ucol furniture design school
'Spy Hopper' Drinks Cabinet
Furniture Artist: Stu Brown (Diploma Student Project: Year 2)
With a nod to his Welsh whaling ancestors, Stu Brown's fanciful ‘grog' cabinet delves deep into the imagination, brimming with subtle seafaring symbols.
Named for the quirky ‘spy hop' maneuver that a Southern Right Whale uses to pop its head out of the water for a look around, the nautical inspiration for this piece flows though every element of the design.
The cabinet's organic form was created from 36 pieces of solid matai joined using a coopering technique, and is encircled with inlaid whale silhouettes made from black swamp timber. Starkly contrasted cast aluminum harpoon legs and whale-tail handles are offset by a soft blue glow radiating from the hand-blown glass globe - etched with an outline of Aotearoa.
Some 40 pages of concept sketches and 180 hours of labour went into creating this masterwork - a showpiece for the designer's marine cabinet making skills and love of the deep.
'Moondance' Display Cabinet
Furniture Artist: Joshua Norris (Diploma Student Project: Year 2)
Elegant and contemporary, this superb piece by Joshua Norris took second place in the Pine Furniture section at the National Woodskills Festival held at Kawerau in 2009.
The competition is renowned as a prestigious test of skill and attracts many leading artists in the field. UCOL Fine Furniture students are regular attendees at the Festival, and as a student designer, Joshua was pitting his talents against many older and more experienced furniture makers.
Designed as a graceful keeper of keepsakes, the inspiration for this cabinet came from an item glimpsed in a book on bespoke furniture. Shaped from solid pine and plywood, blonded and lacquered, Joshua notes how much his designer-maker skills have developed under the School's tutelage:
"If you compare my original drawings and the final piece, they're strikingly similar"
'What lies within' Memento Cabinet
Furniture Artist: Mark Gilbert (Diploma Student Project: Year 2)
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bewitchingly named, this memory box designed by the artist for his wife invites you to delve a little deeper. Peeking out through the cabinetry doors are the red jarrah handles of the keepsake drawers within, alluding to the family treasures, tokens and mementos housed therein.
Formed from several varieties of locally-grown eucalypt timber, oiled and held aloft on a stand braced with four elegant curved supports resembling steel bridge spans, this piece won a Highly Commended placing at the 2009 Kawerau Woodskills Festival.
"My wife is patiently waiting to make use of her gift - it's been on show for so long and has another exhibition at Te Manawa Museum to attend before it returns to her!"
Furniture Artist: Richard Morris of RJM Furniture Design & Manufacture (Diploma Graduate in 2008)
A signature piece for ex dairy-farmer turned furniture maker Richard Morris, this striking table scooped first place in the 2008 National Woodskills Festival.
Delicate blonde tones of black poplar are interlaced with darker swamp rimu on the table surface, and in the sweeping curves of the steam-bent legs. Oiled and then lacquered, and braced with stainless steel, the tabletop appears to float above its curved base on stainless steel pins.
Despite viewers likening it to a coffin or nautical theme, Richard says the design simply arose from a sketchpad doodle shape he liked and then executed with finesse using local timbers. Finesse that earned him the coveted top award at the Woodskills Festival, and has since inspired him to set up his own business RJM Furniture Design in Whangamata.
Furniture Artist: Don Howden (Diploma Graduate in 2007)
With a desire to create a ‘fine piece' fit for a musician of style, past student Don Howden spent many hours sketching to develop the ‘exact look' he was looking for!
The result, a gracious eucalypt and swamp rimu music stand with curvaceous lines and slender brass finishings. Form and functionality were equally important in this piece, with timbers chosen for their durability and strength. It's proven to be a popular design, with Don selling a number of versions of this item from the Otaki-based fine furniture design business he established after graduating.