Ross Thompson emphasizes craftsmanship and quality in his furniture, while also drawing on his musical side.
Growing up, Ross Thompson could most likely be found in the back shed of his family’s home in Ballarat, Victoria, helping his dad repair stuff and build things. Little wonder, then, that he decided to undertake a furniture apprenticeship at a local Daylesford business straight out of high school. In late 2016, he established his own furniture studio in South Geelong, where he’s currently based. The only surprise in all of this is that he left his apprenticeship halfway through to study contemporary music for three years.
“I needed to take a break and rediscover what it really meant to me to be able to practise woodwork,” says Ross, reflecting on that seminal time. “My music degree gave me so much insight into how people express their art and I finally understood that it doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you have the conviction to do it.”
This thoughtful, sensitive approach underpins the emerging designer-maker’s portfolio, which boasts exquisite timber pieces that are all the more resplendent for their fine form and detailing. The clean lines of the Tambour Door Unit and the Easy Chair reflect Ross’s love of mid-century modernism, while his Liquor Cabinet’s patterned sensibilities are a clever interpretation of classic Art Deco styling. But it’s the Gentleman’s Robe that best exemplifies his respect and feel for timber, evident in the synergy between the geometric cabinet’s blackheart sassafras doors and ebonized tapered legs.
A strong sense of harmony pervades the configurations and compositions of Ross’s furniture and he’s the first to concede that there are undeniable similarities between music and woodwork as practices. “I always thought design could just be like someone pressed pause on a piece of music and built the physical form. The contrast between quiet and loud or the way musical notes connect with rhythm to create melody is exactly the same as the way materials relate to each other in furniture making,” he explains.
The creation of each of his furniture pieces may very well require a considerable amount of uninterrupted concentration and attention, yet nothing feels forced. Ross’s focus on producing works that are well-proportioned and visually balanced ensures the hand of the maker is always apparent and that outstanding craftsmanship is the priority. He’s currently completing an ambitious commission for a writing desk and, in his free time, reading David Pye’s The Nature and Art of Workmanship. “It’s my bible,” says Ross. “As well as an incredible source of clarity when you’re wondering why you might spend a whole day cutting and chiselling dovetails.”