Marty, what inspired you to become a cabinet maker?
I’ve always enjoyed the hands-on approach when it comes to creating. I’ve had a go at art and photography, even building surfboards, but growing up with your father’s joinery shop in the front yard was definitely a key source of inspiration. It took me a long time to really tap into what I liked about making furniture but the more I understand design, the more I love what I can achieve here in the workshop.
Growing up around your father’s creations, have you developed a similar style or moved in a different direction?
The short answer is no, but the more I think about this, the more I can see similarities in the two of us. When I was a young kid, I so desperately wanted a silly Lego pirate ship. Back then times were pretty tough, so the old man took it upon himself to handcraft a beautiful replica out of silky oak. What strikes me now is that I still own this toy pirate ship but I’ve thrown away all my old Lego. The fact is, when you make something for someone, you put all your heart into it and if there is anything I’ve learnt for the old man, it would have to be, if you do something, then make it count. Our style may be different, but our approach remains the same.
Building your own home must’ve been a dream come true; what were the highlights of the process?
I’ve worked on literally thousands of homes before but building your own is a whole different thing. I had the chance to express all my ideas through design and construction and working alongside our favorite architect was great. We handpicked the best local tradesmen to create our dream team and we truly enjoyed the process. It’s a small house but no corners were cut, where we lack in quantity, we gain in quality and I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that we were able support the community that has supported us for so long.
When the tools go down, what keeps Mr. Martin Johnston smiling?
I love nothing more then to escape for the weekend. Living on the Far North Coast, we are blessed with so many camp grounds, headlands and villages to explore and you can’t beat a full day of fun waves, good food and an open camp fire.
Finally, what is one bit of advice you can part with for anyone looking to create their own furniture?
I’ve learnt a lot from restoring furniture. It gave me a new appreciation of different joinery techniques, finishes and ergonomics, so I’d highly recommend starting there. Having the right hand tools and materials will ensure a good outcome and it will also govern how detailed your design will be. Do your research, have fun with it and keep it simple.
Keep up to date with Marty on instagram here @martin_johnston_