Nestled in the regional Victorian town of Ballarat is an up and coming manufacturer whose inspiration stems from his passion for timber, design and his desire to see his client’s vision come to fruition.
Furnishing International spoke to Chris Shaw, owner and head furniture designer at The Brae Furniture Workshop to discuss the brand’s ethos regarding local manufacturing and their approach to assisting clients in crafting furniture pieces that can be cherished for a lifetime.
Words: Catherine Falalis
“What struck me is the embedded appreciation of woodwork and craftsmanship in the culture there,” says Chris.
“I observed and learnt from skilled craftspeople and it definitely contributed to my passion for timber and bespoke furniture. Working with local timbers and on pieces suited to the context of British homes and seasons really broadened my horizons and skillset.”
Chris says he’s always had a passion for timber and handcrafted objects so committing to a career in this industry was a lifelong dream. His ethos and approach have evolved greatly since he first began studying Furniture Design & Technology at RMIT. Working for other designers and makers after his studies in order to gain more experience was a ‘natural progression’ to the evolution of his workmanship and his processes.
“It is my aim to create thoughtful pieces that are inspired by the vision and style of my clients while also reflecting my own passion for timber and design,” explains Chris.
“I see the finished product as an extension of a client, their home and their aesthetic, so in the briefing stage establishing an expectation and seeing photos of their space is integral. From sketches, to sourcing timber and seeing the final piece, I am invested in ensuring the result is a treasured lifelong possession.”
“Creating a truly bespoke piece by choosing how the grain will orientate in each section and planning how the elements will exist in the finished product is, to me, the true beauty of handmade furniture,” he says.
And on the topic of materials, Chris describes working with the natural beauty of Australian timbers on a daily basis as an absolute privilege, whilst also enjoying working with recycled timber.
“I enjoy the opportunity to work with recycled timber if the client expresses interest in this as a material. Looking into the history of where the timber came from helps form a narrative for the client and giving the timber a second life is something that I receive a lot of satisfaction from.”
“I think there is an increasing understanding in the community of how important it is to support local design and manufacturing. The benefits of this support go beyond backing the sheer talent of Australian designers and makers, and ensures investing in furniture for life,” he says.