• Corner Block Studio – The Whole Story of this Creative Environmentalist

    November 7, 2017 • LIFE, STORIES

    Corner Block Studio - The Whole Story - Handmade in Australia with Love

    About Corner Block studio

    What do you get when someone is an industrial designer, artist and environmentalist? Well made, ethically and thoughtfully sourced materials and products from Corner Block Studio is what.

    Corner Block studio was started by aforementioned credentialed Natalie Lane in 2015 on a corner block (of course) of Brisbane. The beautiful products made at this ingenious local studio come from recycled wood and other environmentally sustainable materials. Corner Block Studio makes beautiful homewares that have minimal impact on the earth.

    We were intrigued to know how Natalie became inspired to start on this journey and the process and materials she uses to ensure that sustainable principles are at the forefront.

    Shop the Corner Block Studio range here >

    What were you doing before you started Corner Block Studio?

    Before founding Corner Block Studio in 2015, I was working as an Industrial Designer. This involves sketching, 3D modelling on a computer, prototyping, materials research and working with local and global manufacturers. At home, I was making gifts and creating art as a creative outlet. I would go camping, hiking and enjoy reading on weekends.

    Corner Block Studio - The Whole Story - Handmade in Australia with Love

    Corner Block Studio Book Frame

    How did Corner Block Studio start?

    Many designers share the dream of launching their own products. Once I developed our debut product, the Book Frame, I decided that it was my time to give it a shot.

    I was eager to work in a business where values of respecting the environment would be part of the company culture and would be a guiding light for decision making – so I started one.

    What lengths do you go to with sourcing timber for your frames?

    We source two groups of timbers for making our frames – recycled hardwood and new pine. We spent oodles of time with our noses in books (okay, computers), hands on timber and feet on field-trips to choose the right wood and the right sawmills to work with.

    For hardwood, we use only recycled timber. For pine, we source Queensland hoop pine from a well-managed and long-established plantation.

    Recycled timber is oh-so beautiful and durable. Using recycled timbers is not an easy option, it is an arduous task to reclaim old timbers from de-commissioned buildings such as bridges and old homes, and process them to premium quality standard. We choose to use it anyway because we think it’s important to protect our bush lands and forest. We work with experienced timber mills who access and process this reclaimed wood.

    We used certifications to help select our Queensland hoop pine, plus learnt the history of the sawmill and visited and surveyed the plantations. It’s fun when your research takes you on a camping trip.

    Corner Block Studio - The Whole Story - Handmade in Australia with Love

    Corner Block Studio Card Frame

    What timbers do you use and what makes them special?

    Our recycled hardwoods are classic Australian species, such as the dark chocolate coloured Ironbark and the beach-sand coloured Blackbutt. Each piece reveals characteristics of the timber’s former life, such as a pattern of small nail holes or a squiggle left by a creature. It’s a joy to discover these unique features as we make each frame.

    The Queensland Hoop Pine is a lovely, light colour with a smooth-to-touch finish. It’s predictable and well-behaved, which is a desirable quality in wood.

    Why is it important for you to use sustainable timber?

    It’s important to use sustainable timbers to keep old trees standing tall. Our forests and bushlands are complex and wonderful places and I want them to be protected and cherished.

    This is why we use recycled timber for our hardwood and support well-managed plantations for our softwood.

    We chose timber because it is a natural material that can be re-purposed or will decompose when the product reaches its end-of-life. It’s not energy-intensive to process, compared with alternatives such as plastic and metal. The net carbon dioxide intake of a Hoop Pine plantation is of great benefit.

    Corner Block Studio - The Whole Story - Handmade in Australia with Love

    Corner Block Studio Record Frame

    Where do you get your inspiration from for your designs?

    To kick-off a new design, I start with a problem, and use design thinking to solve it.

    For our Book Frame, this is the backstory – I returned from backpacking in India and printed my travel photographs into an album. At the time I thought it was the bees knees – a special collection of memories and portraits as a reminder of what I’d learnt from this rich culture. Years later, I found the album in the book shelf and was surprised at how few times I’d looked at it. I couldn’t pick out just a few photos to frame and display. I wished I could frame the whole album, and change the page anytime. Ah-ha!

    The Record Jacket Frame and Card Frame evolved from this design.

    What’s next for Corner Block Studio?

    Very soon, our range will grow to include a new design. A handful of prototypes are currently being tested in the homes of friends and customers. We’re gathering feedback, choosing materials, and getting ready to hand-make our first release. I’m itching to share it with everyone, so keep an eye out in 2018.

    What does being an environmentalist mean to you?

    I use this word to express that I am concerned about protecting the environment and also the welfare of other species on our planet. I act this out in my day-to-day choices, such as the food I eat, limiting waste, composting food and who I vote for. I use my business to share these values with other people – by being careful about materials choices and creating minimalist, long lasting designs.

    It’s an ongoing endeavour to find balance between living in our modern world and prioritising the safety of the environment and all species.

    Check out this page of our website to see other beautiful products from Corner Block Studio including record jacket frames and card frames.