Meet the Judges: Maker of the Year 2021

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With six broad ranging categories, we’ve made sure that the judging panel for Maker of the Year 2021 presented by Carbatec has a matching set of qualifications and experience to draw on. No less than six pre-eminent makers, designers and educators will take up the challenge to determine category winners, as well as our overall Maker of the Year.

Entries close September 5, 2021 and judging will commence soon after. Shortlisted entries will be announced in our November 10 eNewsletter, sign up here if you're not receiving that. Award winners and selected entries will be featured in our December issue 113, subscribe now to receive that.

All entries are published on our website, just click on a category image to view them. You can also follow our Facebook and Instagram pages to see selected entries. Many of the faces below will be familiar to you, and you may also recall the stories they have written for Australian Wood Review.

Now it’s time to meet the judges!


Michael Fortune lives in Canada but travels throughout the world teaching, and has taught several workshops and courses in New Zealand and Australia. With some 40 years experience, Michael is a lauded designer and maker of furniture for private and corporate clients – his work is housed in collections and embassies all over the world. There’s not enough space to list his achievements and show his now classic designs, but there is room to note how his skills and generosity as a teacher and mentor is legendary. Read an example of that here. Michael is also famous for his jigmaking expertise and know-how and has written for AWR. He has appeared on the cover of Wood Review magazine, issues 79 and 105. 


David Haig is a New Zealand furniture designer and maker who is currently lead tutor at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson, NZ. He has taught at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine, USA and will teach at Sturt School for Wood, NSW in 2022. Born in Malaysia, David schooled in the UK and gained a degree in history at Oxford. Relocating to New Zealand, David and his wife Clare built their home and workshop in idyllic Cable Bay. David’s signature Monogram rocking chair won an award in AWR’s Studio Furniture 2008 competition, and ten years later his Folium 3 Chair took out the $10,000 main award for Studio Furniture 2018. Last year, David’s entry Rae’s box was judged Maker of the Year Bowls & Boxes category winner. ‘I have been making commissions and one-off pieces of furniture continuously for 37 years, and am as busy as I’ve ever been’, said David recently.


Melissa Ward is a registered architect, designer, maker and educator. Melissa graduated from Sturt School for Wood in 2000, and subsequently held the position of Artist in Residence at Sturt where she ran a series of lectures on design theory as well as workshops for the wood students. Melissa’s design career has encompassed working in both the public and private sectors, on projects as diverse as hospitals to wine bars. Since 2013, Melissa has run her own design practice located on the NSW Central Coast specialising in residential, hospitality and childcare projects. In addition to her architectural projects she devotes time in her studio to ceramics, and tutors in design and CAD software. In summarising her approach to design she says: ‘Whether you are designing a building or a piece of furniture, it’s important is to take time to consider the specific qualities of the material selected, and design to bring out the best of that material.’


Leslie Webb lives in Texas, USA and has been an independent furniture maker for the past 14 years. A graduate of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine, Leslie studied under David Upfill-Brown, Aled Lewis, Brian Boggs, and Thomas Hucker. She also spent a summer interning with Michael Fortune. Leslie has been juried into many distinguished shows, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, ICFF, and the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. Leslie was featured in Australian Wood Review, issue 105 – you can read about her design method and philosophy here.


Phoebe Everill is a professional designer maker based in central Victoria. ‘Working with wood has been a lifelong career for me as a third generation maker’ she said. ‘I graduated from Sturt School for Wood in 2011 and have been developing my practice from my Drummond workshop fulltime since then.’ Teaching and mentoring are a passion for Phoebe and she has taught at the Sturt School as well as having her own well established furniture making school in central Victoria. Phoebe spoke at AWR’s live event in 2017, and acted as a judge for AWR’s Student Awards in 2015. She describes her own style as influenced by Japanese and Shaker design, and ‘blending towards a clean, crisp aesthetic’. ‘For me’, says Phoebe, ‘the quality of the making should shine through a piece that is beautiful and functional in equal parts.’ Phoebe is an Accredited Member of Studio Woodworkers Australia and has written for AWR.


Simeon Dux is an award winning furniture designer maker from Melbourne, Australia. In 2020, Simeon was judged Wood Review's Overall Maker of the Year. He designs and makes bespoke pieces for discerning clients, and strives to incorporate classic furniture detailing into modern design. The current issue #111 of Australian Wood Review features his article ‘A New Take on Tradition’. Now also, as a teacher of numerous private students, and as an instructor at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking, Simeon continues to challenge himself and encourage aspiring woodworkers by sharing his knowledge and reaffirming skills and techniques.

Enter Maker of the Year awards presented by Carbatec at









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