JONATHAN WEST'S FURNITURE can be found in some of the most reputable cafes and restaurants about town. West is also regularly called upon to collaborate with designers, architects and builders for other interior design projects. Needless to say, his beautiful wood-based furniture speaks for itself. However, it is also Jonathan West’s world outside his St Peters workshop that gives you an insight into this charismatic creative!
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF & THE BUSINESS //
I’m originally from Orange in Central West NSW, however I’ve now called Sydney home for the past twenty years. I started my business four years ago having spent the prior ten working in different joinery and cabinet making workshops. Sydney can be a tough city to start a business in - there’s lots of competition and commercial leases are expensive so I started as a one-man operation, however as the projects I took on grew in both size and scale, it quite organically grew into our now team of four operating from my workshop in St Peters. We design and make furniture predominately in wood, however we also work with other raw materials such as steel, brass, copper and some textiles. As well as furniture, we also collaborate frequently with other designers, architects and builders producing joinery for different interior spaces. I get huge satisfaction from both these aspects of our work and find the collaboration a constant source of inspiration and excitement.
WHAT DOES A DAYS WORK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU //
I like to wake early - I never imagined myself as someone who’d say things like 'best part of the day'… but here I am. I love the peace and stillness of the morning, watching my garden slowly fill with soft light, coffee and calm, before my children wake and the sounds and busyness of the day takes over. I arrive at my workshop, via a five-minute bike ride, usually around seven thirty and depending on what we are working on, I’ll spend a few hours in my office on all the unromantic aspects of running a business. I usually make it to the workshop floor by midmorning where it might be helping the team glue up a large table, making components for a production run of stools or chairs, it might be prototyping a new design, welding a custom steel bracket, applying finish to a completed piece – it’s really a varied experience. I’m home by five, to the joy and rigors of having two young children. My wife Shauna also works with the business so the afternoons are mostly a juggle, dinner with the family and the cycle repeats!
HOW DOES SCENT EXIST IN YOUR WORK? CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THIS SCENT //
Scent is such a powerful sensory experience, and our workshop is alive with it! Good and bad, it’s many and varied - the smell of timber being the most obvious. It’s amazing how different the smell of timber species can be, from delicate and sweet rosewood to acrid American ash and everything in between. There is also the smell of different oils and finishes we use (some more pleasing than others) and then there’s the smell of chemical reactions. For example, if we a creating a custom patina on brass or copper, the smell of welding fumes, a dull blade not cutting well and burning in the wood… scent is everywhere in our workshop.
IS THERE A SCENT THAT REPRESENTS A SPECIFIC TIME & PLACE FOR YOU //
The smell/memory association is really quite amazing. When we moved into our current workshop in St Peters I was standing by our entrance closing the roller door for the day, and I’m still not sure what the smell is - maybe something about the mechanics or grease on the roller door - but the smell sends me straight back to being a child, perhaps five or six, standing by the door of the cool store on my grandparents orchard in Orange. The nostalgia and transportation of this memory is almost blinding.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT LIVING IN SYDNEY //
Like so many, the climate and the water are paramount in Sydney. The beaches are amazing. In a city so big, the fact you can still find a secret spot for a few hours if you’re willing to explore, is really wonderful - be it Centennial Park, a secluded spot on the harbour or in the Royal National Park. Aside from its climate and geography, Sydney is spoiled with great food and access to amazing seasonal produce.
DOES TRAVEL PLAY A LOT INTO YOUR WORK OR PERSONAL LIFE? AND IF SO, WHERE TO NEXT AND FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE //
Travel definitely plays an important part in the life of my family and I. My wife is Canadian so there is an annual trip home for her and I try to make it there every few years usually around Christmas time. Being such a long haul flight from Australia, we try and visit a few places while there, last trip included a few weeks in Mexico. The business is very demanding, often deadlines are tight and the days are long. To avoid getting burnt out, we’ve worked out short and frequent holidays are the key! We are spending a long weekend in Patonga in the next month, we try to get to Orange where my parents live a few times a year and we have an annual family holiday to Peregian Beach at the end of spring.
WHAT DOES YOUR WEEKEND LOOK LIKE AND WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN THAT VENUE //
Cornersmith in Marrickville and Annandale are a definite favourite. Their approach to food, seasonality and sustainability is amazing. Fleetwood Macchiato, my local coffee shop, plays a part in most weekends - awesome coffee and teas. I’m also totally addicted to their chipotle chill oil! Where we live in Newtown, there are so many great options for casual eating out. Cairo take away on Enmore road does the best falafel roll - that’s a big statement!
Moyas Juniper Lounge in Redfern does a damn good martini. Again, where we live in Newtown we’re spoiled for choice. Quite often, we will go to Newtown Social Club to see a band.
With kids, getting out on the weekend is a high priority. Beaches feature heavily, pretty much eight months of the year. Clovelly is a favourite with its Euro feeling concrete slab, or Gordons Bay on the rocks. I love Mahon Ocean Pool at Maroubra and Little Bay… there are too many options. My kids love Centennial Park by bike with all the places to hide and explore. The Art Gallery of NSW and the MCA always have something great on, not to mention any of the smaller amazing contemporary galleries.
Sydney is pretty spread out but I love that there are pockets scattered around with shopping gems. For me, most of the shopping I do is either for records or plants! Repressed Records and Halcyon Days in Newtown are awesome independent record shops that always have something that I need to add to the collection! Revolve Records hidden in Erskineville is great if you’ve got time to dig. Plant shopping locally at Newtown Garden Market or Butterfly Blooms near my workshop in St Peters are great. If I’m in the city, Kinokuniya in the Galleries Victoria is a must for books.
Brought to you by Luxe City Guides in collaboration with Lumira.