The Young Furniture Makers exhibition, our annual showcase of emerging design talent, returns to the City of London on Wednesday 12 October for one day only.

Around 100 designs will be on show with industry being invited to attend and meet up-and-coming designer-makers who are looking to make an impact on the sector. Over the coming weeks we’ll be interviewing some of the makers who will be exhibiting at the event, which is sponsored by Axminister Tools and Sanderson Design Group and supported by the January Furniture Show.

Name: Chaska Schuler
Tell us about the product you’re exhibiting. What’s the story behind it?

Since the beginning of my apprenticeship as a furniture maker, I have been fascinated by Japanese craftsmanship, its woodworking tools and the art of traditional wood joinery. At that time, I discovered the joy of creating and working with my own hands. This timeless craft is the result of over 1500 years of accumulated knowledge imparted from the masters to their disciples. The oldest wooden building in the world (a five-storey pagoda – 五重の塔, gojū no tō) stands in the Japanese city of Ikaruga for over 1400 years, defying all natural and man-made disasters. These buildings, as well as the Chinese and Japanese chairs that have been in use for centuries, are testimony to the quality of the sophisticated joining techniques. My wardrobe is a fusion of Japanese and Western traditions, inspired by Japanese temple construction imposing its presence like a Japanese bonsai solitaire. For me, the strength lies in simplicity. This is the reason why this piece is characterized by lightness, clear lines and contrasts. The supporting legs are derived from the curved roof shape of Japanese temples.

What was the most challenging part of bringing it to life?

The load-bearing and supporting structure was a great challenge, first from a design point of view, but above all from a manufacturing point of view. The reason lies in the curved shape, which tapers repeatedly in all planes. The complex leg structures as well as the connecting arches have been manufactured with repeated accuracy using CAD data and templates produced with Shaper Origin.

What do you hope to get out of being part of the Young Furniture Makers exhibition?

I hope for a lively exchange between us young designers and makers, the audience and the professional woodworking scene in the UK and I hope that taking part at the exhibition will open doors on my way as an independent creator.

Who is your design hero and why?

My design hero is clearly George Nakashima (*24.5.1905 – † 15.6.1990). What distinguishes Nakashima is the poetic style of his work, his reverence for wood and the belief that his furniture allows insight into ‘The Soul of a Tree’ – as he put it in the title of his 1981 memoir. ‘The Soul of a Tree’ by George Nakashima accompanied me during my five years of training and has deeply influenced my thinking and my work. Nakashima revealed to me how important a holistic creative work is.

What are your career aspirations?

After my four-year apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker in Switzerland, I studied and practised furniture design, making and restoration at the Chippendale International School of Furniture in Scotland. After this important experience I got the opportunity to take part in the summer school in Boisbuchet, France, where I was introduced to Japanese woodworking under the guidance of master carpenter Takami Kawai and experienced designer Wataru Kumano. Currently I am working and learning how to restore furniture and art objects with a restorer in the South of France. After my return next year, I will start my own making business designing and building durable and aesthetically enchanting furniture of solid wood as well as restoring old/historic furniture.

How do you think you’d react if you won a Young Furniture Makers Award?

That would be the greatest experience of my life so far. I would be overjoyed, because such an award would be an acknowledgement of the quality of my work and would certainly help me a lot in starting my own woodworking business.

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