A NEW ERA OF CRAFTSMEN
Glassware, timber furniture and lounge chairs and sofas are standard finds in every household. But who are the young craftsmen working in these old-school trades now, how did they get started and how are they making the industry their own? We spoke to three craftsmen who make beautiful pieces and are the new artisans of the trade
Luke Makris, 30 The furniture maker, The Design Stoop, instagram.com/stoops.ibd
Proving qualifications aren’t always everything, Luke Makris started making furniture at his family’s business during his early teens.
“My dad fell into making lounges in the ’80s, but he started making bean bags and wooden toys,” he says. “I started working there when I was about 15, it was just a job until I was about 20 and then my mind flipped over once I discovered the history of furniture making and good design.”
Inspired by the likes of Sergio Rodrigues, Milo Baughman, Hans Wegner and the Featherstons to name a few, Luke’s style has a strong mid-century modern feel. “It’s based off who I like. I try and reinvent them, but for the first time now I’m making certain things that aren’t based on anyone else’s work, which is the most important part in my development,” he says. “I have a few things I’m making, like this hammock I’m developing, where I’m searching the internet deep for something similar and it’s just not there.”
Coming from a family of creatives, the 30-year-old hopes Adelaide can grow its smallscale studios and furniture-making businesses.
“There used to be so many little factories in Adelaide that made all kinds of furniture; now they’re all gone,” he says.“I can’t see myself running a business employing 20 guys, but I can see myself with three guys doing good stuff and being sold out for a year.”
Alex Conci, 25 The woodworker, Lupo Furniture instagram.com/lupofurniture
Following in the footsteps of a renowned family furniture business can be daunting, but Alexander Conci has taken it well into his stride.
“I used to be a house carpenter and hated that, so I went to TAFE and studied furniture design,” he says.
“I ended up working for Gareth Brown and then started myself up at Conci Furniture and my own business.”
Establishing Lupo Furniture in 2014, the 25-year-old admits being involved in the family’s business gave him a muchneeded headstart.
“It’s a pretty tough industry to get started in,” Alex says.
“Especially because there aren’t any furniture design courses in Adelaide any more.”
With a strong focus on quality, Alex’s diversity allows him to create a range of contemporary, antique and custom timber furniture, creating pieces such as dining tables, cabinets, beds and drawers.
“I have a particular style but I don’t get to make a lot of my own style,” he says.
“I like contemporary but then I love antique – it’s a massive fad for me. I just enjoy anything that’s made well and just has quality.”
Despite the difficulty many find breaking into the furniture craft field, Alex remains confident there’s a demand for hands-on jobs such as his.
“I do think this industry is growing, because there’s people that don’t want to get into the corporate world but they also don’t want to make coffee for the rest of their life,” he says.
“Whether it be woodwork, leatherwork – all these lost trades – a lot of people want to use their hands but no one knows where to learn it any more.
“My advice is to buy some tools and just start making stuff.”
Drew Spangenberg, 25 The glass blower, JamFactory dksglassdesign.com
Take a photography student from Whyalla and introduce him to glass blowing and you’d have Drew Spangenberg.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I did photography at school and went to UniSA and did visual arts,” he says.
“In first year they do foundation studies, so I tried glass and I knew it was going to be interesting and cool, and took the next elective. By the time I’d got to the point of majoring, photography was waning and glass was just totally addictive.”
Despite the slim opportunities available, Drew persevered and applied for a traineeship through JamFactory, a staple in Adelaide’s art and creative scene. “It’s a competitive process,” he says. “I think in my year there were 15 people that applied and they took three, and that’s just for a two-year traineeship. You don’t technically graduate or anything, but I’ve got on my resume that I’m an associate of the JamFactory and it holds weight in that manner.”
Having now worked in glass blowing for six years, the 25-year-old hopes to grow his glassware brand, where he creates beautiful and colourful bespoke pieces.
He also wants to continue working alongside other young artists. “I don’t think I would ever have my own hot shop just because the expenses are so ridiculous and we’ve got a place like the JamFactory here, which we’re so lucky to have,” Drew says. “You get international artists come over and go ‘wow, you guys are really lucky’. It’s a really tight-knit community.”