Rolf Barfoed is a Canberra based furniture maker, who specialises in crafting bespoke pieces for the home and business. He has his own studio in Canberra where he creates unique pieces for clients in Canberra and beyond. See Rolf’s designs at this years Design Canberra Festival at his open studio on Saturday November 12 from 11pm – 4pm.
What inspires your designs and what are you trying to achieve through their production?
R: As a furniture designer and maker, my designs are informed by my knowledge of timber and craftsmanship and the capabilities of the tools I own or can access. Within that, being inventive and original in my use of equipment has allowed me to make complex furniture simply and repeatedly and I’d say that’s the inspiration behind my designs. By working to heirloom quality I make the most of the timber resource and build on the legacy of Australian craft furniture.
What do you think the key thing is in creating a good design?
R: It has to grab people’s attention. A good first impression is key. Once people are drawn in, then they can notice and consider the functionality, craftsmanship, liveability and timelessness of a piece – combined, that’s what attracted them in the first place.
Canberra has undergone a lot of change in the last few years. How has the evolution of Canberra’s social and cultural scene changed your design practice?
R: I established my workshop in 2014 alongside SixWiluna shared workshop in Fyshwick. We’re a social bunch and being in the company of people with different training and influences has changed my goals in design and business.Events held by Canberra organisations such as CraftACT and DIAACT and the many new galleries and exhibition spaces have made for a very inclusive and accessible design community with a broad reach.
What makes your work unique and truly your own?
R: It can be hard to differentiate one woodworker from another because we mostly all use the same materials and equipment. By working to the highest integrity at each stage of making I hope to show people my commitment and passion for craftsmanship and my intention for an indefinite serviceable lifespan for my furniture. I’m really focused on the best craftsmanship.
What is the best thing about being a furniture designer?
R: Even with hundreds of years of tradition and industry there’s still plenty of scope for original design and craftsmanship in furniture. Having a creative job, designing to a plan, or working from a doodle in a sketchbook, through to crafting the finished piece is very rewarding and the best thing about being a furniture designer/maker.
Why did you use wood as your medium and what is the most challenging thing about working with this material?
R: I’ve had a passion for woodwork for as long as I can remember and it didn’t take much for my Industrial Arts teacher to persuade me to try for a career in it. Timber can be unpredictable and each piece can have many different characteristics which complicate the manufacture and change the aesthetics of the design. That’s challenging but also part of the fun and the appeal in working with a natural material.