At just 22 years old, Nathan Clarke has an impressive portfolio of minimalistic wood furniture pieces that are simplistic, yet elegant. Although he was busy preparing to showcase his work in Toronto’s Do Design, an exhibition of young designers in Canada, Clarke took the time to speak about his work.
How did you get into design?
I have been interested in making, specifically woodworking, for the last seven years. My dad always involved me in building projects when I was young, so I discovered my affinity for working with my hands early on. I have a passion for building furniture and the intimate connection between maker and material.
What is the best part of your job?
I love problem solving. Whether it’s figuring out structural complexities or designing custom jigs and fixtures, I love going into a project not having any answers and coming out with a resolved piece of furniture.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’m endlessly interested in how people interact with objects. Furniture that is engaging yet not overbearing, refined but made with a human touch. I admire furniture with aesthetic clarity and unwavering functionality. The work of Naoto Fukasawa comes to mind as well as one of my past instructors, Heidi Earnshaw.
Can you walk me through your creative process? How does a piece go from idea to product?
Everything starts on paper. In my sketchbook, on napkins, on scrap pieces of wood, gradually defining my vision for a piece as ideas come to me. Once I have a clear direction, I’ll build maquettes to work through my ideas in three dimensions. From there I’ll start drafting in full scale and building full scale mock-ups, if necessary (these are invaluable for any seating project so that I can really dial-in the ergonomics). Once all those problems have been solved (and we know how much I love to solve problems) I’ll start the build.
To find out more about Clarke, visit his website.