Surrounding ones self in a tranquil setting helps to relax the body, restore the mind and alleviate stress.
As such, creating a personal sanctuary to retreat to within the home is a must!
Introducing organic elements such as plants and timber helps to create a healthy environment that balances and restores. The natural beauty of wood brings warmth and charm, while plants add life and help to purify the air. Together these magical finishes work in harmony to soften a space to create a sense of peace and calm.
We have discovered one company that successfully unites both finishes to create beautiful botanical installations for the home.
Made by Northwood create one-of-a-kind artworks made from re-claimed timber, sourced from salvage sites across Victoria. Their geometric designs can be combined with flourishing plant life to create beautiful botanical installations that are growing and constantly evolving.
We were so inspired by this unique concept we met with Emma Nasifa who is a botanist and the owner of Made by Northwood to find out more about her stunning creations.
How did you get into the business?
I was 14 when I told my parents I wanted to drop out of school and become a woodworker, to which they (sternly) encouraged me to finish my studies and “get a real job”. Having graduated from university as a Botanist, I was, throughout my studies, looking for a creative expression and tried my hand at a lot of different crafts. A few years after getting a “real job”, and subsequently quitting, my hands found their way back to timber and I’ve been making timber artworks ever since.
As a nature lover and qualified botanist, I am forever looking for an artistic way of installing plant life into homes and offices, and that has resulted in a new take on the “vertical garden” – incorporating plant life into artworks.
What can we expect when we come in store?
Made by Northwood is currently only available online – but in my studio you will find an abundance of greenery, the smell of freshly cut timber and a lot of half finished coffee cups!
Made by Northwood is a one-woman show and I hand make all our art works from reclaimed timber salvaged across Victoria. There are no templates or formulas, often I don’t yet know what I’ll be making that day until I’m standing in the studio.
A lot of my pieces are one-off commissions, and I think that’s the loveliest part of my business – being able to meet and talk with clients and create their own, unique artwork.
Tell us about your favourite products at the moment?
I’m really enjoying traditional American, Art-Deco inspired patterns and very subtle colour palettes. Similarly the bold, very nearly tribal patterns with striking lines and dark tones have made a feature in a lot of my pieces lately!
What makes your products special?
The use of solely reclaimed timber is something that I’m yet to really come across in the woodworking artist scene. I machine down all my own timber, meaning that much of it comes from the salvage yards pretty gnarly and stained or painted and I bring the timber back to it’s original beauty. Discovering the grain that’s under a lot of these old floorboards and lath is one of the rad things about my job.
What’s your favourite question from a customer?
I don’t really like talking about myself much, so I’m pretty good at deflecting conversation so I don’t have to answer too many questions! This interview has been challenging to say the least!
I always think it’s kind of amusing the disbelief that I get when I’m asked if I’m “really a woodworker”. Although I love meeting the older generation of woodworkers; from markets I sell at to exhibitions I display in. I love talking to them about the tools or methods they use, listening to the stories they have about their old businesses, or the best thing they ever made. Their encouragement of me in my craft is something that keeps me going.
What’s your favourite part of the work day?
Standing in the workshop covered in sawdust, splinters and wood stain and feeling accomplished with the pieces I’ve made that day. It can be emotionally draining being the creative, the business operator and the manufacturer, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love that I can see a bit of myself in all the pieces I put out there.
Second to that, would be coming home to my two four-legged buddies, sitting by the fire and answering emails, but that’s after work I guess. Those quiet moments are the ones that keep me grounded and recharged for the next day.
Who would you love to serve instore?
If I got to spend the day in the studio with anyone, I’d get Humphrey Bogart or Townes Van Zandt to sit around and tell me all their stories, all day. But present folk, I’d want to have a glass of wine with Jane Goodall or David Attenborough, I think they’d have a pearler or two to share.
What inspires you?
Nature. Always nature. In the rhythm of the ocean or the patterns through the trees, or the soft setting of the sun in the evenings and the silent moon’s fullness. I find inspiration in the smallest, tiniest moments of the day that often go by unnoticed, because I think when you stop paying attention to those moments you’ll lose yourself in the chaos that surrounds you.
Motivation I find in my family and my housemate, who, whenever I turn around and decide that maybe I should get a “real job” after all, remind me of exactly where I’ve come from and the hard work it’s taken to get here, plus how much of a gift it is to be able to express yourself in your craft and have other people appreciate it. I’m forever grateful for their unwavering support in everything I throw myself at.
Are you regularly updating your own home with products from the store?
My house is filled with a lot of my pieces, and perhaps way too many plants. I’m currently sitting at my own Folsom Table in my lounge room!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Every time I waver within myself, I remind myself of Thoreau and his endeavour to live truly;
"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth". – Henry David Thoreau
And while I think it may be easier said than done, if you can centre yourself with that notion every now and then, and be reminded to stay true to you and those around you, I think you’ll be successful in whatever you decide. Don’t let others’ expectations of you determine your journey, we all have our own path and sometimes that’s easily forgotten.