Designer Spotlight: Anton Gerner lets his designs do the talking


Melbourne’s award-winning furniture craftsman Anton Gerner has been creating bespoke furniture pieces for nearly three decades. Incorporating elements of Art Deco, repetition and playing up the natural beauty and pattern of timber, Anton’s contemporary pieces are crafted to become family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation.

After month’s in the making, intricately working over the smallest of details using traditional by-the-hand methods, Anton is set to reveal his latest chest of drawers at the esteemed Studio Furniture 2018 exhibition in New South Wales. Showing off the dark and light tones from beautifully stained Hyrdowood Blackwood, the chest of drawers literally tells a story of its uncommon history.

Can you share the story behind this piece?

The chest of drawers sits at 1.5 meters high and features seven irregular hexagon shaped drawers. The darker stained Blackwood represents the depths of Tasmania’s Lake Pieman, where the timber hails from. The lighter Blackwood symbolizes the timber as it emerges from the water, getting a chance at a second life. When each of the drawers are opened, a voice recorded message will play, sharing a snippet of the story of Hydrowood. Including audio into furniture is something I’ve never done before, but I wanted to make sure that the story was shared.

Why did you choose Hydrowood for this piece?

I chose to use Hydrowood Blackwood for the exhibition piece to incorporate story into design. I was enthralled with the history behind Hydrowood and knew I had to make something special with the timber. The rarity of this timber and the journey it has been on to get into my workshop is extremely special.

How did you find the workability of Blackwood?

It was very easy to work with and behaved very similarly to other timbers I typically work with. As a craftsman using traditional methods to create heirloom pieces, the workability of a timber is very important, so I was pleased with the outcome and would love to use it again for future projects. 

Can you describe your design style?

Repetition is a key piece of my design aesthetic, whether it be seen in drawers, cabinets, handles etc. Playing up the natural beauty of timber and showing off the grain of the wood is always found in my furniture. The design ends up being quite contemporary, but the process in which it is crafted is very traditional. Some of the methods I may use include tenon joints, dovetails and hand-laying veneers, so it’s a really a labor of love.

What inspires you?

Having a bit of a photographic memory, I pick up on small details in design as I move throughout my day. I may be out for a walk and an element in an Art Deco architectural design will stick with me and I bring that back into my workshop and into my designs.

NewsSamuel Shelley