Tasmania grows some of the world’s most beautiful timbers – put it down to the clean air, the pure water and the good soil. Myrtle, Sassafras, Leatherwood, Blackwood, Huon Pine, Musk and Celery Top Pine are crafted into tables, beds, sideboards, benches, bread and cheese boards, as well as lamps, kitchen utensils and jewellery. Huon Pine is the oldest living tree on the continent and one of the oldest living organisms on the planet. It can take 1,000 years for a tree to fully mature, so owning something made from Huon Pine is like owning your own piece of history.
In Launceston, Design Tasmania is home to the iconic Wood Collection, a stunning range of contemporary wood design from some of Tasmania’s most respected designers including John Smith, Patrick Senior, Peter Costello and Kevin Perkins. This museum collection is unique in Australia, resulting in both national and international tours of the works including an exhibition at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. You can view the collection in the purpose built Design Tasmania complex, which also houses a commercial retail gallery selling furniture, tableware, kitchenware, homewares and jewellery.
Also in Launceston is 1842, a fine furniture workshop and exhibition space. Housed in one of Launceston’s oldest commercial buildings in the heart of the CBD, you can watch true craft practitioners at work as they hand make beautiful bespoke pieces using traditional techniques and tools.
If you are driving from Launceston to Hobart then it is worth coming down the rugged and spectacular West Coast. The landscape is extraordinary and you’ll have the chance to experience Tasmania’s timber and mining heritage. Strahan owes much of its existence to Huon Pine. The convict settlement at nearby Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour was established to harvest Huon Pine from the Gordon River, with the felled timber floated to Strahan to be milled. The distinctive, sweet smell of Huon Pine will greet you the moment you step foot inside Wilderness Woodworks Strahan. Made on site, you can pick up a range of smaller items including bowls, rolling pins and salt and pepper grinders that will fit snuggly in your case for you to take home.
In Hobart, visit Aspect Design in popular Salamanca Place, established in 1978. Aspect has works by over 100 Tasmanian craftspeople with ready to buy works or custom designed options available. Mitch is always up for a yarn and can tell you a lot about the works and the makers behind them. On the other side of Sullivan’s cove, opposite Aspect Design, is Henry Jones Design. Housed in the old Henry Jones IXL jam factory, Henry Jones Design has some exquisite large furniture pieces that really showcase our Tasmanian timbers. Can decide which piece to buy? Lucky for you Henry Jones Design also part of the COLLECT Art Purchase Scheme.
Less than 40 minutes from Hobart is the convict town of Richmond where you’ll find Saddler’s Court Gallery selling timber sculptures, boxes, bowls and tables alongside a range of other artforms. If you are in the market for high quality, custom made furniture then visit Brendan Sharpe in his studio and commission a unique piece designed to your specifications.
Article published: 8 December 2014
Design Tasmania Centre, Brisbane Street
Corner Cimitiere and St John Streets, Launceston 7250
12 The Esplanade, Strahan
31 Hunter Street, Hobart
48 Bridge Street, Richmond
51 Bridge Street, Richmond
21 Knobs Road, forest
120 St John St, Launceston