Furniture for future generations
The fine craftsmanship of Ross Thompson Furniture formulates into modern and minimalist designs that can easily be the centrepiece of a room.
You can see that each design carries something unique – a certain heart and soul that maker Ross Thompson injects into his work; the design, smooth timber finish, to joinery techniques, colours and even the patterns in the grain.
The local furniture maker has gained much interest from his South Geelong workshop; he is as much artist as he is craftsman. But while he always knew he loved working with his hands, his path to furniture making was by no means straightforward.
Ross grew up in Ballarat where he spent time assisting his father on house renovations and car restorations, and exploring his love of music and the guitar.
Wanting to explore craftsmanship further, Ross began an apprenticeship in furniture and cabinet making, but left after two years feeling creatively unsatisfied.
“Once I got through my apprenticeship I found I wasn’t as fulfilled as I thought I might have been, and music has always been a great love of mine. So that was the point I changed paths,” he said.
Feeling lost, Ross took time off to backpack across the United States, hoping to find inspiration again. He visited music landmarks across the “Blues Highway”, going on a deep dive into traditional American blues and folk he was so drawn to.
Here, he rekindled his love of music, and came back to Victoria to study a Bachelor of Music and Performance Improvisation.
But towards the end of his music degree, Ross realised he missed the practicality of working with his hands and being outside.
“Being in a music degree demanded a lot of time to practise and being inside, and naturally that’s not part of my being.
“I had to reassess again what my career path would be.”
After finishing his degree, Ross went travelling in Europe where the ethos of Ross Thompson Furniture came to life.
“So, now I had the trade background of working with my hands for a couple years and was quite skilled in that area, but then I also had the background from my music degree that was quite artistic and creative,” he said.
“I was starting to realise what you could communicate through art and design, and music and creativity and expression.
“Europe solidified that there is a career path; that you can make those two traits come together through furniture design.
“It has a high practicality and it can also have a really high artistic merit.”
Returning home, the then 25-year-old moved to the Surf Coast and started his business with a newfound fervour.
Four years on, Ross’ vision for furniture design remains the same; making quality pieces that blend traditional craftsmanship and artistic design.
He designs and builds customised furniture to last, with a style inspired by both modern minimalism and the art nouveau heirlooms he admired during his time in Europe.
“I think a lot of people have lost what it is to have a piece of work that will last generations and it will never date; it’s always timeless work,” he said.
“If you look back through especially Art Deco, a lot of those works can translate back into the market today and they will not look out of place, so there’s a lot to be said of that, I think, in both material and design, that I try to reference in my style.
“It’s very much a blend of that traditionalism, in craftsmanship and design. But also updating things and slightly tweaking things to make it a bit more relevant to how we live our lives and how we interact and relate today.”
Ross’ pieces are made to become a part of his customers’ stories: a kitchen table for families to gather around, a chair to be passed down generations.
This depth of story is also reflected in his careful choice of materials. Ross uses a number of different types of timber and veneer in his work, from Australian blackwood, American walnut and oak to hydro wood sourced from beneath Lake Pieman in Tasmania.
His focus is sustainable, durable and artistic materials that will become a part of the story and contribute to the striking artistic style he is known for.
Reflecting on the next 10 years, Ross’s vision is humble but sure, to keep making quality furniture, and settle down on a block of land with a veggie patch.
“I don’t want anything too flash, I just want a comfortable time where I can spend half my time in the garden and half my time on furniture, that’s the ultimate goal, but I’ve got a bit of time before I get there, I think.”
Ross Thompson Furniture can be ordered or commissioned by contacting Ross at rossthompson.com.au.