Ben Savage trades as Square Peg Home and is one of the community of makers and designers who share space at MANY 6160 in Fremantle, WA.
Up until the start of the year Ben and his wife had a retail space which offered imported and restored mid-century Danish furniture along with four or five of Ben’s own furniture lines. Taking up a workshop space in the MANY 6160 building was a response to a change in the retailing climate and has been a good move. Overheads are lower and Ben can now concentrate on making his own lines and get back to enjoying making furniture because, as he said, ‘you can get lost in the running of a business’.
As a former exploration geologist, Ben has no problem seeing ‘crossovers’ between the study of rock formations and being a woodworker. ‘For one thing I knew I didn’t want to sit behind a desk, so I’ve achieved that. With both jobs you’re working with natural materials, and both also require you to translate two dimensional information into three dimensions.’
What does he like most about his vocation? ‘Working for yourself is fantastic but it’s challenging and it’s hard to learn to switch it off. What I enjoy most at the end of the day is that you can see what you’ve done and where your labour and efforts have gone. There’s something real there, and to produce a nice piece of furniture that people will enjoy every day is a great motivation I think. You don’t do this to become a billionaire, you do it because you enjoy the process.’
Ben likes to work with a combination of solid and panel boards ‘…a little like the Danish went about it in the 60s because it’s very material efficient. Doing larger pieces in solid gets a bit cost prohibitive for most customers and you can get those sleek lines without frame and panel joinery because you’re not worrying about wood movement. (The Danes) did it for design purposes not for sustainability but I like the material efficiency. I use a lot of North American timbers because they come from sustainably managed forests.’
Ben is not into the salvaged, recycled look. ‘I guess I like clean lines’, he said. ‘It’s much harder to do less, than it is to decorate furniture, so if you have very clean lines every little detail becomes more obvious, especially proportion, so it has to be bang on. I don’t think it’s an easy option.’
The name Square Peg Home is a reference to woodworking joinery, and it’s obvious that Ben Savage fits very comfortably into the niche of custom furniture design and making.
For more information see squarepeghome.com.au