Lo­cal crafts

A NEW ERA OF CRAFTS­MEN

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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.”

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