Good design is in the detail, and it’s here that Oliver MacLatchy of Wood Melbourne focuses his attention. With a diverse and varied career in building, timber design and, more recently, tapware and bathroom design, he brings a wealth of knowledge about materials and their manipulation to everything he creates.
Fiona Killackey spoke with Oliver about his love of travel, living in a former tattoo shop, and his latest range for Wood Melbourne.
Taps. We use them every day, but it’s only when they have been brought to life by a true craftsman that they’re granted any attention. Oliver MacLatchy is one such man. The creator behind Wood Melbourne, a brand specialising in handcrafted bathroom and tapware, Oliver has spent a lifetime dedicated to the details.
After school, Oliver worked a labourer, saving enough money to spend months travelling in Europe and the US. Upon returning to Australia, he completed a Year 13 Media and Sculpture course at Swinburne. He withdrew from an enrolment in RMIT Furniture Design to take up work with his father in residential construction, a decision that led to a lifelong love affair with timber.
In 2005, after a decade working with his father and travelling as often as possible, Oliver branched out on his own, and in 2007 began refurbishing his own home. ‘I converted an old tattoo studio into a residence, and we lived there for four years,’ he explains. ‘It had timber features everywhere!’
In 2012, while completing another build, the idea of Wood Melbourne was born. ‘I was looking for something more exciting in terms of tapware, and I started designing spouts and taps from timber’ Oliver recalls. Four years on, Wood Melbourne offers taps, basins, rails, spouts and vanity units in materials including timber, concrete, brass and marble. Oliver’s dedication to detail is evident in the customisation options, which include colour-plating brass to ‘almost any colour’, or supplying Oliver with stone from other parts of the building, which he then works into his creations.
Oliver describes his creative process as ‘insomnia inducing’ due to the endless creative possibilities. ‘There are so many opportunities to be creative in the tapware and bathroom design space. The more I make, the more ideas I get – it feels like I’ll never have enough time to put all of my ideas into reality.’
For now, he’s dreaming of designing an Aesop store, while keeping busy with the creation of timber and brass boxes (out in time for Christmas), commissions, and building his own place. ‘It’s exciting, the bathroom is going to be next level!’
The Wood Melbourne collection is available to order online, or by appointment 10am-3pm Saturdays at Wood Melbourne, 146 Melville Rd, West Brunswick.