Stab Magazine | Modern Craftsmen – Steve Gourlay
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Modern Craftsmen – Steve Gourlay

From Stab issue 61. Words by Derek Rielly. If you’ve ever kicked your way around a skate park, you’ll know Steve Gourlay as some kind of icon. As a teenager, Steve was an aspiring pro whose kink was vert but who ripped his ankle apart at a training camp and who then turned to photography. In the process, […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

From Stab issue 61. Words by Derek Rielly.

If you’ve ever kicked your way around a skate park, you’ll know Steve Gourlay as some kind of icon. As a teenager, Steve was an aspiring pro whose kink was vert but who ripped his ankle apart at a training camp and who then turned to photography. In the process, Steve documented the best of Australian skateboarding in its pivotal growth through the nineties and 2000’s and with the deftest of artistic touches (Hasselblads! Perfect composition!).

Now, it’s the furniture company Steve has created with his gal Anoushka, Thomo & Coach, that is turning on the Melbourne-based artisan. For Steve, who builds, while his gal works on the styling and design alongside, the quality of the build and the integrity of the design is everything.

“Craftsmanship can come in various forms, but to us it’s the passion behind what you produce. Without that, Thomo & Coach wouldn’t even exist. We love wrangling with different materials and designs, trying to understand the material we’re working with so we can use it in the best possible way. It’s a never-ending learning curve. I’ve designed and built skate ramps throughout my life including Globe World Cup courses at Rod Laver Arena and, believe me, you know about it if you don’t get it right, especially on a large scale. All these experiences push you to realise there are no shortcuts.”

The importance of beauty? “Beauty for us is in the detail. Not just the aesthetics but the combination of how the piece functions, looks and feels.”

Can Steve describe what it feels like to build furniture with his hands? Is it a joyous experience? Is it physical? Delicate? “When I’m in the workshop making the piece I feel a kind of contentment. I get to switch off from being a photographer and do something equally creative, yet which is very tangible. I love the feel of using timber. There can be highs and lows like anything and immense frustration when something doesn’t quite work out, especially working with materials which are essentially one-offs. There isn’t much room for error.”

And, his feeling towards mass-production and the loss of quality to meet a price point? “Okay, in one way you could argue it’s great, that good-looking furniture can still be accessible to everyone. But, at the end of the day, you see all these same pieces of low-cost, low-quality furniture in hard rubbish on the street and no one cares. It’s made of materials which can’t be easily re-used or refashioned and reflects the wastefulness of our culture where even furniture is disposable. This has definitely inspired us to do things differently. We talk to our clients about the ‘after-life’ or alternate uses of commissioned pieces and consider that in the design. We’ve developed a range of crates and accessories to extend the life of some of the ‘mass-produced-furniture-pieces-we-all-own’, to avoid seeing them made redundant.”

FOR THOSE MODERN CRAFTSMEN IN OUR WORLD, JUMP OVER HERE AND MAKE YOUR WORK KNOWN. WE’D LOVE TO SEE IT. AND, YOU COULD WIN $100k.

 

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