An architect by trade, John Nott has been designing with timber since the 70’s. John has been behind some significant designs in Canberra such as the Telstra Tower revolving restaurant, Rydges Hotel (formally The Pavillion) and the Rex Hotel to name a few. He joined the Hammer crew last year in our Sales and Design team and is happiest when he has a pen or pencil in hand!
Tell us what you love about timber…
Timber is timeless. It is an essential component of construction, architectural detail and furniture. History reflects a continuing use of timber, and in Australia we have embraced the fantastic varieties of Australian timber since European settlement. It is also important that we remember the versatility of timber used in our indigenous culture.
Timber is personal. Throughout my life, I have been surrounded and therefore influenced by timber. When I think back, being brought up in country Victoria timber was ever present. The intricate cypress pine 12 foot high ceilings in our home, the weatherboard homes and shops, timber bridges, shearing sheds and drays and farm carts were always there, subtly influencing my love of timber.
What are you most proud of making?
The first timber piece I ever made was a timber paint box for my artist mother’s oil paints, watercolours and brushes. It was rustic (I was 9, and had still to develop fine joinery skills!) and Mum kept and used it all her life.
My proud moment in timber was the first table I made, in my second year of furniture making class. I was determined to make it really well and to last. I still have it at home and after 50 years it is still used on a daily basis!
Rustic or Clean Dressed (timber of course)?
Rustic! And that is not because my joinery skills are not as good as the guys in the workshop! Rustic finish reflects the handmade and personal touch to timbers, particularly those used in structures. Imagine the timber workers is a sawpit pushing and pulling a long pit saw to create a post, or the carpenter adzing a beam for a bridge. We have some amazing rustic structures in Australia, including the wharf at Echuca and the old Hume Highway bridge at Gundagai. We have many humble and robust timber bridges on country roads throughout Australia. Remember to keep an eye out the next time you are driving down a dirt road.
If you had to work with just one timber………
I love grey Ironbark– it’s rich colour when it freshly sawn and then how it develops a warm grey patina as it ages. I have used it extensively on refurbishing heritage buildings, cladding on new builds and substantial structures in public spaces. It looks beautiful whether made into a dining table or used as cladding on a farm building; it is timeless and extremely functional.
Downtime is best spent………..
Drawing. Architectural sketches and detail is what keeps me inspired. Wherever I am I draw; whether it is at a cafe while having a cappuccino, recording my visit to a country town or walking around Italy. Drawing is an escape, as well as a means to focus on the environment I happen to be in. It is a completely fresh way of answering ‘what am I looking at?’.
Best of all, drawing creates a visual record of the moment.
Recommend us your best source of inspiration
Dad. My father was a country doctor who had the gift of being able to draw in incredible detail. In addition, he made beautiful furniture as well as being to ‘fix’ anything. Dad would duck out between seeing patients to dress a piece of timber; apart from his suit being covered in sawdust you would never know!
Timber inspiration comes from those who are the quiet achievers, such as carpenters, cabinet makers and the bush carpenter who can make or fix just about anything in timber.
What do you love about your job?
Communication. Nothing beats the conversation that develops ideas into reality. I am privileged to be part of the team at Thor’s Hammer. It allows me to work using recycled timbers and sustainable practices with the makers to realise the customer's vision. Whether it be creating a dining table or using salvaged flooring or reinventing railway bridge beams into a robust pergola. Each day brings a new adventure in timber.