Patrick O'Brien is a Perth-born, Melbourne-based muso/furniture maker and founder of new enterprise Tressel Table Co. (YES, the double S is intentional, I checked).
I must admit I have been hounding this guy SO BADLY since first seeing his cool handcrafted trestle at the Groupwork art show recently at Mr Kitly in Brunswick. Patrick loaned out one of his prototype tables for the exhibition and I have possibly sent him 45 emails since then. To the point of stalking. 'I want to photograph your studio', 'I love these shots but I need a portrait', 'when can I visit you?', 'please can I have the exclusive' yadda yadda yadda. I don't normally go to such lengths. There was just something so very DESIGN FILES about this little start up I got a little bit anxious about the scoop! :)
ANYWAY I think Patrick is a bit of a genius. He has stumbled across this niche which I, too, have often identified - it's that gaping hole in the market between Ikea and Mark Tuckey. No disrespect - I truly ADORE everything at Mark Tuckey, but such beautiful handcrafted solid timber furniture does demand a certain budget. And I can't help but think it shouldn't be completely inaccessible to buy a nice piece of quality furniture which is locally made.
Patrick makes these very utilitarian, but nonetheless beautifully crafted trestle tables from high quality plywood in his Northcote workshop. Sturdy, solid, and sanded to a velvet finish, the tables are brought to life by Patrick's astute attention to detail - evident in the sweet colourful cord he uses to tie off each leg, and the simple branding he stamps on each piece.
I asked Patrick a few questions about his new venture -
My interest in furniture probably stems from my Dad, who was a bit of a maverick and would make a lot of furniture in his backyard workshop. In fact the first piece I ever made was a joint effort with dad where we made a coffee table using old Jarrah fence posts that were lying around.
As a result of Dad's influence I suppose I have been somewhat design conscious since my teenage years. Initially it was skateboarding that got me interested in photography, filmmaking and architecture, which lead me to pursue Fine Arts at Curtin University where I worked with sculpture, photography and installation. Being exposed to these disciplines while studying sparked an interest in this minimalist aesthetic, which eventually led me to furniture design.
When I arrived in Melbourne about a year ago I didn't bring much with me. Upon looking for furniture I saw a huge divide in the price and quality of trestle tables that were for sale. I liked the designer tables but not the exuberant prices they came with, whereas I liked the affordability of the cheaper options but the quality of the materials were questionable. I wanted a strong, simple and functional table. I then set about building the trestle table I wanted to see and it led me to start building them for others too!
Patrick is bound to be rich and / or famous at some point. He's just 25, and when not dreaming up commercial design ideas, he plays drums in a band called The School Of Radiant Living. Right now he says he is quite focused on making tables, so is putting all his energy into 'making them the best they can be!'. Awww. Although he also reckons it would be pretty cool to do a pop-up shop at some point down the line... YES Agreed.
At present Tressel Table Co. tables are available direct through Patrick's brand new website tresseltableco.com (due to go live TODAY, don't blame me if it's not up yet!) for $360.00 each, and free shipping is included to most capital cities within Australia.