Design Hunter Q + A: Oliver MacLatchy of Wood Melbourne
With the launch of Wood Melbourne earlier this year and a showroom opening in two weeks time, Oliver MacLatchy is in a local designer and maker we'll be keeping an eye on. We ask him a few questions to find out what makes him tick - aside from timber.
Name: Oliver MacLatchy
Where are you from/live? I grew up in Fitzroy and I still love it. My parents are English and I’ve lived there on and off but Melbourne is definitely home. I live in Brunswick now and I love that too.
What do you do? I’m the designer and maker of all things timber at Wood Melbourne.
When did you first know you wanted to be a designer?
I actually got accepted into study furniture design at RMIT when I finished high school but ended up working as a handyman for my dad and moved into carpentry and loved it. But I always worked on small, residential projects and had to come up with creative ways to make things work and I think that always fed my interest in designing objects in timber. So it feels like I’ve come full circle now.
Your latest project:
I launched the first range of products at Wood Melbourne earlier this year, two timber bath spout designs. It has been really exciting and enjoyable allowing myself some time to focus on developing my ideas into a refined physical form. Wood Melbourne has evolved to include a timber–clad shower head and timber taps (in two hardware finishes, brass and chrome) and I’ve been really motivated by the response to these pieces which has let me to develop a concrete range of basins, taps, spouts and shower heads which officially launch later this month.
Where you find inspiration:
I love timber and find it so beautiful in everyday uses but also have a really strong appreciation of the functionality of it. Timber can do so much! When I think about how to solve a build or design issue, my mind always turns to timber for functionality and then I think about how good it’ll look having things made out of timber and go from there. So yeah, timber is very inspiring!
When I travel I tend to be drawn to looking at how everyday building is done in different ways and for a long time afterwards I find that inspires me – I think about how those things might’ve been achieved and then I’ll want to give it a go in my own setting.
Three people that inspire/excite you:
1) Geoffrey Bawa: I love his use of raw materials in really polished settings. I worked on some small builds in Sri Lanka and was blown away by the spaces he’d designed, they’re luxurious but you feel comfortable in them at the same time. To me it seems like he has a straight-forward approach with the materials that he uses and that really appeals to me.
2) Oliver Percovich: this guy started a skate school in Afghanistan! Seriously inspiring stuff – he’s using skateboarding as a tool to provide education to kids. Check out skateistan.org for some truly amazing and uplifting stories.
3) My dad – Douglas MacLatchy. Dad is always driven to bringing big pictures into reality, when it comes to building design. He’s really creative and has never been afraid of trying something new. Dad did a lot of early warehouse conversions around Fitzroy and inner Melbourne and that’s what I grew up with. This has been a big influence on my design taste.
What is your favourite…
Decorative product: Last year I bought a Fred Fowler painting, which hangs in my lounge room. It’s absolutely amazing.
Functional product: This week, the wood heater in my workshop has been very popular!
Handmade good: I have a personalised drawing book from Bookbinders By Design, it’s clothbound and the paper is awesome to draw on.
Residential space: 84 Moor St Fitzroy – I think it’s a gallery now though. I lived there as a kid and have good memories – there were two parts of the house separated by a spa. Ah, the ‘80s!
Commercial space: I was lucky enough to do a bit of work on the PDI building at Melbourne Uni, it’s a really cool space. Nice use of plywood.
Item in your studio: I love my drop-saw.
Time of day to work/play: Early morning. I’m definitely a morning person.
Meal: Baked kangaroo curry
Restaurant: Rumi, East Brunswick
Bar: The Lomond
Piece of technology: My phone, it is very handy!
Historical figure: Bill Hicks
Fictional character: Mr Incredible
Virtue: Getting things done
What does the term ‘Design Hunter’ mean to you? It’s being able to see beauty in simplicity; for me, simple functioning things are beautiful.
Wood Melbourne opens their showroom on Saturday 30th August 11am – 4pm. Address: 146 Melville Road, West Brunswick, 3055, VIC.
Alongside the opening, Wood Melbourne will launch the new concrete range – comprising a spout, taps, shower head and vanity basin.