High seas and DNA

Oli Juliusson from Hafnarfjardur in Iceland was a fisherman for ten years, before deciding on a change of career.

Oli first came across the Chippendale school on the internet and says that it seemed “authentic and real.”

The pieces that Oli made during his year with us all pay homage to the hard lives experienced by Icelandic fishermen.

The design flourishes that he incorporated into his pieces also included a bit of his own DNA.


That’s no bad thing in a woodworker because it lends honest originality to craftsmanship.

More than anything, it really does put the bespoke into fine furniture.

Oli’s first piece was a beautifully-crafted olive ash table, which he named The Dolphin, after the fishing vessel he sailed on.

Oli fishing boat Dolphin at Chippendale school

The design of the table’s legs reflected the architecture of the ship’s gallows.  That’s the arched structure at the rear of the ship (pictured above).

That spirit of the high seas was also reflected in a chair that allows you to sit in the crest of a wave.

Its upper section, formed from fourteen pieces of steam-bent olive ash, sat on oak legs.

They formed a sinuous shape that was both tactile and beguiling.

Oli’s approach to furniture design is a compelling one, linking his pieces to a seafaring tradition and a buying audience.

It’s also his way of making his furniture designs unique to him, and retelling a little of his own past in everything he does.

At Christmas, Oli treated us all to a taste of Kæstur hákarl which is Icelandic for…um…fermented shark.

It’s a national dish, made from Greenland or sleeper shark.  It’s cured using a fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months.

Helping the fermented shark go down, Oli also treated us to a shot of Icelandic schnapps.  It’s considered to be his country’s signature liquor, made from fermented potato mash.

It is also sometimes called Svarti dauði, meaning Black Death, although we all survived.

Oli has now returned to his native Iceland to combine a life at sea with a parallel career as a furniture designer on dry land.

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