MJP Studio a showcase of quality craftsmanship in our city

Crafting timeless pieces that are made to last is at the core of South Australian furniture designer Matt Pearson’s studio in Adelaide’s north eastern suburbs.

The craftsman is behind MJP Studio, maker of handmade and one-off designs that are manufactured from high quality materials with precision and passion.

Matt has an eye for refined style and a drive to make use of SA’s local supplier base wherever he can, and says Adelaide’s strong support networks allow the small but strong craft and furniture industry to flourish.

Matt Pearson in action at the Hendon-based MJP Studio. Photo by Lewis and Wilson Photography.

“The thing about Adelaide is that people support each other, they support good design and culture, they give back, and that instils confidence in me and my business,” he says.

“Supporting local is incredibly important and it’s something I’m doing in my business as well, I use local suppliers as much as I can. If local businesses expect people to buy local then they should be supporting local too.”

Matt strives to craft furniture pieces “to be woven into the fabric of the family home” but also builds custom designs for commercial and retail markets.

The Husk chair features Australian Wool-blend fabric. Photo by Heidi Wolff.

He encourages consumers to see the value of investing in high-quality locally made products and not fall victim to “high turnover consumerism” where furniture is mass manufactured and likely to be thrown away – not repaired – if broken.

He says a market of consumers who choose well made and sustainable bespoke pieces does exist, helping to sustain not only his own business, but the industry as a whole as the effects trickle through.

“With low cost furniture, if it breaks people will just throw it away, whereas if you’ve spent time with a furniture maker along the process you become connected to the maker … good furniture is made so it can be repaired,” Matt says. “A lot of contemporary makers push that and it’s always something MJP Studio has always done.”

His playful yet sophisticated works are made from high quality, locally sourced timbers from Australian and American origin, while leather and Australian wool also works their way into the fabric on some pieces, such as dining chairs and armchairs.

MJP Studio’s coffee table, the ‘Crossover’. Photo by Heidi Wolff.

Matt is originally from Sydney and moved to Tasmania in 2011 to complete a Bachelor of Environmental Design with Honours at the UTAS School of Architecture and Design, majoring in furniture.

He had heard of SA’s renowned craft and design hub JamFactory during his time at university and ended up applying for a coveted associate position within its furniture studio.

Matt was successful in gaining the spot at JamFactory in Adelaide and worked under the guidance of furniture designer Jon Goulder before going on to have his own studio there for one year.

Matt says he made the decision to remain in SA because Adelaide “ticked all the boxes”, with MJP Studio now settled as one of the city’s high end furniture manufacturers.

“Aesthetically, my style is influenced by Scandinavian design and contemporary Australian architecture and I think that comes from my training in Tassie,” he adds.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Agostino & Brown craft timeless pieces for much-loved spaces

From historic Adelaide Hills hotels to trendy metropolitan eateries and regional distilleries, Sam Agostino and Gareth Brown’s timeless furniture pieces can be found in popular places throughout the state.

The furniture and interior designers are behind custom furniture label Agostino & Brown (A+B) and are strong believers in the power of using high quality materials, while employing skilled South Australians to make the goods here in Adelaide.

“Our focus is making furniture in Adelaide where we can supply a national client base,” says Sam Agostino.

“We make everything in South Australia, we also work with other local makers and manufacturers to keep the making business local in SA.”

Aside from Sam and Gareth, A+B employs at its workshop in Wingfield four highly skilled furniture makers who have more than 70 years’ of experience between them in crafting handmade furniture.

The label’s showroom is based in Adelaide’s CBD where Sam and Gareth will meet with clients, usually interior designers after classic yet stylish timber pieces developed in strong consideration of the environment.

A+B’s work can be found in award-winning projects including the redeveloped Crafers Hotel which took out Best Hotel in Australia this year, as well as in the Stretton Centre which won Best Architecture Award in 2016 and at the Stirling Hotel which took the gong for Australia’s Best Restaurant in 2016.

Sam Agostino and Gareth Brown of Agostino & Brown. Photo by Mark Brake.

A+B works are also scattered around bars, restaurants and retail spaces including Twenty Third Street Distillery in Renmark, the Adelaide Central Market, Mitolo Winery, Angove Winery, the Feathers Hotel pavilion, and the Morphett Arms Hotel, among others. Other clients include Bendigo Adelaide Bank, Origin Energy, Westpac, Jones Lang LaSalle, RAA, Beerenberg, Monash University, Hub Australia, Qantas, and the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

“Having our furniture in beautiful public spaces designed by the most amazing interior designers and influential business entrepreneurs is most inspiring for us,” they say.

“We feel proud seeing our products being used by the general public and the great thing about using natural materials in our products is they tend to wear in not out, so they get even better with use. We welcome people looking for these same quality customisable furnishings in their own homes.”

Hub Australia Melbourne by Hassell Studio Adelaide, photo by Rachel Lewis, featuring A+B’s Woodsi table and olive stools.

Sam and Gareth started their working lives on differing career paths, they hadn’t yet met each other when Sam studied interior architecture at the University of South Australia, and Gareth worked as a chef in Adelaide before heading to Europe to broaden his culinary repertoire.

Gareth ran restaurants in the UK and France for many years before deciding it was time for a change, deciding to study traditional handcrafted furniture making in Bristol.

In 2007 he headed home to Adelaide, taking a spot as an associate in renowned craft studio JamFactory, and deciding SA was home once again.

During her studies, Sam had worked with designer and curator Khai Liew at Augusta Antiques, home to extremely rare and old Japanese, Danish, Australian and French pieces restored by hand.

Once she had graduated university, she worked as an interior designer at Adelaide graphic and interior designer company Enoki, and fast realised the difficulty in sourcing locally-made products.

It was while working for Enoki that she met Gareth, and later the two decided they would work well together and that making furniture from Adelaide was a viable venture.

Twig House by interior designer Allison Pye, photo by Lisa Cohen featuring A&B’s Tambootie table in custom colour finish.

Their business was registered in 2010 and soon after they began designing their first product, the Fig stool, a classically shaped solid American oak and Australian pine piece that “set the tone for our style”.

“Our furniture style is simple, functional and practical with a clean aesthetic,” Gareth says.

“It is always custom made with the highest quality of finish and construction and an environmentally conscious design process. We simply solve problems in manufacturing and the availability of good furniture. We respect our craft, value craftsmanship and enjoy the process of making objects that will last a lifetime.”

The main material used for their collections of tables, seating, storage cabinets and shelves, mirrors and lighting is solid hardwood oak sourced from ethically managed and sustainable forests in Australia and America. A+B also uses re-claimed timbers such as Oregon and Messmate, as well as quality leather, marble, stone and steel.

Sam and Gareth say design and manufacturing in Adelaide is of high quality and that the city is home to strong support among businesses.

“We feel part of an exciting, innovative and growing community,” Sam says.

“Adelaide is an amazing place to live and provides endless opportunities to work with prominent clients on superior projects.”

Header image: The Stirling Hotel by proprietor Sarah Matthews, featuring A+B’s olive stools and doughwood table.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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