This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Meet Made By Morgen

Studio Visit

It’s quite literally been a story of farm-to-table for furniture maker Nicholas McDonald.

The diligent craftsman hosted us at his East Brunswick workshop recently, to view his Made by Morgen designs and hear how he’s slowly but surely carved out a career that merges creative passion with practical know-how.

9th August, 2018

Made by Morgen aka Nicholas McDonald’s AOD-TR dining table, in solid American Oak. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Inside Nicholas’ East Brunswick studio. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

He ran his family farm and worked as a structural foreman before launching his own handmade furniture business. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

I have a small workshop space in Brunswick East, in a warehouse shared with a bunch of other creatives and like-minded people,’ tells Nicholas. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Roscoe, Nicholas and the AOB-Seat, in solid American Oak with Warwick upholstery and natural leather strapping. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The Made by Morgen logo model, alongside Nicholas’ Shelving Unit in solid American Oak. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

WB-S, in solid American Walnut with Warwick upholstery and natural leather strapping, featuring traditional mortice and tenon joinery Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

After a carpentry apprenticeship in Melbourne, Nicholas honed his craft in Denmark, Germany, and the UK. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 9th August 2018

‘… it dawned on me that I could combine both my practical and creative sides in one.’ – Nicholas McDonald.

Nicholas McDonald was born and raised on a cattle property in south west Victoria. ‘I never really knew what I wanted to do in later life, so shortly after I finished school I embarked on an overseas working holiday, which was cut short due to my father suffering a debilitating stroke,’ he begins. Nicholas, or ‘Morgen’ as he has been called by his Dad for as long as he can remember, immediately returned home to run the family property.

After few years on the land, Nicholas began to realise that this wasn’t his calling in life and so, set off to Melbourne, where he began a carpentry apprenticeship with a commercial builder, and spent the best part of a decade as a structural foreman.

‘In my late 20s, I purchased an old warehouse apartment and did the fit-out and built the furniture for it,’ recalls Nicholas. ‘It was at that moment that it dawned on me that I could combine both my practical and creative sides in one.’

Quitting his foreman role, Nicholas headed abroad again, this time knowing exactly what he wanted to do: soak up as much ‘experience in the furniture world’ as he could!  First, this was by working as a builder in the small village of Ringkobing on Denmark’s West Coast, which also ‘happens to house the factory that has the reproduction rights to Finn Juhl‘s collection of furniture’ he enthuses. Next, it was furniture making in Berlin, followed by London. But full-time work was scarce, and Nicholas’ funds waned, leading him back to Australia.

Returning home wasn’t all gloom though; friends enlisted Nicholas to design and make the furniture for their new health food shop Green Cup. ‘It’s kind of grown organically from there.’ he puns.

Late last year, he released a range of dining, coffee, side and bedside tables, as well as stools under his Made by Morgen brand. All of Nicholas’ pieces are handmade to order, utilising a mix of traditional and modern joinery techniques. Many hero his timber of choice: American Oak, with its beautiful grain pattern and light coloured appearance suiting the ‘minimal nature’ of his designs. Also look out for end-grain detailing, lovingly exposed in his mortise and tenon joinery.

My design process is very basic, it’s generally an idea I have in my head, my drawing and sketching abilities are limited, so I like to make the piece on the fly and then tweak any details accordingly,’ explains the modest 36-year-old, who is chuffed to have had the opportunity to learn from other makers, including Daniel Love and Andy Woolf.

These days, Nicholas relishes the chance to express his creative side in Melbourne, a place that’s ‘very supportive of the creative arts’. He’s planning on opening a Made by Morgen showroom in the not too distant future, along with adding new designs to the collection – ‘an exciting and daunting concept at the same time!’

View Nicholas McDonald’s Made by Morgen range or inquire about custom orders at Madebymorgen.com.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

Bern Chandley

Bernard Chandley is a proper old fashioned furniture maker, with a passion for Windsor chairs.

Studio Visit

Vincent Conboy Of Cenzo

A studio visit with the Reservoir-based furniture maker melding traditional techniques with contemporary style.

Furniture

Hugh McCarthy

New seating designs from Brunswick-based furniture designer Hugh McCarthy.
Elle Murrell

This Week

Architecture

Surf's Up In This Manly Apartment!

A home re-configured for beachside living, by McNally Architects & I+D Studio.

Shopping

Hand Painted Pieces And 70s-Inspired Prints In Bonnie And Neil's New Collection

Australian-made textiles label Bonnie and Neil launch their latest collection, 'Coast' - incorporating soft furnishings, and now, wallpaper!...
Amelia Barnes

Homes

Fine And Dandy In Dandenong!

PR Guru Jade Roberts shares her 1960s mid-century renovated family home.

News

Nine Of Australia's Leading Photographers On Show At CCP

View and purchase works from nine leading photographers at a new annual CCP event.
Amelia Barnes

Bringing Light and Space Into A Fitzroy Terrace House

Taylor Knights Architecture and Interior Design transform this inner city terrace house with a sunken living room, shifting ceiling volumes
Miriam McGarry

Gardens

A Plant Collector's Wild And Wonderful Paradise

Lyle Filippe shares his lifelong love of rare plants and quest to make 'something iconic' via his never-ending passion project, Roraima Nurs...
Georgina Reid

Modernist Australia

1970s Excellence On The Market In Eaglemont

Nestled within the Glenard Estate designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Griffin, this four-bedroom stunner brings the WOW-factor!
Patricia Callan

Art

The Tree Change That Inspired A New Career For Artist Edwina Edwards

Landscape painter Edwina Edwards has been quietly developing her art practice since relocating to Albury, NSW. Her first-ever solo exhibitio...
Amelia Barnes
48:47

Podcast

TDF Talks with Architect, IADV Co-founder, and Academic Jefa Greenaway

The trailblazing architect, advocate and academic reflects on his pivotal role as the first indigenous architect to be registered in Victori...

Interiors

Stylist Megan Morton Reveals Her Hidden Kitchen Design!

The self-proclaimed ‘house whisperer’ shares her sleek new bistro kitchen for a family of five.

News

What Does Travelling Solo Really Look Like?

A solitary holiday to Italy inspired Bri Hammond to capture the images in her first solo exhibition, Nuoto da sola.
Amelia Barnes

News

Australian Ceramics Open Studios Is On Again This Weekend!

Clay artists around Australia are opening their doors this weekend for Australian Ceramics Open Studios 2019.
Amelia Barnes

Art

The Must-See Artists At Melbourne’s Affordable Art Fair

Our pick of standout artists participating in the Affordable Art Fair in Melbourne next month!

Shopping

Country Road Make Sustainability The Height Of Luxury

The new 5 Star Green Star Design Review rated Chadstone store is the pinnacle of eco-friendly design.

News

Buxton Contemporary Reflects On 100 Years Of Bauhaus Design

See archival footage and contemporary works inspired by the Bauhaus movement in this Melbourne exhibition.
Amelia Barnes

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

Bern Chandley

Bernard Chandley is a proper old fashioned furniture maker, with a passion for Windsor chairs.

Studio Visit

Vincent Conboy Of Cenzo

The Reservoir-based furniture maker melding traditional techniques with contemporary style.

Furniture

Hugh McCarthy

New seating designs from Brunswick-based furniture designer Hugh McCarthy.
Elle Murrell