Hamish Govan is the brains and hands behind the Ballarat-based furniture restoration business 'Pamo Industries'. We asked Hamish about his work, his inspirations, and his ideas about making with his hands.
Hi Hamish, how’s your day going?
Great, thanks. It’s been hectic lately setting up the new factory and showroom, but it’s very exciting.
We’re glad to have you on DuckFeatures, you’re the brains (and hands!) behind our beautiful office desks. Tell us a bit about what you do.
More hands than brains I think, haha! Put simply, I design, make and restore furniture. I have a background in French polishing and do a lot of restoration work – anything from furniture to eskys, pieces from any era. For my custom-built jobs I use recycled materials where I can. I’m always hunting for second hand timber and machinery leftovers from old factories. It adds character to my work and gives these materials a second lease of life.
What draws you to carpentry?
I was always “hands-on” when I was younger. I was always tinkering with tools and motors in the shed as a kid. Academia was never my strong point, but I am good at building things with my hands. I left school and got myself an apprenticeship in furniture restoration. I knew at that point that I wanted to work for myself. I studied Furniture Design at RMIT and after a few years of working in dead-end jobs, the business is took shape and is finally well underway.
I love looking at different materials and imagining their possibilities. When it comes to the design process I much prefer to start fiddling around with different shapes and materials in the workshop, rather than sitting at a desk drawing, or designing on a computer. Making furniture allows me to get creative and build beautiful, functional things, and for me it’s about the hands on process.
What era of design do you love?
The late mid-century era is my favourite. Of course I love the furniture, but I particularly love the cars and designer products from this era as well. I love the simplicity in the designs, clean lines and the iconic look of the time.
Have you restored any pieces that you have wanted to keep for yourself?
Haha, I’d love to keep everything I work on! Earlier this year I restored a Scottish secretaire desk. I fell in love with this piece not because of its aesthetic but because of its history. The customer’s family brought it out from Scotland four generations ago. The many years of use and abuse created the beautiful patina on the English Oak timber. Throughout the years it had many uses, most recently as a fishing storage cabinet by the customer’s late husband. When I picked it up it was close to being used for firewood. After a full restoration it was wonderful to see it come back to what it once was – a centerpiece of someone’s office and still a very practical piece to use today.
I don’t like to restore a piece so that it has that brand new glossy finish, it can look tacky. My style of restoration preserves that patina, but gives a piece a new lease of life.
What do you feel is the most important thing about your work?
I’d have to say the design process. Creating furniture as a job is what I’ve been working towards for many years. But in saying that, I also love the response from customers when I deliver a finished piece. To see their reaction makes the late nights all worthwhile.
We love your industrial aesthetic. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I draw inspiration from a lot of things in my life. Anything that is hand made and of high quality. There’s so much rubbish out there these days being passed off as quality products. It makes me appreciate older things, like old machinery, things with good design, that transcends time and is functional in both the past and present. The patina of old machines stands the test of time; they were made to look good as well as working functionally. That drives my designs.
Most of the machinery in my workshop is second hand, and it’s nice to think that there would have been someone else using that machine decades ago for the same purpose that I’m using it. It’s these things that make me want to create things that last – both from a design and functionality perspective.
We see you’ve upgraded to a new work/showroom! Is Pamo Industries booming?
The business is always a work in progress, but things are gaining momentum. The move to our new workshop needed to happen to generate more work. The goal is to create a sustainable business that I hope one day my kids will carry on. I’m really excited to have a bigger space to work in. I found that working from a shed at home meant I couldn’t create anything to show off to customers. But now with the showroom nearly complete, I can put more time into creating, and displaying more products.
Thanks for your time Hamish. We look forward to seeing more of your beautifully crafted pieces in time to come.
Thanks guys, I appreciate the opportunity.
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