My first choice of career would have been graphic or interior design, but a (sensible, Swiss) parental decision had me ending up in a formal apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker. After that and a few years at the high end of the trade I went out on my own.
First steps into original furniture came with the encounter of contemporary American furniture making in the ‘80s.
A particular inspiration was the late Japanese-American George Nakashima, who put together stunning natural timbers and precise joining technique. A lasting impression was his spectacular collection of massive slabs of timber.
Formal training in Switzerland is very thorough and far reaching, but also very restricting in its use of cuts of wood. The best and most beautiful bits are rarely used and the designs are fairly staid.
Coming to NZ and working at L’Etacq studio in Christchurch was liberation pure. In an unconventional environment creative thinking was not only encouraged and taught, but the norm. There also was an amazing array of different timbers, some of which I’m using only now, thirty years later. The stage was set and I was soon opening my own studio, dedicated to making unique sculptural furniture.
What initially were still essentially two dimensional graphic designs put onto a cabinet..
… soon became three dimensional sculptures in themselves.
Textures followed form: As a contrast by themselves or carved through an added layer, which opened further new design aspects. Doing my own photography, I realized how important the shadows can become and how much they can add to some of the pieces when in place.
Since my first trip to Japan I have also become interested in those amazing traditional dry joints they developed and to create my own has become an enjoyable featured challenge as well.
With an exciting timber selection on hand, from Apricot to Yew and all kinds of fiddleback, burr and other interesting growth features among them, matching or contrasting different woods has become part of the designs. A unique bit of wood has at times been the inspiration to a new piece. All colours are natural, I never use stains. When wood matures, most fresh colours change and even out. It is important, that shape, texture and grain then take over to keep the features alive.
Nakashima moments: My woodshed and the selection of timbers for the making of “Exuberance” below.
In this later stage of my career, barely bridled fantasy and a good eye for graphic expression meet the wisdom of decades of trial and learning. Intimate knowledge of the properties of wood, solid traditional and contemporary techniques and patience fueled by passion, come together to make original wooden statements unlike any others.