Organic Design

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Christian Timbs, Dining Table with Laminated Legs, Outeniqua yellowwood.

Many years ago Christian Timbs completed a degree in furniture design at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) having  studied with woodworking luminaries such as John Smith and Kevin Perkins.

The degree course was wonderful Christian said, however at the end he felt himself to be largely untrained in traditional furniture making techniques. Nowadays Christian regards this as an advantage because it has freed him to pursue unorthodox constructions such as for the table he made for Treecycle, an exhibition that would celebrate both the bicentennial of the Gardens and the trees themselves.

Christian was one of 45 makers who were invited to select wood that had been salvaged from the RBGS to make a piece for Treecycle. ‘I picked up a load of African yellowwood, from what I can only assume to have been a good sized tree. It had some great grain patterns and beautiful colour ranging from buttery yellows to soft browns. This tree was felled because it was shot through with black fungus, which gave it some coffee-dark stains.


‘Inspiration for the table I made came, as it often does, from the timber itself. I wanted to preserve the live edges of the slabs and highlight the unique grain, but also introduce clean, modern lines into the piece. My solution was to clean up the live edges and join them together to form the top, separated by a few thin strips of the same timber to keep the joints tight and crisp.


‘I also wanted the organic, flowing lines of the live slab edges to be incorporated into the structural elements of the table. Where a traditional table would normally rely on a rail or apron to add rigidity to the top and provide a surface to anchor the legs, I laminated thin sections of yellowwood to follow the natural curves of the timber and turned them down at each corner to flow into strong, clearly defined but organically shaped legs. The top features inlays of the same strips in a pattern that echoes the underside, bringing the design together.’


‘It took a huge amount of experimentation to get the design of the structural elements to work together to my liking, and the glue-ups of the laminations proved the old saying that you can’t have too many clamps. After burning the midnight oil for a few days before the exhibition opened it was a rush to see the yellowwood back in the botanical gardens, surrounded by the amazing work of so many other craftspeople. It has now gone to its new home, and I hope the new owners enjoy using it as much as I enjoyed the journey of making it.’


Christian’s table proved to be an incredible blend of structural and decorative elements which resulted in a steady stream of people stopping to crouch and peer underneath it.

Photos: Stephen Reinhardt

Christian Timbs is based in Sydney. As well as making furniture Christian is proprietor of and

The December issue of Australian Wood Review contains a feature on Treecycle 2016, an exhibition of work made from timber salvaged from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

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