Shelter Within

Duncan Young

Adelaide, Australia | Wood: hard maple

Duncan Young is a furniture maker and climbing arborist currently working as an Associate at the JamFactory in Adelaide, Australia. Young’s design practice is deeply tied to his work climbing trees, a connection and appreciation which he hopes to share through his furniture. He works to save trees from the mulch pile and instead make them into pieces of fine furniture. Young has exhibited across Australia in 2020 and won awards at both Craft Victoria and the Australian Design Centre.

‘A big part of my reflection on the brief for Discovered from AHEC was about being grateful for my situation and being exposed to what a lot of close friends and family were going through. Then I started thinking about what was important to me and a big part of that was connecting with nature.’
  • The design process

    For his piece, Young focused on the materiality of timber, and how this organic material can help us connect with nature while confined at home. ‘For those in dense urban environments, lockdowns have impacted our physical and mental strength by limiting the biological need humans have for being in outdoor spaces,’ he says.

  • The making of the final piece

    Featuring a solid carcass with discreet joinery and a moiré-effect shelf (a design inspired by the historic symbolism of the cabinet as a theatre), the simple plinth includes two glass sculptural elements handmade at Young’s studio, refracting and distorting the light to evoke the effect of walking beneath a canopy of trees. Young used hard maple to create the carcass. ‘It’s such a pared-back timber,’ he explains. ‘It has a gentle grain structure and I thought the lightness would soften the heaviness of my piece’s form.’ 

  • The end result

    In response to studies analysing the positive impact of nature on physical and mental health, Young decided to create a modern cabinet of curiosities as a pillar to nature, in an attempt to bring the outdoors in – hence the title Shelter Within. ‘I was thinking about friends stuck in apartments where they had no outdoor space for months on end. I was trying to create a church of nature that you could have in your house.’