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Turning a passion for design into a physical reality

Thom Port switches things up from graphic design to crafting bespoke furniture.


Thom Port’s Tasmanian-made creations have featured in places like Hobart's popular cafe Room for a Pony and the landmark boutique hotel Pumphouse Point afloat Lake St Clair.

While he has a reputation for crafting Tasmanian timber into things of beauty, Thom actually started at the University of Tasmania studying graphic design.

After a few semesters, he realised that it wasn’t a path he wanted to pursue.

But instead of dropping out of his Bachelor of Fine Arts, Thom made it work for him, switching subjects so he could focus more on furniture-making.

“I think it was being able to make something that has a real physical use,” says Thom about his mid-course switch.

“Just the hands-on nature of it appealed to me more as well. I like the physical type of work, rather than just sitting on a computer.”

I like being able to think of something and then, from that initial thought, take it right through to completion in terms of idea and form and physical production.

“That process – whatever you want to call it – is the thing that I like about it. Being able to take an idea or a part of an idea and turn it into something special and refined.”

While Thom’s an accredited carpenter by day, he works on his commissioned furniture in his own time.

That drive to keep improving and innovating is something that he credits to university.

Starting at the University of Tasmania set me off on a life-long process of learning new techniques and about materials. The teachers really instilled an appreciation of that kind of ongoing knowledge.

When it comes to materials, Thom’s a firm believer in local being better.

“I usually use Tasmanian oak. That’s my main timber because it’s pretty renewable in the way it’s grown and harvested,” says Thom.

“I’ve also been using a bit of the Hydrowood, which they pull out of the Hydro dams in the state’s west.”

“I just like using it because it supports industry here and is the most environmentally friendly way to source material – it makes sense.”

Make a future that matters studying Design or Fine Arts.