – the tiny dining table/desk I made for my partner and I to eat/work off in our tiny home was just too restrictive for social effectiveness – now I don’t claim to have a lot of friends and socialising is pretty low on the agenda, but every now and then one of the finest and most foundational things that makes us human is sitting down together and breaking bread.

So I made us this reworking of the table I saw so briefly – and talking it through with our favourite architect – the extremely talented Mark Simpson of Design Office – it turns out he was involved in the original design of this piece back in the UK.

Small world, people…

So Mark – when are you coming over for pasta and red wine?


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“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things…” – Rainer Maria Rilke.

IMG_2484So with public writing, particularly when it’s about your business, it is always tempting to edit in your favour – You know, in truth, we always do, not just on Facebook which is why the Buddhists invented insight meditation… It’s amazing what you see when you have nowhere to go.

So in respect of this posts title quote – this prototype chair is a work in progress – anIMG_2475 exploration of the limits of leather to sling and hold a form under tension and how this wracks the framework of the piece…

IMG_2466Chairs, to quote one of my most respected heroes, ‘…take a beating like a rented mule…’

So this one, finally all seated up and actually genuinely comfortable undoes me at the last, and pops a joint with a faintest of cracks…

Times like these is why they came up with good whisky and small cigars.


Back to it…

– John

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“Little flashes of sun on the surface of a cold, dark sea…” J.P. Sartre (again)

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.12.39 am Savage though the modern market is, We love being asked to develop product – not for just anyone mind – so where we can persuade the Behemoths to source local and make local – well we feel we’ve done a good thing for our brother, but it must be using materials from a decent source. This sweet pair of bathroom pieces are currently available at Roger Seller – Their designs (with a bit of help from their friends) and our craftsmanship conspire to provide something I hope is genuinely good to look at, and good to use. Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.15.07 am Get foaming you bathing apes! – John

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“The best work is not what’s most difficult for you; It’s what you do best…” J.P. Sartre

IMAG0243I like this statement by old JPS – he knew a thing or two about himself and had great taste in relationship partners.

I am trying to put this into practice every day…

Now, tIMAG0245his odd contraption, clad in a fine rippled spotted gum veneer, has two notable features; A deep cut out for the Law Review/World Atlas, and a sliding steel form that sits just shy of the surface and glides up and down…

One coffee to the individual who conceives of the best use for this articulating oddity!(Collections only)

– John

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‘The drug of the nation…’

IMG_2434Two of our favourite people at the moment are Andrew Kelly of Auction Rooms and Small Batch roasting, and Mark Simpson of Design Office.

We have recently completed one of the most comprehensively thought IMG_2372through, detail focused installations for public space that we have had the privilege of working on, and though getting this project pushed through in the time frame was no easy thing, I am breathing deep and happy having just had a month away from the shop as a just reward for being done.

Look, on the surface, yes it’s just a cafe.

And yes, Melbourne has a few of these, so why bother spruiking this one in particular?

IMG_2386Well other than being a project that I sweated blood for and worked a raft of 18 hour days on, the level of consideration  that has gone into the detail and crafting the user experience is genuinely unique.

We got to use a heap of lovely solid European Ash from FSC sources closely matched with custom pressed veneers – Every square inch of the beautiful Osmo oil finishes was hand rolled and rubbed back by yours truly. We specified and had made all the custom perforated metalIMG_2359 components.

We almost drove the steel boys into an early grave with the most complex sink unit I’ve ever seen, made to house some of the cafe’s essential grinders while providing custom designed workstations for individual barista’s. All the signage and trolleys were custom rolled perforated metals – and that’s not to mention the IMG_2423modesty screen for the coffee machine… Why, you might well ask?

Fact is, the heart of this whole project is Andrews’ unflagging enthusiasm for drinking coffee in its naked smoky gloriousness – no sugar, no milk… Filter it is all the way.

So you can get a latte, but that’s not the point of this place – it is more than a cafe, it really is an attempt to provide a genuinely different IMG_2367experience of our drug of choice.

IMG_2350It is a beautiful space, designed as a temporary thing, that could be transported if and when needs be… And the best thing is how the light plays through the room during the day, catching startling reflections of sunlight off the surrounding buildings making the hand rubbed transparent finishes glow softly as dusk falls and the gloom deepens.

Happy days people.

– John


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“There’s no money in chairs” (Circa 1870).


We clearly love an uphill battle, which is lucky because if it was hard to break even a hundred and fifty years ago, it surely is a tough one in this current climate of price wars and disposable imports.

IMG_2276However, it is a little known secret that there is  a strange motive force available in the cosmos that is released by exactly this process – swimming upstream garners all sorts of support from surprising IMG_2274quarters both psychologically and from the outside world; and when it comes to the curiously ephemeral and hard to grasp process of design (how I hate this word now) it has to be said that the only way to find gold is the long slow process of panning it out.

Sure, you might come up with a significant nugget from time to time, almost as if you stumbled over it unawares, however this overlooks the long hard times IMG_2305spent over the years that earn one these joyous moments.

So this chair is a work in progress, it represents hours of unpaid input and looks as simple as can be… I couldn’t resist a few more detail shots for posterity.

Out curiosity, I haven’t seen a back laid up this way by pinning leather into a visible slot – however instinct tells me there are remarkably few new ideas, so please – if you have seen something similar let us know…

– John

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Six of the best!

IMG_2209It was a big year last year, much was bitten off, mostly chewed, and we were spat out finally for Christmas with a deep sigh of relief…

A lot of commercial work was done, much of it enjoyable but not really material for this blog so we apologise for being a bit sparse, however this year has been and will be a wholeIMG_2227 lot more about the craft and about enjoying life beyond the boundaries of the workshop (which does exist, believe it or not).

IMG_2226So I am very happy to introduce the ‘Leatherback’ (no turtles were harmed) – which we have bashed together for our good friend Iain Munro of Cornershop in Yarraville.

His old school chairs were getting so wobbly, there was genuine fear for life and limb, so in response to a need we have come up with something we think will grace the very handsome and yet very human Yarraville cafe/restaurant that is one of Iains’ finest creations yet.

Leatherback 1.0 sports a double layer of italian saddlery leather, laid up with a central layer of canvas, which is located in a slot in the uprights and pinned with brass Chicago screws. We love those old school materials…

Leatherback 1.1 will utilise a seat slung like the back, with a little bit more devilry in the details – it’s no easy thing to resolve so have a bit of patience, but we hope the end result will be a truly comfortable and stylish dining chair… Might even make a lounger version too…


So when are you opening that pub you promised us Iain?

– John

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