Dan Gillingham honed his skills designing furniture for manufacturing companies including innovative bed designs for Design Mobel. Keen to pursue his own path and bring to life his vision of creating unique, individually crafted furniture pieces that would stand the test of time, Dan launched The Earnest Workshop in August 2012.
Good things last is the philosophy than Dan lives and works by.
Every piece of furniture-art crafted at The Earnest Workshop carries this philosophy forward for generations to come. When it comes to furniture making, The Earnest Workshop embraces the importance of being earnest. Turning his back on a genre of easy-come, easy-go, founder Dan Gillingham looks to a bygone era, where a furniture maker was a craftsman, not a production line.
TEW furniture is something to be treasured, cherished and handed
down to subsequent generations; contemporary in style but ageless in quality.
Hand-made in New Zealand using time-honoured techniques, each piece tells its own story and has its own unique look, feel and personality; allowing it to become part of not just your home but also your heart. Sourcing the finest materials, TEW goes back to basics, taking the time to get to know the fabric, fibre and being of each new creation.
The result – pieces of art that will blend seamlessly into your life,
yet that will stand apart for their individuality.
MEET THE MAKERS
At the very heart of The Earnest Workshop are the Makers themselves. From those that craft the furniture, to the upholsterers that cut the cloth to the blacksmith that forges the steel, each individual brings a unique skill set to the mix. Every single person has been brought on board because they share the vision that The Earnest Workshop represents, and they understand the value of not being asked to compromise quality in order to hit a magic price point. They relish not being part of a production line, and they hold dear the same value system on which The Earnest Workshop was founded.
Because Dan does not believe in a ‘Jack of all trades’ mentality, with each new product there is a new requirement. The length and breadth of New Zealand is scoured in order to find the perfect match of maker to the creation, and once found Dan will work alongside them in their own workshops, step by step as prototype after prototype is formulated. The ultimate aim is to create a piece of furniture that not only has the greatest visual aesthetic, but one which will endure the rigors of heavy use. The advantage of working with someone that has dedicated themselves to their craft, is that with experience comes an intimate knowledge of the material with which they work, so whether it is being able to recognize the subtle difference of one wood grain species from another, or the ability to tell at a glance if an upholstery fabric will weather years of heavy use; it is these skills that define a true craftsman.
Over a career that has so far spanned 45 years Lyndsay has always approached his work with the philosophy that ‘there is always a way to make it’. His tenacity has proved invaluable to The Earnest Workshop team, and has helped make the impossible possible. A firm believer that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in his opinion beauty is nothing if the design cannot fulfill its requirements in quality manufacture, function and durability.
Lyndsay started work in 1959 in the moulding and casting industry as an apprentice Patternmaker; this involved hand-crafting 3D moulds out of wood.After 10 years he moved on to work in the pulp and paper manufacturing industry, before returning to Patternmaking where he worked for a further 15 years. During this time he channeled his excess creativity into his spare time, where he made everything from wooden framework for vintage cars, to the ships helm for the Spirit of NZ, trophies, wooden components for yachts – even recreating missing articles on antique furniture. With an avid interest in the concept of bringing something on paper to life, Lyndsay then moved into the sheet metal industry, where he developed techniques for creating 3D shapes out of sheet metal. The last 20 years have been dedicated to creativity and problem solving – designs are brought to fruition by Lindsay’s ability to build a prototype and develop a technique for the furniture design to be crafted.
Our love lives on…
At the Earnest Workshop the concept of sustainability is woven into the ethos that we work by. When we look back at the family heirlooms that we cherish, it seems crazy to accept that much of what is now produced is simply designed for the moment. Thus when developing the concept of a company that produces furniture for life, we were motivated in part by the ideal of moving away from the mass market and its emphasis on disposability. Pieces which are designed to satisfy the current trend rather than stand the test of time obviously must meet stringent price points, and this emphasis takes away any ability to care for the factors that we feel are so crucial. We love that a beautiful turn of the century French Mahogany cabinet symbolises the transition from one beautiful life form to another – and one that continues to live on for generations. It is with the same love and care that craftsmen historically chose their materials, that we select ours.
In sourcing all of our materials, we learn where they have come from and how they were made, or grown. In designing our products we are conscious of how much material needs to be used, and if that material is going to provide the longest possible life. We encourage initiatives such as our re-useable packaging to minimise waste and we are continually looking for ways to improve how we operate. We absolutely believe that our customers share our passion for longevity and sustainability and we know that our clients are looking for a deeper connection with the piece that they select than simply whether it will fit for now. They too care that we have minimal environmental impact, and they share the belief that while fashion is for a moment, style is forever, and the enjoyment of a lovingly crafted piece of furniture is ongoing.
SEE HOW WE WORK