Meet the Maker

Moving to SA boosted furniture designer Andrew Dominic's creativity

The UK-born designer tells us more about the beautiful wooden furniture he hand-crafts in Cape Town

15 April 2018 - 00:00 By Roberta Thatcher

Do you consider yourself a designer or a maker?
Both. A designer-maker. What I do is grounded in extensive experience in "making" to navigate new ideas. Often, a particularly simple making task has inspired a new design idea, then piece, then an entirely new range.
What was the first thing you made?
When I was about seven I was tinkering in my dad's workshop and made a tiny wee rowing dinghy boat about 10cm long.
You moved to South Africa from the UK. What prompted this move?
My wife, Susie, and I moved back here to start our family. It was a big beginning for us, the 2009 move - the start of my business, first house, and children!How has living here informed your work?
Having no personal attachment - life-history wise - and being surrounded by generous, beautiful land and seascapes has helped me to grow in my creative working path. The lack of strong traditional influences that you have in parts of the UK has also helped to think new and experiment.
You mainly work with wood. What types of wood inspire you and why?
The nature of solid Birch is super plain, calm and clean so I like to use it for simple bedroom pieces. Walnut's bold and wild grain is always a winning show-stopper, especially for an ordinary table-top shape. I like to use bolder, more characterful timbers on simple forms, and plain, quieter timbers on bolder characterful designs, otherwise both are lost together.
GALLERY | A selection of wooden furniture hand-crafted by Andrew DominicWhat's been the biggest influence on furniture design in the past five years?
In South Africa, I'd say CNC machines and software; it transports the "possible" to another realm while shifting the skill from hands-on making to programming.
Is there any downside to the shift in technology?
Trying not to sound like too much of a Luddite, there's a kind of sad unhuman side to it that goes along with all forms of skilled manual work eventually being replaced by automated machines. I don't think the end consumer is too concerned though. It's progress - desirable for business and large-scale production.
What does doing what you do mean to you?
It's my path, my passion, my work, source of challenges, headaches and triumphs. It can also be a little too all-consuming, as many forms of work can be but I enjoy the creative freedom I have.
How does it make you feel, seeing your name on a finished product?
Content and fulfilled.
What are your design goals for the future?
We'd like to achieve more export.The worst furniture trend ever?
Anything that shows chunky oversized excessive use of timber.
What's been your biggest lesson from a business perspective?
Hmm, try to take more days off, but I still don't ...
What's been your biggest lesson as a designer?
Never run out of fresh coffee.
What informs your designs?
Natural shapes, random thoughts, observations in everyday life, and occasionally rum ... only kidding!..

There’s never been a more important time to support independent media.

From World War 1 to present-day cosmopolitan South Africa and beyond, the Sunday Times has been a pillar in covering the stories that matter to you.

For just R80 you can become a premium member (digital access) and support a publication that has played an important political and social role in South Africa for over a century of Sundays. You can cancel anytime.

Already subscribed? Sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.