The Chippendale school welcomes students of all ages and backgrounds on our introductory, intermediate and professional courses.
But Giuseppe Merlino from near Milan is the first post-doctoral researcher in microbiology that we’ve ever had.
It underlines how fine furniture design and making can be a second career for anybody at any age.
For Giuseppe, woodworking began as a hobby while he was researching environmental microbes in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
But he’d also always been interested in woodworking, seeing wood as the ultimate natural and most durable of materials.
Giuseppe came to us for a visit last summer. We also put him in touch with an Italian student, Gianluca Caregnato, who studied with us during 2017/18.
His first piece on the 2018/19 course was a Bauhaus-inspired desk that beautifully combined form and function.
His writing desk, in European oak, was linear and elegant, and incorporated architectural flourishes throughout.
Most clearly, the desk top was glass, allowing every detail of its sinuous curves to be easily seen.
It therefore celebrates all aspects of the design and construction process. A Bauhaus touch is that everything is on display.
Giuseppe’s second piece was a floating-top coffee table in American oak.
The table top was veneered in triangles using different rosewood types, with the inside of each triangle veneered with heartwood – a darker colour hewn from wood where sap doesn’t flow.
The lighter shade of rosewood making up the triangles was cut from sapwood – the part of the tree where sap does flow.
The wood has a strong, sweet smell which can last for many years, and which explains the name rosewood.
Another signature piece was a chair made from European oak, held together with pegs fumed with ammonia, and incorporating steam-bent elements.
He named it after Arthur Schopenhauer, the 19th century German philosopher.
Schopenhauer is often described as the artist’s philosopher because of the inspiration his aesthetics have given to artists of all kinds.
We’re delighted that Giuseppe is staying on at the school and setting up his business, Giuseppe Merlino Furniture. He’ll now be working on-campus from our incubation spaces, Myreside Studios.
These spaces allow Chippendale graduates to create their own businesses without the hassle and expense of finding and equipping their own workshops.
Graduates in our Myreside Studios have access to all our equipment and machinery. They also have access to tutor support.
It’s a great way for our alumni to start off their new ventures, and we wish Giuseppe every success with his.