Southland dad and furniture maker Darren Scott has making in the blood. Growing up doing renovating and building, teaching himself his trade, and supplementing his learning with some on-point courses, he now produces beautiful wooden furniture and homewares with a philosophy of sustainability.
What do you make?
I make dining tables, stools, coffee tables, chopping boards, beds, butchers’ blocks and bespoke kitchens and bathrooms. I will have a go at pretty much anything!
How did you get into your craft?
I got into it by initially needing a desk and chair when I was at university. Having little money and not liking the options around me, I made my own. The chair still lives with me now, the table started showing some signs of decay so I have retired that one, but this was twenty years ago. Things grew from there as I studied design at Otago University and I experimented more, I entered a competition and won ‘most original’. I then placed my first piece in a small boutique shop and my first commission grew from there.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I grew up renovating and working on building sites in the school holidays with my Dad. I travelled abroad and worked in the trades, painting, building and doing some agricultural engineering. I am mostly self taught in furniture making but I have completed a couple of fulfilling courses at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson.
I… only make things that I’m really satisfied with, ethically good, and representing the style and designs that I like.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favorite materials are the woods. The nicest to work with is Kahikatea (New Zealand White Pine), American Ash or American White Oak. The Kahikatea smells like honey when worked and the sustainably grown imported timbers are so straight and hard.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired to create pieces that will gracefully grow old, pieces that have a soul and speak that they are hand made. I look to add some detail that express this or some curves that lead the eye. I’m inspired by Scandinavian design and more recently the simplicity of Japanesse style.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My philosophy is to only make things that I’m really satisfied with, ethically good, and representing the style and designs that I like.
Describe your creative process:
My process can be very simple – sometimes it does not even make it to paper, or it is completed from a simple sketch.
Describe your workspace:
My workspace is a three bay shed on my property.
Five words that describe your mind:
Random, ordered, busy, energetic, dedicated.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
My daughter, said “Wow, it’s amazing!” when I recently made her and her sister a high bunk bed. It is hard to top that.
Recommend an album:
Zuvuya: Papatuanuku. An Invercargill/Dunedin band.
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I loved any of the books by Roald Dahl, I read James and the Giant Peach many times.
I’m inspired to create pieces that will gracefully grow old, pieces that have a soul and speak that they are hand made.
What are you reading now?
Just read a great book on mountaineering by Joe Simpson (of Touching The Void fame), about the highs and lows of extreme Alpine climbing.
Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
Not sure if I have a singular hero, but I have many designers that I have admired over the years like Alva Alto, Eileen Gray and Frank Llyod Wright. And of course Sir Edmond Hilary.
A favourite quote:
I kind of like “You can only eat the elephant one bit at a time.” It is a bit like “Every journey starts with a single step,” – both are particularly relevant for wood work.
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Set the goal to make what you really like.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
Sandblasted drinking glasses made from recycled wine bottles. I liked them because they fitted the re-use ethic and they had beautiful etched reliefs of NZ birds on them.
What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
Xmas is close so I’m keeping up my supplies of chopping boards and I have some commissioned furniture to complete before the New Year.