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

Carving Out A New Career With Courtney Petley

Studio Visit

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the hole in the middle of the wooden spoon. It it for measuring spaghetti portions, or to ease the flow of sauce when stirring?

We have it on good authority from New Zealand based wood designer and maker Courtney Petley that the utensil is perfectly shaped to prevent food from breaking up as you stir. Now that is cleared up, read on to hear how this Auckland maker switched from a career in fashion, to turning reclaimed timber into unique and beautiful handcrafted kitchenware.

17th April, 2019

Hand crafted kitchenware by Auckland based designer and maker Courtney Petley. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

A life time of making with her hands has led to a career in wood craft. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Everything is hand formed, and tries not to waste any of the reclaimed wood. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Courtney in her home studio. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

The objects are made to use every day, and become even more beautiful with age. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Courtney uses all reclaimed native New Zealand timbers. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Courtney works from her home studio, but uses the local community centre to do large scale cutting. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

The mystery of the hole in the wooden spoon is solved! Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Miriam McGarry
Wednesday 17th April 2019

‘I needed to feel like I was being creative, especially to relieve my mind’ – Courtney Petley.

Wood designer and maker Courtney Petley describes herself as a ‘hands on’ kid growing up. With a knitting, sewing, baking and painting Mum, and builder and designer Dad, she was exposed to a creative and encouraging environment. Courtney explains ‘I remember making clothes for my dolly by lying them on some fabric and tracing a dress shape around them, and one of my favourite games to play as a kid was to build my dream home using bits from a Duplo farm and zoo set.’

This burgeoning interest in dolls clothes developed into a career in the fashion industry. While working a highly stressful fashion job, Courtney felt ‘a huge need to do something with my hands, I needed to feel like I was being creative, especially to relieve my mind.’ After tinkering with many materials, Courtney began working with wood… and the rest is history!

Now working out of a studio in the garage of her apartment, Courtney creates unique handcrafted pieces from reclaimed native New Zealand timber. Using Kauri, Rimi and the occasional old Totara railway sleeper, she plays with straight lines and organic forms. Inspired by mid-century design, geometry, and Charles and Ray Eames; Courtney highlights ‘I love the organically straight lines you get with woodworking, a handle can appear straight but I love that you can feel the handmade nature and impurities of it.’

Each piece made by Courtney is unique in size and grain, which she explains is ‘like going to the fabric store for inspiration!’ The designs are adapted to utilise as much of the timber as possible and minimise waste of the reclaimed wood. Courtney works to bring recycled wood back to life, and hopes that the objects will be ‘part of a family home for another hundred or so years.’ A new (beautiful) lease on life, for our precious and limited resources.

This Week

Interiors

How To Turn Home Inspiration Into Reality, With Style Sourcebook

This free web-based mood board tool is the perfect place to refine your interior design vision. We show you how it's done!

News

The Melbourne Label Making Stylish Kids' Wetsuits That Grow On Trees

Fants make kids’ wetsuits from natural rubber that look good and do good.
Sponsored

Interiors

The Central Coast Home Of The Block Alumni Kyal + Kara

The Australian coastal meets Mediterranean family home of former The Block stars Kyal and Kara Demmrich, on the NSW Central Coast.
Amelia Barnes
  9 hours ago

Architecture

An Architect + Interior Designer’s Coastal Home, Grounded In Nature

This Sydney family home is like a private treehouse by the beach, with views at every turn, and unexpected interiors.
Christina Karras

Interiors

A 1915 Horse Stables Turned Family Home In The Adelaide Hills

SpaceCraft transformed a circa 1915 horse stable into a family’s elevated version of a traditional farmhouse in the Adelaide Hills.

Creative People

Meet The Small Melbourne Brand Reinventing The Humble Gumboot

From a humble farm in South Gippsland, Merry People has grown from a grassroots start-up, to a successful brand sold across the globe!
Christina Karras
  17 hours ago

Architecture

A Floating House Entangled In Brush Box Trees On North Stradbroke Island

The tree canopy takes precedence over ocean views in this holiday home for three families, designed by Conrad Gargett architects.

News

See Ethiopian-Norwegian Artist Olana Janfa's Colourful, Debut Solo Show!

The Melbourne-based painter’s first solo show is opening tonight, exploring themes of language, race and status in his playful works.
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Sensitively Built Coastal Garden, Designed To Look ‘Untouched’

The Garden Social carefully designed a garden, built into waterfront sand dunes on NSW's South Coast, where the serene seascape beyond takes...
Christina Karras

Homes

A Tiny Slice Of Japan Inside A Pink Darlinghurst Terrace

Ceramicist Laura Butler shares her 1890s Darlinghurst pink terrace, renovated by Trias in accordance with Japanese design principles.

Sustainable Homes

‘Future Ready’: Inside One Of Melbourne’s Newest Sustainable Developments

Mirvac are hoping to encourage sustainable living with their innovative 'future ready' display home in Melbourne's inner west.
Christina Karras

Stays

Escape To This Magical Tiny Home In The Gold Coast Hinterlands

Step inside an adorable, off-grid getaway on a farm, with 'no distractions', limited phone reception and a wood-fired hot tub.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Contemporary Brunswick Addition That Contorts Out Of Sight

A major Brunswick home extension by Lisa Breeze Architect takes its cues from the surrounding neighbourhood and its Edwardian facade.

Shopping

Say Hello To Your New Favourite Summer Shoes With This FRANKiE4 Giveaway!

Everything you need to know for your chance to win one of five pairs of shoes (of your choice!) from Australian label FRANKiE4!

News

New Melbourne Brand Saule Have Created The Dreamiest Robes, Just In Time For Summer

Local creative Sally Tabart has designed the ultimate robe for the home, beach and beyond – and it’s all made here in Melbourne!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Creative People

George & Willy, Making Everyday Tools Great Again

Clever, functional design for everyday life, from the creative New Zealander duo.
Miriam McGarry

Studio Visit

Border Co. Hand Carved Spoons

Self-taught woodworker Justine Bolzon lays out some of her striking hand carved designs.
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

Carol Russell

Hand carved spoons and bowls by Brisbane-based woodworker, Carol Russell.
Jo Hoban

This Week

News

New Melbourne Brand Saule Have Created The Dreamiest Robes, Just In Time For Summer

Local creative Sally Tabart has designed the ultimate robe for the home, beach and beyond – and it’s all made here in Melbourne!
Christina Karras

News

The Melbourne Label Making Stylish Kids' Wetsuits That Grow On Trees

Fants make kids’ wetsuits from natural rubber that look good and do good.
Sponsored

Interiors

A 1915 Horse Stables Turned Family Home In The Adelaide Hills

SpaceCraft transformed a circa 1915 horse stable into a family’s elevated version of a traditional farmhouse in the Adelaide Hills.

Architecture

A Contemporary Brunswick Addition That Contorts Out Of Sight

A major Brunswick home extension by Lisa Breeze Architect takes its cues from the surrounding neighbourhood and its Edwardian facade.

Architecture

A Floating House Entangled In Brush Box Trees On North Stradbroke Island

The tree canopy takes precedence over ocean views in this holiday home for three families, designed by Conrad Gargett architects.

Interiors

The Central Coast Home Of The Block Alumni Kyal + Kara

The Australian coastal meets Mediterranean family home of former The Block stars Kyal and Kara Demmrich, on the NSW Central Coast.
Amelia Barnes
  9 hours ago

Shopping

Say Hello To Your New Favourite Summer Shoes With This FRANKiE4 Giveaway!

Everything you need to know for your chance to win one of five pairs of shoes (of your choice!) from Australian label FRANKiE4!

News

See Ethiopian-Norwegian Artist Olana Janfa's Colourful, Debut Solo Show!

The Melbourne-based painter’s first solo show is opening tonight, exploring themes of language, race and status in his playful works.
Christina Karras

Stays

Escape To This Magical Tiny Home In The Gold Coast Hinterlands

Step inside an adorable, off-grid getaway on a farm, with 'no distractions', limited phone reception and a wood-fired hot tub.
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Sensitively Built Coastal Garden, Designed To Look ‘Untouched’

The Garden Social carefully designed a garden, built into waterfront sand dunes on NSW's South Coast, where the serene seascape beyond takes...
Christina Karras

Architecture

An Architect + Interior Designer’s Coastal Home, Grounded In Nature

This Sydney family home is like a private treehouse by the beach, with views at every turn, and unexpected interiors.
Christina Karras

Interiors

How To Turn Home Inspiration Into Reality, With Style Sourcebook

This free web-based mood board tool is the perfect place to refine your interior design vision. We show you how it's done!

Sustainable Homes

‘Future Ready’: Inside One Of Melbourne’s Newest Sustainable Developments

Mirvac are hoping to encourage sustainable living with their innovative 'future ready' display home in Melbourne's inner west.
Christina Karras

Homes

A Tiny Slice Of Japan Inside A Pink Darlinghurst Terrace

Ceramicist Laura Butler shares her 1890s Darlinghurst pink terrace, renovated by Trias in accordance with Japanese design principles.

Creative People

Meet The Small Melbourne Brand Reinventing The Humble Gumboot

From a humble farm in South Gippsland, Merry People has grown from a grassroots start-up, to a successful brand sold across the globe!
Christina Karras
  17 hours ago

Similar Stories

Creative People

George & Willy, Making Everyday Tools Great Again

Clever, functional design for everyday life, from the creative New Zealander duo.
Miriam McGarry

Studio Visit

Border Co. Hand Carved Spoons

Self-taught woodworker Justine Bolzon lays out some of her striking hand carved designs.
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

Carol Russell

Hand carved spoons and bowls by Brisbane-based woodworker, Carol Russell.
Jo Hoban

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net