Spencer and Marie-Clare Parks are the pair behind Perth’s Maeker Studio. Working out of Many 6160, a collaborative production space in Fremantle, they construct modern heirlooms that people can enjoy for generations. James caught up with Spencer to hear about his quest to change the “disposable furniture” mentality.
Reclaimed wood. Quality craftsmanship. Timeless Scandinavian design. Mix it all together with love and care, simmer in the Perth heat and hey presto; you’ve got yourself a stunning Maeker creation!
I spoke with the man behind the brand to get a taste of his humble furniture journey.
Spencer’s story began in a shed. A tin shed in Broome to be precise, making kitchens for a cabinetry apprenticeship. ‘I always had an interest in woodworking and one year my wife Marie-Clare and I moved up North in the pursuit of something different.We loved the creative lifestyle and it was during this time the idea to craft furniture was born,’ he shared.
After a year in Broome, Spencer made the trek back to Perth to continue his training. ‘I found a job working at a massive firm of sixty or so cabinet makers. We were all crammed into a warehouse and you kind of got lost as a number within a production line which just didn’t appeal to me,’ Spencer expressed. ‘I was there for about three and a half years when my old boss Dave called me up and asked if I’d like a job at Raw Edge Furniture. I’d been craving some bespoke work and jumped at the opportunity. It was a blessing in disguise and he’s helped me set up my own venture.’
Fast track to an Instagram encounter with fellow Handkrafted maker A Good Looking Man and the pair were on a tour of the old Myer building and soon-to-be workshop. ‘We saw the Many 6160 space and immediately wanted in.’ Spencer exclaimed.’We’d been making bits and bobs for family and friends in our backyard and just thought; bugger it we’ll take the next step.’
A hub of creativity for the WA art scene, the Many 6160 production floor is home to a plethora of woodworkers, artists, metalworkers and even screen printers. Take Karl Young from Saltwood Designs for example, who creates one-off “beauties” from recycled timbers.
‘Filled with laughter, conversation and sawdust as far as the eye can see, it’s really inspiring to work amongst such a mixed bag of individuals,’ Spencer declared.’There’s such a wicked vibe and we’ve managed to give this old utilitarian space a bit of life again, which has been rewarding in itself.’
Background aside, Maeker Studio have carved out a name for themselves on Australia’s west coast. From neglected old patios to the remains of a 100 year old dam wall, Spencer and Marie-Clare build pieces from sustainable materials with a Scandinavian twist. ‘We really tip our cap to the clean lines and proportion of mid-century Danish furniture. Ever since it was released it has been a good look in the home, so we try to stick to that aesthetic,’ Spencer continued.
Great design should be a timeless thing, so we try to create items that will last forever. Rather than ending up in landfill, we hope our furniture will only maintain beauty and grow in character.
It is this philosophy which shone through as I interviewed Spencer. The notion that the best way to recycle is to construct things that people simply won’t throw away. Something worth saving that you can make memories with and pass on for generations. Design is often viewed as a cyclical facet of society, so why not strive to manifest that understanding in a more literal sense?
We really want the public to understand that “disposable furniture” is just going to be that. Throw away the allen key and forget flat-packs in favour of all things handmade.
‘Buy an heirloom, find designs you like and the sting of the price now will wear off long before the enjoyment of the piece,’ Spencer emoted. ‘This mentality shift will take time but Handkrafted might go a long way to help the process. Handkrafted is something that I think Australia really needed. It’s easy, accessible and I’ve found it really effective. We’ve had a few commissions come through now and hope we can continue to make clients happy in the years to come.’