I got into woodworking after working as a
graphic designer for 15 years and I just found that I no longer had the passion for wanting
to sit behind a desk for the rest of my life. My name is Matt Wallace and I’m a furniture
maker and designer here in Ottawa. Woodworking had always appealed to me. I always
loved the idea of furniture design and construction. Coming into the field, I was totally blind
at it. I didn’t have the tools, I didn’t have the knowledge, I never took a class in
woodworking or anything like that so a lot of it was just asking a lot of questions to
people I looked up to in the design world, some makers on Instagram. It’s allowed me
to totally change my career and it’s been amazing.
So my furniture business is called Na Coille Studio and Na Coille is Gaelic for “of the
wood” and I specialize in live-edge furniture as well as modern pieces.
One of the things that I love working with wood the most is that it’s a natural product.
I work with local arborists. We’re sourcing local wood, we mill it, I dry it myself. All
of the wood that I do use is wood that would have been destined for either firewood or
the landfill I’m able to keep it out of the landfill and make beautiful pieces with
it. Today I’m working on a set of nightstands
made out of local walnut and they have a mid-century modern style to them. The tricky thing with
these nightstands is that they do have mitered edges: it’s folding grain, continuous grain
around the box and the drawers are all finger jointed. I like to challenge myself with the
continuous grain because it’s nice to keep the lines nice and tight and you’ll actually
have the grain as it wraps over the sides of the boxes.
So, in addition to my furniture business, I’m also the co-founder of the Ottawa City
Woodshop, which is a local community-based woodshop. We have roughly 30 members who are
in here four nights a week. The other hours are spent with courses and classes here at
the shop. A lot of our members are in the same position
that I was 10 years ago where they have been in a job that they’re maybe not totally
happy with and they’re looking for that creative outlet.
I think looking back over the last 10 years, this was the best thing I could have ever
done. I always loved being a graphic designer. I think that this has allowed me to step up
and do something still in the design world. It was definitely a risky move but there’s
definitely no way that I would ever go back and this has been absolutely amazing.