James Mudge grew up on a farm on the famous Garden Route – a lush, wooded coastal area of south- eastern South Africa. Knysna, where James was born, has a long-standing history of woodcutters and woodworkers due to its naturally occurring forests and its abundant resources of natural and farmed wood. His family come from a line of woodworkers, furniture makers, artists and engineers.
From an early age, James was exposed to the entire process of the business and artistry of woodworking; he cites his father has his earliest creative influence. A born entrepreneur, as a child, James was making things in the family workshop and selling them to vacationers. It was only a matter of time before he founded his own studio.
James Mudge started his studio in Cape Town in 2006 and it provides bespoke and customized, hand-made, solid-wood furniture to its clients around the world. The small, highly-skilled team of artisans exclusively use traditional cabinet making methods and techniques to craft their pieces. We love to see the tight-knit team at work in their studio:
Most of the James Mudge furniture collection is made from solid, sustainable hardwoods, primarily American White Oak, American Ash, American Walnut and French Oak. They also use Iroko from Central Africa for both outdoor and indoor furniture. All the solid wood is sourced from sustainable FSC approved sources.
In pursuit of retaining the integrity of the natural resource, the team seal timber with either a water-based, environmentally sustainable lacquer or an environmentally friendly oil that is locally manufactured and contains only natural ingredients. Finishes are kept discreet and natural looking.
Rather than entombing the wood in sealants, James Mudge takes the approach that less is more. Solid wood is a living resource that can always be refinished and wear and tear is an organic part of its natural patina. The furniture comes with instructions for care and the team are always on hand to offer advice.
James says that the most rewarding part of his work is perfecting a design, from the precision of the cut to the smooth finished product. He takes pleasure in knowing that the designs he creates will last as long, if not longer, than the time it took the timber to grow.
Amongst his favorite pieces are the Pick Up Sticks Server (above, winner of an Elle Décor Designer of the Year Award) and the Log Server (below). He feels these perfectly reflect the essence of his design ethos.
We love the ethos of this studio; the combination of modern design and classic techniques, the focus on sustainability and the timelessness of the resulting pieces. They truly are heirloom treasures that can be passed from one generation to the next. We love to see the beauty of solid wood brought to the fore and to think of it aging gracefully in your home.
All images courtesy of James Mudge Furniture Studio@jamesmudgefurniturestudio