In a collaboration between the Intermain joinery team and Melbourne designer Tim Fleming that launched at Saturday Indesign, the Two Hands project saw designer and joiners demonstrate the language of furniture making in an open process of experimentation and skills sharing. Initiated by Intermain founder Andrew Johnson and headed up by joiner Kenneth Christie, key to the project was revealing the team’s skills and understanding the potential of the machinery and technology within the workshop.

Made up of a multi-skilled team with varied backgrounds and experiences, including a cabinet maker who trained as a French polisher, the technology within the Intermain factory allows the joiners to push the offering with a new CNC machine that produces multiples alongside the one-off bespoke pieces. As a building company Intermain has always liked collaborating with clever people and Two Hands became a way to engage the team in something that would push their skills even further.

“What I liked about working with Tim was that we could show off our skills as well as do something in the art world that was different and would draw people in.” explains Andrew. “We found that designers and architects were really interested in the collaborative process we went through with Tim. The way you keep staff is bringing in new projects that are interesting. The people that we like to have here are those who love a challenge. If we are going to push the boundaries with projects we need those people in the factory. We do a lot of bespoke work which is more challenging, it keeps the brain ticking on how to solve the problem and how to build it. The guys really enjoy these projects and Two Hands was the perfect mix.”

While Tim had a collection of small scale pieces that he was eager to develop in size, it was essential for the joiners to nut out the structural possibilities in real time. Looking at the feasibility of scale, weight and height, while exploring the capabilities of the machinery, the possibilities of the materials and how far they could push the boundaries. Once the design had been documented, the process involved the joiners reinterpreting for the workshop team. Working things out together in a series of meetings with Tim in Sydney made the collaboration an easy one. Tic-tacking with one another on experience and know-how.

“I remember the brief was very open and I drafted some pretty outlandish concepts and as is often the way, the simplest form presented itself as the best solution.” remarks Tim. “The scale of the objects required some building challenges which required a very careful stacking of the hollow sections. It was a joy to watch the Intermain crew carefully build up the layers and to see the form take shape. The moment of truth was raising the hands into a vertical position and the wow factor was palpable, for the first time I could see my work at the scale I had always intended it to be.”