James Vaughan grew up on the leafy North Shore of Sydney and had a wonderful childhood tearing about the bush reserves and exploring the Lane Cove River as though it was the Amazon.
He attended UNSW in the early 1980s, where he received a Diploma of Education in Visual Art. He majored in Ceramics, with minors in Design & Textiles. He worked as an Art Teacher for several years and at the age of 26 moved to Hobart, Tasmania where he quickly became involved with the design community.
In the early 1990s, James formed a company with two other makers and created a range of cast aluminium furniture with a strong industrial, Steam Punk, look. He secured a teaching position at The Friends’ School and in
many ways, was the architect of that emerging teaching space at this progressive Quaker school. For three consecutive years, students from his senior classes won the top creative award for their work across all the senior colleges in Tasmania. During these years as a teacher, James spent much of his time driving to Tasmania’s West Coast and sourcing some of the States most beautiful timber from local mills and salvagers.
His furniture practice very much mirrors his working life. Coming from a visual arts background, his design concerns are primarily sculptural. He draws tremendous inspiration from Architectural form and the wide range of materials and techniques he has spent so many years mastering. Hence his work oscillates from doing extraordinary building work, to making unique furniture pieces, to teaching.
His furniture falls into one of two ‘camps’. The first is pragmatic, calm designs that aim to take advantage of the beautiful timber he has access to. The second area involves more creative pieces, typically using a combination of materials and often featuring an intentional ambiguity. Think furniture facades you can play with, or drawer fronts that become invisible when they are closed.
In 2005, James & his wife Kristen purchased 20 acres of fertile river-flat pasture in Nicholls Rivulet, 40 minutes south of Hobart. The property is surrounded by established eucalypt forest and has the rivulet weaving through its centre. He has spent years building a unique workspace and gallery, responding to and honouring the incredible surroundings.
This space is now open to the public! People can visit and in a breathtakingly beautiful environment, learn the crafts of cabinetmaking and thanks to James’ 30 years of teaching experience, come away from a workshop with some very impressive, tangible results.