In the 1990’s, designer/maker Evan Dunstone worked for the world-famous Bungendore Wood Works Gallery. He was trained as a craftsman by gallery owner David MacLaren OAM. Evan ended up as the gallery’s workshop manager and exhibitions manager. When the gallery’s workshop tragically burned down in early 1998, Evan and Fenella Dunstone established Dunstone Design in a workshop in Queanbeyan.
Like many first attempts at small business, things were tough. After a year of struggle, Evan realized that he was a capable maker and a promising designer, but he knew very little about the business of wood working. He moved in to the workshop of Uneke Furniture in Bungendore and made all their chairs as a sub-contractor. He also made his own commissions on the side.
The owner of Uneke furniture, Gerry Olah, has a deep understanding of the business of making furniture. Evan learned an incredible amount from Mr Olah about how to run a commercially viable workshop. When, in 2004, Evan and Fenella left Uneke and established their new workshop in Queanbeyan, it was with a very different understanding of the business of craft woodwork.
In 2009, Dunstone Design opened its own showroom in Fyshwick, ACT. In 2015 Dunstone Design consolidated their workshop and showroom in to their present location in Queanbeyan.
Between 2008 and 2015, custom-made furniture very nearly died in Australia. Many of the “Old Guard” either closed their doors or changed their businesses to such an extent that they were practically unrecognizable. Iconic larger Australian furniture brands, such as Davis furniture in Melbourne, closed their doors for the last time. The Australian School of Fine Furniture in Launceston and the Dwellingup School of Fine Wood closed. The Australian Crafts Council was de-funded. University courses that once taught craftsmanship suddenly became design schools. Master craftsman resorted to teaching woodworking enthusiasts to survive. Dunstone Design is one of only a hand-full of workshops that survived solely by making and selling contemporary fine furniture.
These days, Dunstone Design has become a cornerstone of the Studio Furniture movement in Australia. The makers at Dunstone Design are among the most respected craftsmen in the country. Many emerging craftsmen look to the Dunstone Design example when considering how to find their own way in the industry. With both “hand-made” and “Australian made” fashionable again, Dunstone Design is one of the very few businesses that can look back over 20 years of success and experience.