Andrew Dominic Brings Sleek Design to Cape Town

26/January/2017
Jess Spiro

Someone once said that ‘where you find quality, you will find a craftsman, not a quality-control expert’. While it seems presumptuous to try and place Andrew Dominic in any kind of box, this description seems to fit him perfectly. A walk through his Observatory-based workshop, where he and his team create striking pieces of furniture, makes this abundantly clear. In amongst the quiet hum and buzz of the hand-operated machinery, Andrew can be found getting stuck into the activity of the day. If he’s not perfecting a finish, he’s ensuring precision on other pieces being put together. If ever you needed a definition of a craftsman, you would find it in Andrew.

The story of how Andrew’s furniture company came to be, tells a tale of a man compelled by design and woodwork. Having grown up in Devon in the UK, surrounded by yachts and a love of sailing, he soon found himself interested in the design of them. This was his first introduction to woodwork and before long he combined his love of boats and carpentry and took to the open seas. He worked on yachts, repairing them over the winter months, while sailing the idyllic Mediterranean and Caribbean seas for most of his 20s, before meeting and falling in love with his South African-born wife, Susie.

Swapping the open seas for something a little more land-based, Andrew went to hone his skills with renowned artist and designer David Savage.

It was here that Andrew was able to scale down from large yachts and to fine-tune his woodworking abilities. Before long, the call of the Cape was too loud to ignore and Andrew and Susie moved to the mother city in 2009 where he began to set up his business.

Fueled by the freedom to create beautiful pieces, coupled with his undying appreciation for natural beauty, it was always clear to Andrew that his business would focus on wood. He’s known to have ‘a thing’ for wood, and when asked why he explains that its workability and variation stand out for him. The fact that it’s been around for so long, a history that is told in its unique markings and gradation, means that there is real beauty to highlight. And in his furniture, he’s able to show off the fine techniques that go into crafting each piece. For Andrew, crafting his work starts at the point of heading to the yard to select the wood, which he does himself. He also decides which piece of wood will go where.

Just like Michelangelo, who saw David in the piece of marble before he even started, Andrew sees the detail in the wood and knows exactly where it belongs in the furniture.

He oversees every part of the manufacturing process, specifically the stages, where he helps all of the hard work come together.

Every item is handmade, with manually-operated machinery – he believes that automated timber machines that do all the work for you can’t be described as a craft. He’s passed this passion for handiwork on to his small team of carpenters. He taught them almost everything they know and says that aside from their skill and attention to detail, he loves their enthusiasm. They love to create beautiful pieces as much as he does.

For him, hand making everything allows him to play each piece of wood like a musician plays a string. It has purpose and helps to tell the story.

And what a story it is – the Andrew Dominic collection is nothing less than stunning. Each piece, while quirky and unique, still manages to tie in with every other piece, without being shouty or overshadowing. There’s a slick minimalist edge to the range, most likely because Andrew believes in ‘enough’. To make everything strong enough, attractive enough, so that there is no excess, every piece features balance and restraint, while being solid and sturdy.

The first piece Andrew ever made was a commission for a friend’s father, a table, and soon after that he was requested to make bar stools. These bar stools, the Draper, have become iconic in the collection and with their sleek, retro legs and comfortable seats, it’s easy to see why. Their design represents perfectly what you can expect from his range of furniture and if you had to pick a favourite, you’d be hard pressed. While Andrew still accepts commissions, there almost seems to be no need for it. The range is neat, quirky and beautifully made, meant to last a lifetime. Regardless of your style, there will be a piece that speaks to you. To be a fan of Andrew’s work is to be a fan of true craftsmanship.

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