Meet the Maker

JD.Lee Furniture

JD.Lee Furniture

Jeremy Lee of JD.Lee Furniture creates sustainable, honest furniture. Prior to JD.Lee Furniture’s launch this week, Jeremy gave us an exclusive look at  his newest furniture brand, bound to be summer’s hottest. We also had the pleasure of snagging him for a chat before he becomes inundated with projects.

Since our first exclusive sneak peek at Handkrafted newcomer, JD.Lee Furniture, our team has not stopped swooning. Seriously. One glance at Jeremy’s thoughtful pieces, resonant philosophy, and stunning photography speaks volumes.

Sydney’s Northern Beaches’ newest furniture maker chants the mantra that we too sing here at Handkrafted. He focusses on utilising natural materials and sustainable practices in all of his works in an effort to ‘holistically support’ his clients in creating a one of a kind piece. By taking a holistic approach, JD.Lee Furniture assesses the life cycle of each product to implement a financially, spiritually, and environmentally viable approach. They’ve adopted the phrase ‘from forest to floor’ to describe this streamlined organic process. Each step from sourcing materials to recycling of worn products is carefully calculated to align with the environmental consciousness that JD.Lee Furniture preaches.

JD.Lee FurnitureJD.Lee Furniture not only churns out spectacular pieces of furniture. They also take an innovative and relevant approach with a demonstrated understanding of the needs of today’s consumers.

We could go on and on about how thrilled we are to offer JD.Lee Furniture’s work on Handkrafted. But, Jeremy took the time to tell us all about his new endeavour, so you might as well hear it from him…

Tell us about your background as a furniture maker. Why did you decide to quit your job and embark on this journey?

I spent a lot of my youth cutting up old shelves in mum’s garage and turning them into different shaped skateboards. Woodwork was always my favourite subject. After school, I spent some time travelling and building an appreciation for the lifestyle I want, while trying to provide for my family. Furniture making has been a natural progression for me. Doing what I love is a must! After completing my studies in industrial design, taking on an apprenticeship in the traditional art of furniture making just made sense. I have always had a number of sketch pads floating around, which I am constantly adding new ideas to.JD.Lee Furniture

This year has been full of change and new adventures, and with the support of my amazing wife and family, leaving my job and embarking on JD.Lee Furniture just felt like the right thing to do.

JDL 10You utilise sustainable practices and natural materials in your works. What do you hope people gain from buying ethically made products?

Sustainable practices and natural products is something that I have been passionately following since I first started my studies in industrial design. To me it just seems to be the normal approach to future development in all areas of design and manufacturing. My wife and I try hard to support local and ethically inspired businesses, from the products we buy to the weekly shop at our local organic markets. It is important for us to support other likeminded people as it is the lifestyle we are trying to create, too. We love having the opportunity to support others who are working hard to create options for purchasing products that encourage a sustainable future. We hope to offer the same.

JD.Lee FurnitureExplain your ‘furniture philosophy’.

Our philosophy is about having a holistic approach to each piece we make, from the design process to material selection, machining, finishing and intended use of the piece. We try to adopt processes like life cycle analysis and cradle-to-cradle design to help us make decisions that ensure minimal impact. We believe in buying less, so we design for durability. We are aware that life can be busy and regularly moving house is common, so we try to design for disassembly to ease this process, and further encourage the longevity of our furniture. Also, offering services at the end of our furniture’s life is all part of the holistic approach we are passionate about at JD.Lee Furniture.

JDL 8Who or what influences your style? How would you describe your aesthetic?

Wow, I would have to say everything is an influence for me. I love trawling the net, blogs, and Instagram for rad furniture and design. I am constantly inspired by other designers’ and makers’ work, and would have to say I think I have drawn inspiration from all of them. I absolutely love traditional Japanese joinery and am blown away from the complexity of the work that I see coming from makers over there.  I am keen on simple lines. I try hard not to overcomplicate my designs. Clean and simple is how I would describe my work.

JD.Lee FurnitureI love your maker’s mark. Who came up with it and what does it represent?

Thanks! My wife’s sister (Mia Taninaka) is an amazing artist and also an inspiration of mine. When I asked her to help make my logo, I told her what my process of design and making was about, and she came up with the hand and the line running through it. It represents the organic process of my design and making – a natural material that is hand crafted with love and transformed into beautiful furniture. That’s it.

JDL 7Which step of the creative process do you most enjoy?

Honestly, some days all and some days none! For me, a lot of my work is a practice in mindfulness. As all woodworkers know: a lot of concentration is needed to complete each process with the accuracy needed for furniture making. For me, on good days I tend to get lost in that process.

There is no greater feeling than admiring finished work.

Everything always starts as an idea – sometimes lots of sketches, sometimes detailed CAD drawing – but to see it completed, to touch it and see it in use brings me a lot of joy.

JDL 5What is the beauty of buying bespoke?

I love bespoke because it is unique. Designing and making one-off pieces for clients who are excited and passionate about the process is awesome. I love what I do and being able to share that with others is a great feeling.

JDL 4A lot of your pieces are sold flat pack. Why did you decide to go this route?

For me, this is part of my holistic approach to design and making. Meeting the needs of today’s lifestyle, I want people to hold onto their furniture. So much of the cheap, mass-produced, seasonally designed furniture’s life ends as victims to the all too common curb side clean-ups. And I suppose I get it. It’s hard to afford handmade furniture, and the cheap throwaway lifestyle is easy. It is so common to be moving regularly that transporting or even storing furniture that may not fit or suit the new living arrangements results in its obsolescence. By designing for disassembly where possible, I hope to be assisting in the longevity of our furniture, making it easier to transport and store when/if ever necessary, and easier to fit into today’s lifestyle.

JD.Lee FurnitureYou offer recycling of all your products, which I’ve never seen before. What motivated you to offer this option?

We are passionate about our holistic approach, and this is just another aspect of it. There are a few designers I follow that are offering these services, which I think is just great. The more designers that come up with ways to further encourage sustainable design, the more it encourages me and others to do the same.

JDL 3What about Handkrafted resonated with you?

I am passionate about community, and what Handkrafted has achieved is so great. The woodworking community is so friendly, and having a platform that connects the makers to makers, and clients to makers is really cool. That fact that Handkrafted also aims to educate its audience of makers’ processes, the time involved, and the importance of supporting local and sustainable materials is what most resonates with me.

JDL 6Describe your dream project.

Hmm… there are so many dream projects I hope to one day work on. One of the more regular ones is the idea of building a liveable tree house in a hinterland with ocean views. All custom timber joinery throughout and trying to incorporate as much of the natural setting into the design as possible.

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UPDATE: Jeremy from JD Lee now lives up in Mullumbimby (Byron Shire, Northern Rivers, NSW) and continues to make beautiful and sustainable furniture pieces by hand.

About Handkrafted:

Handkrafted is a community marketplace connecting people with passionate makers to commission custom goods. We have brought together hundreds of Australian independent, bespoke craftspeople and artisans who specialise in producing high quality, sustainably made pieces.

Our makers can help you realise your own idea or collaborate with you on a new design. Many also feature a range of original designs that can be made to order or customised to suit your specific needs. Whichever option you choose, we’re here to help make it happen. Support local makers and kick-start your own project today.  

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