Talent in Timber – Nathan Day Design

Words by Jasmine Ashkar
Photography by Nathan Day, Dion Robeson, Bo Wong
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With an original direction of pursuing fine art as a school-leaver, his father’s pragmatic ideals led Nathan Day to discover a zeal for the craft of furniture making. Exemplified in the sculptural manipulation of timber that underlies his unique designs, Nathan’s artistic aptitude for curating a refined aesthetic is melded seamlessly with functionality. Creating furniture from his Yallingup workshop, Nathan Day Design embodies an ethos of longevity through considered choice of sustainable material and skilful craftsmanship.

Grateful to have been spurred to take up an assistant job with a local furniture maker by his trade background father, Nathan’s foray from fine art to the world of furniture design went smoothly. “Thankfully, it turned out to be my dream job,” he explains. Leading to an apprenticeship in the field, Nathan’s passion for producing artistry through the medium of timber progressed to desires of starting his own design studio. “I always wanted to work for myself and imagined that I would probably set up a workshop as soon as I finished my apprenticeship,” Nathan tells, “but by then, I had decided that I need more training and was accepted as a trainee in a prestigious arts and crafts workshop in Hampshire, UK.”

Fabricating sleek timber creations with signature elements of angularity and negative space, Nathan’s distinctive point of view and fanciful design inspiration solidified his place in the industry.

Following his return to WA, Nathan’s first collection was born, employing local timber and techniques studied overseas, “however I found it very hard to sell to a market that seemed to only be interested in chunky slab furniture,” he laments. After a few years hiatus from the industry, Nathan returned, reinvigorated.

In 2010, Nathan Day Designs was born from humble beginnings in his parent’s garage. Fabricating sleek timber creations with signature elements of angularity and negative space, Nathan’s distinctive point of view and fanciful design inspiration solidified his place in the industry. “I did a collection a couple of years ago called the Quarterlight. It was a collection of tables with the leg shape based on the shape of the quarterlight window in the old Kombi camper vans,” he recounts.

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Drawn to the beauty of hardwoods as an apprentice, Nathan now largely works with American hardwood species – a choice driven largely by their enduring quality and sustainability.

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Nathan’s work champions showcasing the diverse properties of wood. “Timber is amazingly strong, so it can be diminished in its volume and still retain its structural integrity. Timber can be burnt and textured. We use a timbers tannin connect to chemically change its colour. We use steam to soften and bend it.” Drawn to the beauty of hardwoods as an apprentice, Nathan now largely works with American hardwood species – a choice driven largely by their enduring quality and sustainability.

Working primarily with American oak, walnut, ash and cherry, Nathan’s pieces enjoy the finish and structural integrity hardwoods afford. “American timbers have a beautiful tonal range,” he explains, “oak and walnut, in particular, have very distinct and recognisable grain patterns, and they both finish amazingly well – especially with a hard wax oil. And the chatoyance in walnut is like no other. It’s incredible to watch the grain dance in front of your eyes as you walk around a tabletop.”

Nathan Day Design’s newest collection has been crafted for an esteemed commercial project in Perth. Composed of moody, ebonised American walnut, the collection features a 7.5-metre boardroom table, a handcrafted CEO’s desk from a single walnut log and sculptural console tables. Looking forward to celebrating timber through more thoughtfully designed pieces in 2022, Nathan reflects that “timber is such a beautiful, diverse material with limitless design possibilities. I’m still exploring them.”