With her partner’s birthday looming, Jules Stenton set out to find a gift with a personal touch. Cue Handkrafted and an epic journey with Second Origin’s Anthony Byrne, to create a bespoke item for their Northern Beaches home. Second Origin is a Sydney based furniture company with a desire to create simple, elegant designs from recycled timber stock. James spoke with Jules and Anthony to illustrate the process of having an item tailor-made through Handkrafted.
Commissioning a custom piece of furniture may be a foreign experience to many, but hidden behind the facade of mass produced goods lies a stir pot of skilled craftspeople eager to help you pursue your own creative vision. Handkrafted was established to bridge this gap in the market, favouring the tried and tested hammer and nail, over cheaper and quicker modes of production. By connecting you to a community of experts, we hope to support traditional and sustainable practices, facilitating a lasting memory of a collaborative journey and a final product that is unique to your home.
So how does it all work?
From the initial brief to a ninja-style delivery, we revisited an old client to reveal the answer to this very question.
Having worked in the creative industries, Jules Stenton acknowledges the value of supporting Australian artisans who have time-honoured skills in the furniture trade. ‘My partners birthday was coming up and I wanted to get him something unique and memorable. We’d been talking about installing either a nautical themed door or some form of breakfast bar on our front balcony, and I thought I’d look into getting one of the two custom-made. I had no idea where to look for someone that could make this possible, so I did a bit of a Google search and up popped Handkrafted. The site looked great, I sent through a brief, and the rest is history.’
‘I really liked the philosophy of Handkrafted from the get go. It was much simpler than I expected and took the process of looking someone up in a phonebook completely out of the picture.’
Described in Smith Journal as somewhat resemblant of Tinder for the carpentry realm, Handkrafted hooks up it’s clients with the craftspeople which best match their proposal. In Jules’ case, Second Origin emerged as the perfect fit. ‘I was sent a few different options but Second Origin were the first ones to get back to me with some quotes and ideas. Anthony was fantastic. He went above and beyond and sent me a bunch of questions and information which was really reassuring. He was super professional and we shared a similar aesthetic, so I was quick to accept his offer and get stuck into bringing the project to life,’ Jules explained.
Founded by ex-lawyer Anthony Bryne in 2010, Second Origin is aimed at creating beautiful, affordable furniture whilst making a positive contribution to the environment. For each item sold at the joinery, fifty trees are planted in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest through an initiative with the Nature Conservancy. ‘My affiliation for timber was established early on. I grew up in a rural area so there was pretty much nothing to do but make things or destroy things,’ Anthony recalled. ‘My father, brother and I would constantly build bits and pieces out in our shed and after many years working in human rights law I have returned to my roots to run my own furniture business,’ he continued.
From a design standpoint, the Second Origin aesthetic could be described as simple, sleek and material driven. ‘The timbers we use are usually between fifty to one hundred years old, and as a result of ageing they have a beautiful grain, texture and patina that is exclusive to Australia. We don’t go for a distressed look, we keep things restrained and let the timber speak for itself. Our goal isn’t to win awards for design. Instead we strive to create minimal, elegant and timeless designs that aren’t going to be a fad,’ Anthony expressed.
‘From deconstructed bridges in far north Queensland to old warehouses and woodsheds, our clients can engage with the story attached to their furniture.’
The story behind Jules’ breakfast bar and bench is a testament to the quality of Second Origin’s service. ‘Anthony was amazing,’ Jules remarked. ‘From start to finish the process was very simple and customer friendly. My initial brief proved to be too complicated and I worked closely with Second Origin to overcome those boundaries and get exactly what I wanted. Anthony visited my house to measure out the space and soon enough he sent through some sketches of what the piece might look like. We communicated a lot and it was awesome to engage in the piece’s production. Handkrafted is a really rewarding way to shop for furniture and I have recommended it to all my friends.’
Fast forward one week and Second Origin had worked their magic to tailor-make and deliver the piece on time. ‘I had so much trust in Anthony at that stage, I gave him the keys to my house so that he could install it in stealth, as a birthday surprise. I took my partner out for lunch and when we returned it was all set up and beautifully presented. My partner was in shock and the final product was absolutely incredible,’ Jules emoted. ‘It looks so natural and fits perfectly in a narrow space on our balcony that was once dead space. Now we feel like have a whole new room in our house and we use it everyday the sun’s out.’
‘The result of my Handkrafted commission completely exceeded my expectations. It’s not just something you can buy at a store, it’s a small piece of Sydney’s history unique to our own home and we will cherish it forever.’
Made using recycled hardwoods from the Old Randwick Racecourse, Jules’ breakfast bar and bench balance perfectly with their coastal surroundings. ‘I wanted something simple and a little bit rustic and that’s exactly the look I got. I sent Anthony a bunch of images as a guide to the sort of style we were after and he kept me in the loop throughout its construction,’ she reflected. This collaborative process is one of many benefits to having furniture tailor-made. ‘Depending on the client’s level of interest, we like to let them be as involved as they feel like,’ Anthony commented. ‘The narrative of their item doesn’t start once it’s installed, it starts with a very old piece of timber and they can see that.’
This is the beauty of Handkrafted. To quote Jules, ‘Handkrafted is an epic story and experience. It’s a centralised space where there is a catalogue of wonderful designers you know someone is vouching for. It’s a genius idea.’ Handkrafted is more than a platform for artisan-matchmaking, we foster a journey amongst our clientele and promote the human side of products. Unlike Tinder there are no unexpected surprises when you meet your match, and we look forward to sharing more of our customer stories in the coming months.