In The Showroom With — Otis Studio

Focusing on craft and its artistry, our Nodi showroom is incorporating works from local makers to sit alongside our textural offerings.

The first to enter our roster is self-taught wood maker Jack of Otis Studio — an umbrella name to encompass his independent design practice 'exploring the coalescence of design and daily objects of use'.
Currently working in product design at Simon James, we spoke to Jack about his latest works, including stands, bud vases, a lamp, and a beaded chair, made from native timbers in various shades, all of which are now on display at our Nodi showroom. 
In The Showroom With — Otis Studio
What are the fundamental design elements that steer your process?

I would consider much of my recent work to lean on a fairly minimal typology, not in the sense of thinking less about design decisions but choosing to do so in a way that’s favourable to the materiality and application. 

Hand-making all my pieces, the direction could incorporate a lot of curves and end up looking, for lack of a better word - crafty, but I prefer to steer towards something more deliberate. Straight lines and gentle, uniform curves are typically associated with machine made items (and would be easy to achieve), so to do these by hand presents more of a challenge than a finished object might suggest. I get enjoyment from chasing that form in the making process -  shaping a gentle arc from a weighty slab of wood until it no longer feels ‘off’. A lot of it stems from curiosity and not immediately thinking ahead to the final outcome, but instead looking at the blank in front of me and trying to work with it to get the most out of it. Constantly assessing proportions and learning in the process. 


What materials are you drawn to, and why?

Timber is a material I’m consistently fascinated by. The variation in grain and species is pretty cool, and how it can wear over time through use, and its general reaction to the environment. I like the idea of something getting better with time. Not necessarily still looking new, but lived with. A side table I designed recently is made from raw aluminium; I was wanting to explore this for similar reasons. By leaving the surface unfinished the surface will develop unique to its use. It could be a lazy approach to craft but it means the furniture must be honest; the integrity can’t be hidden.



"...the furniture must be honest; the integrity can’t be hidden."



What colours and textures do you like to live with?

I rent a flat with friends and my bedroom walls are yellow. It wouldn’t be my first pick, but it retains an intensity of warmth. Earthy tones are mainly present, I guess often in the form of wood and ceramics. I made something with walnut for the first time last year, and realised a subconscious trend with my possessions of similar tone had been developing some time prior - textiles, books, photographs. 




Can you tell us about the design decisions found in your Abacus Chair?

Stepping away from items made on a lathe, I am still very much directed by my evolving skill set and what I have access to. This chair was the result of multiple things I was wanting to try out so I did them at the same time. I had been curious about weaving with paper cord so it started from there. The design and construction method always need to be considered in tandem, and I knew I could still use the lathe to help with some joins - turning pins on the ends of the square rails. It might not be the proper way to make a chair but it's what I could figure best at the time. 



How do you like to connect with nature in your downtime? 

The amount of things I still haven't explored in this country overwhelms me but I will always prioritise time to play in the sea. We're very fortunate in NZ to never be too far away from a coast at any given time.


See more from Otis Studio here.