Futurespace magazine had a chance to catch up with John Gabler Furniture at the weekend and discuss his work, and the juncture of fine furniture making and contemporary design that continues to showcase.
John Gabler is an established designer and maker of contemporary furniture of about 12 years. With a background in tech and a penchant for travel his journey to being a furniture maker was both a transition from living aboard out in the big landscape of the Colorado Rockies and a chance to use his hands to “make yourself different” with craft.
This led John to move to Tasmania for two years and to study for a degree at the University of Tasmania under the tutelage of master craftsman Neil Erasmus. Like other up and coming furniture brands and designer makers we have had the chance to know over the last two years, there is a strong foundation in arts and crafts. Almost against the culture of 90′s consumerism the strong ethic of being able to create a truly well made piece of furniture has now found itself in fashion.
We first became aware of John Gabler at Design Junction this September. There is a clear aesthetic emerging for hand-made British design. Designer-makers now have adopted a lifestyle choice to express themselves with craft but also there is an education and an awareness of modernity. John does this with the three pieces of furniture that we feature in the post.
This is not a retro or mimetic trend. There is a degree of difference and individuality. John’s design of the Pop’s chair is an example of the expression of crafting a very comfortable and well made chair but also with touches of contemporary elements such as the curves and the elongation of the design. The Pop’s chair has a sense of minimalism and engineering that does not feel dated. This a product of a well schooled designer maker and an original take on a classic lounge chair.
John is a member of the Northern Contemporary Furniture Makers. Now based in North Yorkshire, there is a sense of community and identity for a groups of fine furniture makers. This is maybe the old world, a world that predates the flat pack era and MDF and has a sense of elitism. However, John is active in this group to educate the community about hand-made crafted British furniture. This juncture of the design worlds of events like Design Junction and Makers is a positive one.
I cannot help but think that the process of commissioning bespoke furniture engages you not only at a more personal level in that you are envolved with the aesthetics of the design but also have a deeper connection to the process. John has created a Walnut chest of draws for a client where the draws are built on a subframe and do not touch the curves of the legs. The wine table sits at the perfect height to rest your glass without over reaching from your lounge chair. The design has also has curved legs that are minimalist but also functionally discreet.
One important aspect is the source of the materials. John used to work with Tasmanian black wood, native to Eastern Australia. Now based in Yorkshire the main source is oak. However one of his clients has timber from a beech tree felled from their own garden. This is another aspect to the deeper connection to the process. Flash factories at Design Shows and designer-makers like John Gabler are moving towards a new juncture and furniture now has a new moment to be established.