“Some pieces of wood have a destination. It’s written on them. If you can follow that, then it’s rewarding,” says Netherlands-born Adrian van den Ouweland,
Adrian knows a thing or two about timber. He is a fine-wood custom furniture maker. His shop, Treeton Fine Wood Studio, in Cowaramup, Western Australia, is filled with Adrian’s creations, but his emergence was humble. “I read a lot about woodworking and started out making outdoor furniture 30 years ago. I had been on holiday here and had seen the timber,” says Adrian. “It was very simple beginnings. I was doing work out of the back shed with a lot of trial and error.”
Adrian’s gallery includes dining room tables, cabinets, dressers, coffee tables and just about anything else. His work takes into account the shape of the tree he is working with and often follows its natural path or curve. He started showing his work in Perth and in the local galleries, then opened his own place. He has sold to buyers from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Germany, England, France, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada and the U.S.
Photo of Adrian outside of his workshop
His woodworking shop in back is filled with tools, machines, stacks and stacks of Australia wood and many works in progress. Adrian works with a multitude of woods, which he often incorporates in his pieces. “I love the combination of the dark panels and the lighter Jarrah. The grain pattern is very pronounced in the Australian eucalypt timbers. It’s different from anything else you find,” says Adrian. “There is a huge variety within Jarrah or within Marri, they’re just spectacular.”
After 30 years of woodworking, Adrian has decided it’s time to retire and sell his business. “It’s getting harder to get quality timber, especially Marri. There will also be a scramble for the last quality Jarrah (due to a state ban on cutting trees beginning in 2024),” says Adrian.
Adrian is a full-time resident on Molloy Island in Western Australia, where new homebuilders are required to clear a certain amount of trees on their property to reduce the risk of wildfire. But many of those felled trees are undervalued. He says, “Big Jarrahs -you don’t see many of them as you see on the island, so it’s pretty unique. It’s a shame lots of people cut them up for firewood. Some of those trees are old but very usable.”
Adrian will eventually be selling off the equipment that had allowed him to make the big pieces. He says, “I’ll probably think, ah, I wish I would have made this or that once I retire. I love seeing a piece of wood and having an idea of what to do with it – no order, just my own idea,” says Adrian. “That’s fun and the best part of woodworking.”