FOR LOVE OR MONEY.
After graduating from a well known Melbourne based University with a BA in Interior Design while ago, I got it into my head that I wanted to learn how to actually, physically build things! Shock horror but, positives aside, I felt that this was a badly neglected area of my 4 years spent at Uni in a course that equipped me with plenty of conceptual skills but not much by way of the practical. And so began a longstanding passion for furniture design and carpentry.
My first role, with a truly salt-of-the-earth artisan furniture maker, was the instigator of this passion. Arteventa, based in the back streets Melbourne's Prahran, was the kind of place that exuded a charm and honesty that only timber really can.
Working with a small team of ridiculously talented boys I learnt the ropes by way of the end process and discovered a talent for furniture finishing and the (almost) lost art of french polish. In nearly 3 years spent with this tiny yet powerful little company I experienced a business renaissance and when many friends were losing jobs left right and centre in architecture firms thanks to the dreaded GFC, the value of solid, well-built fit outs meant Arteventa forged a niche building commercial interiors at extremely high standards for some wonderful clients.
I left Arteventa for another passion and after a few years spent traipsing around Europe I returned to Australia and once again found myself drawn back into the world of furniture design. I dipped a toe into finishing again when my first bub was a few weeks old and then found myself on the marketing and retail side for another Melbourne based artisan a few months later.
El Lobo was far removed from my heady days at Arteventa - which were steeped in learning traditional techniques balanced against pioneering commercial design - being very new and green when I first came on board. There is something wonderfully exciting about working for a person or place that is full of promise and only at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.
Designer, Ceren, with a background in film production, brought a whole new mindset to her design methods that I found wholly liberating in a place like Melbourne where the design world can be decidedly trend-driven and repetitive at times. El Lobo gave me the space and freedom to surround myself with unique and considered designs from a passionate designer right a time when I was needing to reestablish my career goals in between having babies.
Sitting here writing this in retrospect, I realise that one of my foremost professional passions lies in furniture design and the nostalgic smell of resin and turps still gets my heart pumping. One day I will work a lathe again and stain the antique chair that sits as a rather ugly duckling under a mound of clothes in the corner of my bedroom, but for the moment I am focusing on the valuable lessons learned from years working for love rather than money and the journey of passion that working with furniture designers (and many other creatives) has unleashed.