10 Favourite Things: Craft work

Furniture maker Sam Orme-Gee shares a few of his favourite things.

Furniture designer Sam Orme-Geeshares some of his favourite things. Photo / Babiche Martens

Bespoke furniture maker and designer Sam Orme-Gee is part of a new generation of young local craftsmen creating goods with integrity - and their own hands. Working mainly with wood, the Auckland-based designer crafts discrete statement pieces: timber sideboards, easy chairs and clothing racks.

Orme-Gee has also collaborated with local furniture makers Workroom on the distinctive Weave chair, a handcrafted solid American ash chair with a woven seat (he works part-time in the Workroom workshop and store, Douglas and Bec).

Leather and eggshell blue canvas versions of the chair are also part of Kate Sylvester's line of furniture made with Workroom. He talks to us about some of his favourite things, from family portraits by his photographer mum to supporting local production.


1. Family portrait by Sara Orme

I've always hated having my photo taken. However, I'm thankful for this one. Taken by my talented ma, this photo contains two of my favourite "things": Lou dog, sometimes a pain, but who makes up for it by keeping me company while I am working, sitting happily among the sawdust, and my partner Zoe. This is going to sound mushy, but she is the greatest thing I have and is a constant source of love, support, inspiration and constructive criticism. She also keeps me on my toes and makes sure I am working hard.

2. Cabinetmakers' table

I'm not sure of the exact history of this table, all I know is that I could never use it in my workshop - it sits happily in our kitchen. One of the most thoughtful gifts I've been given, it tells a story beyond its cuts and scrapes. To me it represents the constant support and strength that I've been lucky enough to have been raised with.

3. Lie Nielsen block plane

My most versatile and handsome-looking tool. Zoe and my friend Tim conspired to get it from America for me for Christmas. I hope to hand it down to generations to come.

4. DS Stool by Douglas and Bec

One of their first pieces and it's still my favourite, even though [the designers] Doug and Bec continue to roll out incredible products. Simple, timeless, and always makes me say, "I wish I had thought of it."

5. My workshop

Full of dust, wood, tools and machinery, it's tiny, but I am inspired every time I'm there. One day I'll have a big workshop, but for the time being this is my haven.

6. Mark Braunias painting

My first "real" piece of art. "All men are equal, but some are more men" - 'nuff said.

7. Set square

This was my great-grandfather's, who was a carpenter. It was handed down to me by my grandfather Gary. The most-used tool in my shop.

8. Boston Celtics foam hand

I am a big time NBA fan (bordering on obsession), and the Celtics are my favourite team. When we were in New York, Zoe surprised me with a train trip to Boston and took us to a Celtics game. This is my souvenir from the best Christmas present ever.

9. Bob Dylan Great White Wonder

I'm lucky enough to own a copy of Great White Wonder, apparently the first bootleg record to be produced in the rock 'n' roll era. Either way it's filled with 1969 Bob Dylan goodness - a man of constant sorrow.

10. Friends and New Zealand business

I have to do a plug for my buddy Calvin who handmakes leather goods out of his studio in Ponsonby, under his label McTavish and Co. I myself don't own one of his bags yet, but my partner Zoe does. Also Arcade, run by the hard-working Joel Coombs, Mike Hall and others. It is a local skate store that serves as an outlet for Auckland's burgeoning creative community and youth. And Tim Laing, another furniture maker and ongoing collaborator. I wouldn't be where I am today without his badgering and the use of his mega workshop. Support local and handmade goods, please.

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