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Welcome to My Design Alley. A design blog celebrating design in many forms - from interior spaces to new products, stores and interviews with designers both local and from around the world.

A Moment With | Nick McDonald

A Moment With | Nick McDonald

For Melbourne-based furniture designer and maker Nick McDonald, the love for all things design was sparked on a Scandinavian sabbatical. It was in Denmark he learnt about simplicity in craftsmanship and the wonder of the Scandinavian design aesthetic. His furniture company, Made by Morgen, gives a nod to Danish design, focusing on minimalism and simplicity. I caught up with Nick to find out more about his design journey and his proudest achievement so far.

Hi Nick, have you always been creative? Certainly not. I grew up on a cattle farm in South West Victoria, in a small town called Mortlake. Farm life wasn’t for me so I moved to the city and began working for a commercial building company which lasted 10 years. Initially I loved the industry, being faced with an array of challenges and testing my problem solving skills. I purchased an old warehouse apartment around 7 years ago and did the fit-out myself - building all the furniture. 

“It was then it dawned on me that I could mix both my practical and creative side.”
 The  Made by Morgen  American Oak Veneer Sideboard.

The Made by Morgen American Oak Veneer Sideboard.

I quit my job and moved to Europe, spending around a year floating between Denmark, Berlin and London working for an array of builders and furniture makers. My aim was to try and study furniture making and design in Denmark, but it turned out to be difficult. My little big break came about when a friend put me in contact with a Danish family who live in Ringkøbing, a small town on the West Coast. This town also happens to house a company named House of Finn Juhl, which held the reproduction rights to produce the Finn Juhl collection.

“I spent a few weeks as a fly on the wall and it was then I truly fell in love with danish design.”

Looking back, when did you first fall in love with design? It wasn't a specific time, it’s just something that developed. It took a long time for me to figure out what I wanted to do, once I started creating, I began researching methods of construction and through that process I came across a vast array of designs, makers and styles. 

“I knew what I liked so I developed my ideas into designs.”

What’s one theme you keep returning to in your designs? Minimal, clean uninterrupted pieces that have a lot of secrets which are only revealed upon closer inspection.

  Made by Morgen's  European Beech Dining Table.

Made by Morgen's European Beech Dining Table.

Your greatest passion? Music, furniture and community. 

“I feel it’s necessary to be able to connect to our surroundings.” 

I’m lucky to be based in an extremely creative pocket of Melbourne. I recently held a product launch party at my workshop - all the sponsors on the night were locally based and a fantastic support. It felt great to be able to reach out to local organisations who were extremely generous and supportive. The night was also a platform for exposure for a not for profit charity I work with, Road to Refuge, whose aim is to educate our youth about the issues refugees face with seeking asylum.

 The beautifully crafted American Oak Sideboard by  Made by Morgen .

The beautifully crafted American Oak Sideboard by Made by Morgen.

Where do you gather inspiration? A lot of different mediums - I read a lot of literature about design and other makers influence my work as well.

“I’ll see something I love, old or new, and instantly want to put my own signature on it.”

What’s your favourite medium to work with? Solid timber - we do a lot of custom work for architects and designers who specify a material we may have not used before - the challenge is to try and understand how the material may react over time and how to best work with it. 

Your proudest achievement? Being able to support myself would be the most satisfying achievement. Though it wasn't always easy - there were quite a few moments along the way where I questioned the decision.

“It was quite a risk to quit my old job and tell my mum I want to make furniture.” 

Can you describe your creative process? I'm terrible at drawing so I generally have an idea, and then have to actually make it. The details develop overtime - basically there's a lot of prototyping.

What's the most rewarding part of your job? Wearing jeans and a t-shirt to work and having my dog by my side.

Where did the name Made by Morgen come from? Morgen was the name given to me by my father when I was little and it just stuck.

 The  Made by Morgen  Table and Stools from the Shadow Line series.

The Made by Morgen Table and Stools from the Shadow Line series.

What are you loving at the moment? Melbourne Band RVG, Mankoushe - a restaurant run by two Lebanese brothers specialising in Middle Eastern cusine, S-Town the Podcast, Tom Robertson Architects and indoor plants

 Nick's home - an old factory in West Melbourne, encouraged him to make his own furniture.

Nick's home - an old factory in West Melbourne, encouraged him to make his own furniture.

What’s in store for you in 2017? It's an exciting year - I’ve just completed my first product range which will be released in 6-8 weeks.

Thank you Nick! | Made by Morgen @madebymorgen

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