Family tree sustains future growth

Apr 24, 2020

Nicole Bittar


The goal of One Tree Studio is to transform sustainably sourced timber into quality, custom furniture.

Based in Brookfield, Queensland, the new-and-reclaimed timber furniture business, run by husband-and-wife Mike and Susan Stanger, prides itself on an uncompromising mantra: “if the timber’s not sustainably sourced, we won’t buy it.”

“Sustainably sourced timber is vital for our business, as we focus on making environmentally responsible furniture,” says One Tree Studio’s creative force, Susan. “We ensure all new timber and wood products (such as plywood) that we source are either FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or Responsible Wood (PEFC, Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certified. This is our guarantee that it comes from sustainably managed forests and is not contributing to the logging of old-growth forests.”

“We are serious about minimising the impact we have on climate change by creating environmentally responsible furniture,” says Susan. “To this end, we maintain a carbon-neutral business by offsetting all greenhouse gas-generating activities with tree planting. We purchase trees through a company that runs a plant-a-tree program. This business plants and maintains trees on our behalf. The planting sites are monitored by independent third parties and are legally protected for 100 years.”   

The bottom line relies not only in treating Mother Nature with the reverence and respect she deserves at One Tree Studio, but also in its quality design output.

“Compared to most other options, timber really is a great renewable material to use for building,” says Susan. “With its ability to sequester and store carbon, well-made furniture with a timeless design will store carbon, so-called biogenic carbon, for decades to come.”

Looks alone do not encapsulate the finished products, which are lovingly and assiduously crafted by Mike. Rather, forethought for future planning plays a defining design role. Mike and Susan believe that lessening heavy handedness with the raw material becomes a lesson for use in the creative process. 

“Timber is a hard teacher, so I would not say it is forgiving,” Mike says. “As timber expands and contacts so much due to changes in humidity from summer to winter, the design must allow for all the movement that the timber is going to experience. Over constrain it and furniture will slowly pull itself apart as the timber expands and contracts across the grain.

“Some furniture will change in size by up to 10mm over the seasons and this needs to be allowed for in the design. When properly designed to account for this movement, timber is an incredibly flexible material to work with.”

This visionary design approach allows the natural beauty of timber to shine for existing and future generations.

“The range of looks that can be achieved just by cutting the same timber in different directions is quite amazing,” Mike says. “For example, Oak can be plain sawn to show the standard cathedral-grain pattern, or it can be quarter sawn to show the classic Oak, medullary ray flecks.”

The practise of furthering timber’s ultimate renewability achieves maximum tangibility at One Tree Studio. In an era of increasing disposability, the proof is in the product. 

“There are few things that we purchase that bring us lasting satisfaction,” Susan says. “A piece of furniture that is handcrafted specifically for you: that you sit on; eat at; or touch as you walk by; can bring a delight and connection to nature that is often missing from our homes and workplaces.

“If the furniture draws you to touch or interact with it, if it makes you smile as you walk by, we have achieved our purpose.”