Q&A No. 1
Lior Morsky, Joiner, Touchwood
INTERVIEW BY MATTHEW KENNEDY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM ROSS
Founded by Lior Morsky, Melbourne-based studio Touchwood crafts distinct custom-made cabinetry and joinery. Boutique in scale, Touchwood is guided by an innovative research and development process that distinguishes the business from other cabinet makers, and draws on Lior’s colourful background in trade jobs and cooking.
TOUCHWOOD seems to share the same ‘Crafted’ ethos as Shustin. Can you describe your process, and how it resonates with Shustin’s design vision for Hudson Green?
I like to work with steel, solid timber, leather and glass, but I always try to think outside the box—seeking out new materials, technologies and processes. Working with Shustin on Hudson Green was a pleasure, as they have a similar respect for and understanding of the significance of artisanal joinery.
Being a small team of three designers and two draftsmen/project managers gives us the flexibility to tackle the most complicated architectural jobs. All jobs are completed using a combination of software and technology, and a strong team on the floor who have the skill and crafting expertise to tackle complicated jobs that are of true artisan quality. We also run our own team of installers to ensure every detail is perfect.
Could you tell us a bit about your background? What drew you to this kind of work and when did you start?
I’m a construction civil engineer by trade, with strong passions for design, cooking and technology. I began my career working in our family’s business, which was in the metal industry and involved sub-contracting for car manufacturers and the army (back in Israel). After that, I went to work for my father-in-law, who was a builder. He decided that for me to become a good builder, I’d need to study engineering and get experience working in the trades. So he got me working with a plumber, electrician, carpenter, brick layer, and tiler. So for four years I worked on building sites in the morn-ing, then studied engineering at night. Looking back, this was the best gift anyone could have given me. It wasn’t easy—especially with having young kids—but it was worth it. Eventually I decided to move my family to Australia.
My mother is a chef and so was my great-grandmother, so cooking was always in the family. My grandfather was a cabinet maker, and as a kid I always liked to play and build stuff in his work-shop, which was located behind his house. When I came to Australia, 17 years ago, I worked as a cabinet maker for a small business and fell in love with the trade. I started my business after a year in Australia—and I haven’t looked back since.
How have those years of experience shaped your work?
The background in civil engineering and cooking has definitely made me who I am today. I’ve always been driven by innovation, and I find that everything I’ve done in my life has contributed to who I am now.
What drives you to specialise in custom made joinery? Is it simply a passion for the making process? Or is it more about the outcome (the final product) and how that fits within a broader context?
For me, the process is very important. I get lots of satisfaction from thinking about a project, then creating it through problem solving. Growing up, I never asked my parents to buy me anything—I always tried to build it first. Early on I built a skateboard, then a surfboard, and then, when I got old-er, motorcycles. I was never interested in mass production and quantities, I always looked at the finer details and appreciated the craftsmanship. Being just another cabinet maker was never my thing.
Are there any particular materials or technologies that you prefer to work with? If so, what are they, why do you enjoy them, and how are they sourced and delivered to your work-space?
I prefer to work with materials like timber, steel, leather and glass. I love the feel of solid timber, the heaviness of steel, and the smell of leather. In Australia, we’re very lucky. We have plenty of everything—despite being isolated from the world. But if I can’t get a material, then I make it! I have a 3D printer and I actually print parts regularly that I can’t source. Over the years I’ve developed 13 different aluminium extrusions, which I use for my kitchens. Each of these started with a 3D-printed model. This is all part of Touchwood’s research and development process.
Could you talk us through the materials that were selected for Hudson Green, and how you used them to transform the design into reality? Was it a challenge to achieve some of the clients’ highly particular requests?
Hudson Green relied on using top-quality materials, with emphasis on durability and strength. Shustin didn’t compromise on anything. Working with them, it never felt like I was dealing with a developer that was after a quick and easy solution. It was more like working with people who wanted to build their dream home. Most of the clients interested in this project are in the second half of their life, and are looking to downsize to their last home; with that in mind, we worked to make sure that every detail was highly considered and would function in the long-term.