Thursday, 22 October 2015


Photography: Hilary Walker. @ hilarywalkerphotography

Using traditional joinery techniques Benjamin Baldwin
crafts furniture by hand with recycled materials giving
each piece it’s own individuality

Tell us a bit about your business?
I have a small workshop in Brunswick East where I make fine timber furniture using locally sourced recycled materials.

Tell us about yourself and your background?
I grew up in Melbourne and as a kid I always spent time drawing and building things. I studied industrial design and engineering at university and specialised in environmental and sustainable design.
When I finished, I wanted to get further involved in the environmental movement so I joined a Sea Shepherd ship and utilized my skills onboard. I began managing ships for them in 2008 and have worked there ever since. But in this time I never lost interest in design, so in 2012 I started building this business part time and it has grown from there.

What sparked you to create your business?
I was frustrated with seeing so many products being sold with little consideration for the environment, either because of their material choices, manufacturing processes or their ephemeral design. So I wanted to offer a real alternative to these unsustainable manufacturers.

What processes are involved in creating your pieces?
I only use locally sourced recycled timber, so usually there is a fair bit of preparation to do before it is ready to use. Once I have dimensioned the timber down to size with machinery I begin measuring and marking out for all the fine joinery.
I don’t use any fixings or screws in my furniture so most of the time that will involve very traditional framing joints like wedged mortise and tenons and lapped joints or dovetails for panel work.
This is where I move to using hand tools to fine tune all the details. I love getting all the components to fit perfectly before gluing up and applying the final coat of finish. The variations in timber densities and grain mean that each piece is a little different from the last, setting it apart from all the mass produced furniture commercially available.

What inspires you in your designs?
I am inspired by gradual change in my product design. Everything I produce has a purpose and I like to see the processes and forms evolve over time to fulfil that purpose more efficiently.

What do you love the most about having your own label?
I love having my own shop because it allows me to keep developing and refining my products in a positive direction.

“I am inspired by gradual change in my
product design. Everything I produce has a
purpose and I like to see the processes and
forms evolve over time to fulfil that purpose
more efficiently.”

Who are some of your favourite designers?
I have always been inspired by the furniture of the shaker communities from the 18th and 19th centuries in the US. Here furniture was made to be very practical and functional with minimal ornamentation. As a result, the furniture looks as good today as the day it was built.

What is your favourite item in your store right now and why?
My favourite item in store is my chair. This product has been slowly evolving over the past five years. It is practical, functional and will last a lifetime. I also love the processes involved with building it.

What has been your biggest highlight?
I have enjoyed the entire process of setting up the business. I love working with traditional hand tools and learning new joinery techniques.

What are your plans for the future?
In the coming months I will be introducing some new items to my line-up. Beyond that I am looking forward to continuing the slow evolution of my products in the years to come.

Photography: Hilary Walker


Love the blog? Join us on Instagram, click the icon below

No comments:

Post a Comment