Q Can you tell us about Sawdust Bureau and what you make?
At Sawdust Bureau we handcraft limited-edition, individually numbered pieces of contemporary furniture in our Melbourne workshop. All our pieces feature local Australian timbers, combined with contrasting materials such as brass, concrete, leather or steel.
Our studio’s ethos is all about balancing modern maker technology whilst reviving ‘lost’ techniques from the past. Mass production isn’t really our style, we prefer to take a slower, more carefully considered approach to designing and making furniture.
Q How did you get into furniture making?
My background is in Architecture, but my Grandfather was an architect and furniture maker so perhaps it is just in the blood. I studied my Masters of Architecture at Melbourne University and was fortunate enough to be accepted onto their prestigious Timber Furniture Workshop programme – a semester-long intensive design, research and making studio. The knowledge learned through the studio about materials and detailing changed my entire approach to design.
Q Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Several of our clients have remarked that our work resembles scaled-down pieces of architecture with elements of musical instruments. Architectural design definitely plays a key role in form making and detailing our pieces, but we seek inspiration from many disciplines such as sculpture and graphic design. I guess you could boil our aesthetic down to a Japanese-Scandinavian hybrid with a distinctly Australian accent.
Q What’s your favourite timber to work with?
At Sawdust Bureau we proudly only use 100% Australian timbers in our pieces, so you won’t find any imported or endangered hardwoods topping our favourites list. We probably break rank with most local furniture makers on our choice, but we actually really enjoy the challenge of working with Ironbark. We find the various hues and tones of it really speak of the Australian landscape and it was an obvious choice for our collaborative ‘Ancestors’ series with renowned Indigenous artists, Sarrita and Tarisse King. It ranks as one of the hardest timbers in the world, therefore working with it results in a lot of blood, sweat and splinters, but we believe that the end result speaks for itself.
Q What’s your favourite part of what you do?
The age-old cliché about making something with your hands and turning rough sawn timber into a fine-finished piece is incredibly rewarding. We love working with open-minded clients and collaborating with other artists who push us to explore new boundaries of what is possible with furniture and contemporary design. In terms of isolating a favourite part of the process it would probably be the moment the colour and depth is revealed as the first coat of oil is applied to timber. It is pretty special and something we always savour.
To see more of Bryan Cush’s incredible creations, click here.