Wood designer-maker Stuart Houghton

Wood designer-maker Stuart Houghton

I was born in Melbourne and I've been in Tasmania for about 14 years. I like Tasmania because I like the bush, I like the weather, I like the timber. It's a much more natural environment than the mainland. The landscape here is inspirational to my work. I find I get the best ideas when I'm out in the bush.

Stuart's rocking chair from the Wood Design Collection.
Stuart's rocking chair from the Wood Design Collection.

My childhood was spent playing around my father's workshop. It was just something I carried on throughout my life. I was always fiddling around making things. Once I got to my mid 20s I decided I wanted to make a career of it and at that point I went to school at the University of Tasmania and stayed here and I've been in practice ever since.

I never made any proper pieces of furniture until adulthood and they were always things I needed. I was living in share houses and I moved around a bit so I'd make things that were easy to take apart for transportation.

I've always been rather fascinated by seating. Seating is a pretty broad thing - from couches to chairs and stools. I've always liked that interaction with the human body, the intimacy with it. I find cabinets a bit sterile. A chair has to be comfortable, that's absolutely essential. If they're not comfortable, they're just a piece of sculpture. A chair has to look right too. You can't really divorce function and form, they have to go together.

I think my all time favourite chair is the Charles and Ray Eames "LCM" chair of plywood and chrome steel designed in the late 40s. It was simple, perfect, just two planes and a simple frame. That's what I've always liked, that simplicity.

The rocking chair is a favourite of mine. The comfort mixed with the practicality. It allows that gentle movement combined with comfort. You don't feel anchored to the spot. Even the Shakers allowed themselves a little bit of movement. The rocking chair is a nostalgic chair. There's that image of the person sitting on the verandah late in the day rocking back and forth gently - it's an ideal really.

I have spent long hours testing my favourite rocking chair early in its life. Testing chairs is one of the perks of the job.

The supply of materials here is going to be a long-term problem. You can already see some species becoming less and less available. You just cannot get certain timbers anymore. Sooner or later we'll all be using radiata pine.


Wood designer-maker Peter Adams

Having the opportunity as a youngster to spend my summers in the forests and lakes of Northern Michigan I'm sure has affected what I'm doing right now. I remember being in the forest and playing with sticks, assembling them, and liking the feeling of being with the trees.

Wood designer-maker Mark Bishop

I'm a self-taught wood turner. That didn't satisfy me in some way, there was something missing. So I toddled off to the Canberra School of Art and spent a couple of years there doing a furniture-based wood course.

Wood designer-maker Peter Costello

I turned to furniture mid-career. I was actually trained as a musician and a high school teacher and I decided to do something else. I'd done a lot of building before and I suddenly decided to build stuff that I was going to sell instead of keep.

Wood designer-maker Linda Fredheim

About fifteen years ago I bought a little house that I was going to renovate but I could never find anyone to do things exactly as I wanted them.

Wood designer-maker Toby Muir-Wilson

My workshop is on part of the family farm and I've lived alongside it or near it all my life apart from the occasions where I've been studying or working overseas or interstate.

Wood designer-maker Kevin Perkins

I was born in Tasmania. My father was in the timber industry so I was always surrounded by stories of timber and things like that. I left school at 14 to do a trade in joinery. Prior to that I was more interested in making boats.

Wood designer-maker John Smith

I came to Australia in 1970 to take up a teaching position at the Tasmanian School of Art. We were probably some of the last of the Ten Pound Poms. I was very keen after going through college in the UK to travel overseas and try other cultures.

Wood designer-maker Marcus Tatton

I remember carving when I was about 8. I used to steal my mum's lino carving tools. I was able to go down to the workshop in the garage and carve away. I think the first thing I came up with was an acanthus leaf. I was really pleased with that.