What other treatment does the wood receive?
Mark: Kiln-dried wood is great for furniture because the grain is straight, and it won’t bend—it’s almost perfect. We’ll often use a really interesting piece of air-dried wood, with a curved grain and wonderful color, as a top surface. And last summer, we started learning lacquer work—our pieces for Toast include lacquerware.
Kaori: We use natural lacquer, which takes seven to eight layers. It’s a traditional lacquer technique that isn’t as well-known. It has to be the right temperature and it has to be humid to dry.
Mark: It feels good because it’s natural—you’re putting a bit of tree onto a tree. It’s completely waterproof.
How do you find working as a couple?
Mark: We don’t always agree on what we should do, but that makes the finished piece even better. It isn’t just one person’s point of view. I do my part and then hand it over to Kaori and she’ll finish it. It might not be what I would have done, but it ends up much better. I do all the woodturning and Kaori does most of the chisel work. She doesn’t want to turn!
Kaori: I think it’s a bit too dangerous. I can be quite silly!
Have you introduced your children to woodworking?
Mark: When I was growing up, I was surrounded by wood. My dad was a self-taught cabinet maker. Sometimes our children will be into it and other times they get bored really quickly. Our daughter made a tray and chopsticks, with guidance from us.
Kaori: The children make a competition out of it. If our son does better, our daughter gets really frustrated. Since our youngest has gone off to school, Mark and I have more time to work together.
How does it feel being part of the New Makers program?
Kaori: Even when we did our first stand at a craft festival, I thought “We’ve made it.” So, I’m so grateful we’re involved in this. Mark—what’s our goal? You say it!
Mark: To have more people know about what we make and to know that they enjoy using the stuff we make—that’s the best thing.
This is the first in a new series of profiles produced in partnership with Toast to mark the launch of the New Makers program; a long-term initiative to support emerging makers and foster contemporary craftsmanship. Takahashi McGil is one of five designers taking part in the New Makers program alongside Alexandra Hewson, House of Quinn, Nicholas Shurey and Blue Firth.