The timber we choose to work with and why
We work with two timbers – Huon Pine and Tasmanian Celery Top – native conifers which are unique to Tasmania. They are both rare but not endangered species and their availability is limited to old stock, which is the bulk of what we currently use, and to timber which becomes available to a select few timber mills through a strict licensing system. In the case of Huon Pine this in generally from trees long felled or fallen, often found in treasured quantities, in remote rivers. The essential oil in Huon enables it to be preserved under water. They are slow growing and long living trees. Celery Top can obtain an age of 800 years and Huon Pine can live in excess of 2,000 years.
Huon Pine is a relic species and one of the planets oldest living organisms with a group of specimens found in a stand which, as a single organism, dates back 10,000 years. Because of its botanical importance and the remote location where it grows, along the rugged rivers of the west coast of Tasmania, the vast majority are now protected within world heritage areas. Huon Pine and Tasmanian Celery Top are both fine grained, pale in colour, silky smooth to touch but structurally very strong and durable. Celery Top is not a true pine – it does not have needles and is related to the Yew Tree. These unique Tasmanian timbers are wonderful to work with and age beautifully, developing a soft warm lustre over time. We feel that our designs - small handcrafted micro production pieces - are a perfect fit with these two special Tasmanian timbers.
How we approach the use of the timber
When we first opened our studio in the early 90’s our furniture and lighting pieces were produced with little or no irregularities in the timbers; however, we now recognise that beautiful timber is a rare commodity and irregularities in the colour, grain or markings of the timber add to the overall look and feel of the piece, reminding us that it is a natural material. In the production process we often need to laminate timber as very wide pieces are often not available or the whole width is not usable for whatever reason. Using laminated timber is something we have always done and we endeavour to do so in a way that is sympathetic to the design and aesthetic of the piece.
Tasmania, the environment and our work
For the twenty years our studio workshop was in North Melbourne we spent most of our holidays on the east coast of Tasmania. It is a magnificent location with incredible scenery. We have purpose built a studio workshop and without the overheads of operating in a large city based studio we are able to be much more considered in the way we approach the design and manufacturing process from an environmental perspective.
We have worked with a variety of materials and processes over the twenty plus years of our business – utilising metals, alloys, stone, plaster, resins, fabrics, foams and timber – a material we have explored with steam bending, moulding, laminating and turning just to name a few processes. Over time we have stopped using materials with poor environmental credentials either in their production, processing, transportation or disposal. We still use a small amount of steel, predominantly in hardware and lighting frames – and some fabrics such as cotton and linen but our work is now 95% timber. The timber we are now using is ‘local’ timber and as a result we are able to further reduce our carbon footprint. Additionally, we are now finishing our pieces with an oil/wax product which, when fully cured, is strong and durable. It’s a natural product and produces a soft, light natural finish. As a result of the way we design and manufacture our pieces our waste is minimal. Any timber waste is used in heating our home and studio workshop. We only purchase biodegradable materials and we re-use any material which comes from our suppliers.
We are a small studio and while we have chosen to concentrate on lighting and smaller pieces we continue to service our trade clientele in Australia (with the addition of a few select retail outlets) and are still well positioned to collaborate on project based work. We have recently commenced the process of having our products certified for the European market and we are promoting our work in international markets. Our output will always be small – not only because of our size, but because of the way we go about designing and producing our work. We see our designs as evolving, forming a part of a big jigsaw which is ever changing and is ultimately – our body of work. We aim to design and produce pieces which will have a long life in terms of design relevance as well as durability. The designs are simple and classic. Original and a little bit quirky. The products designed by Pierre and Charlotte are practical, beautifully crafted, original and environmentally responsible.