Last week I had the daunting task of photographing the Oxbow Suite. It is without question the finest piece here in the Showroom at Dunstone Design. There are clients in China that are interested in it, and we needed to send photographs across. We don't currently have a studio set up, and so photographing a piece like this in a pure showroom setting is a compromise, and made me worry about doing the piece justice. It still deserves to be done absolutely properly, and we do intend to do so, but for the time being, we got by with what we had.
It may turn out that pieces like this, in about a month's time, are no longer available here in the Australian Showroom, with future pieces of this quality likely to find their way overseas to China. The Oxbow is made of a rare and special tree, that was nearing the end of its life on a property in the Otway Ranges in Victoria. Evan has written it's story below:
The Oxbow Suite
"This Oxbow dinning suite is made from a single log of highly figured Victorian blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon). This particular log came from the North face of Mt. Sabine in the Otway ranges, Victoria. The North face of Mt. Sabine is the “dry side” (the wet weather comes from the South, off the ocean) so this was a very slow growing tree.
The tree was selected and milled by Mr. Denis Brown of Corsair timbers, Yackandandah. The blackwood was approximately 180 years old and had reached the end of its life at the time it was felled. The bole of the tree had rotted out in the middle, and only a relatively small amount of timber was salvageable. Mr. Brown expertly milled the log and seasoned the timber for 11 years before selling it to us. The highly figured nature of the wood is very rare and is only found in the biggest and oldest slow-growing trees. It is exceptionally rare for a whole dining suite (chairs and table) to be made from solid timber out of one special log.
Mr. Brown has been milling blackwood out of the Otways for more than 20 years. He has various “in-house” grades for his timber that go beyond the normal designation of “select” and “fiddleback”. The highest grade he has is super fine dark fiddle back. This log is one of only four logs that he has ever given this designation to. Dunstone Design has hand crafted furniture from three of the four logs with this designation.
Timber of this quality is usually made in to very thin veneers, which can only be used on flat or gently curved surfaces. It is not possible to make the shapes such as those found in the Clearwater chair or Oxbow leg design from veneers.
The detail timber on the suite (seen on the legs and as the slats in the chairs) is a West African timber called wenge (Millettia laurentii). I have used it to highlight the colour and grain of the blackwood.The Oxbow suite took nearly 300 hours of labour from our master craftsmen to make. It consists of one table and ten chairs and will only be sold as a complete set.
The price for the suite is AU$55,000 including GST."