Every day our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. In our Fresh Shops series, we spotlight new and noteworthy sellers who have been on Etsy for a handful of months or are waiting for those first few sales.
One of the things that makes the Etsy community so interesting is the wide range of experience makers bring to their shops. We are happy to be a home for skilled artisans who’ve spent decades in the studio honing their craft; relative newbies whose passion for making has only just been set aglow; and creative professionals who use the site to test out side projects, incubate new ventures, and follow their personal artistic pleasure wherever it may lead.
It’s in this third category that we find the seller featured in this installment of Fresh Shops, the Australian furniture designer and New Talent award winner of 2014’s inaugural Etsy Design Awards, Carl Holder of Foreply. A full-time designer for a Sydney-based architecture and design firm, Carl launched his Etsy shop in June 2014 primarily as an outlet for experiments using repurposed plywood castoffs from a public art project he’d completed in his hometown of Coolum. “I just wanted to gauge interest in what I was designing and making, and to sell a few pieces to enable me to buy more materials to explore and prototype new designs,” Carl says. “I’d only just opened my shop when I noticed the call for entries [for the Etsy Design Awards] and thought, ‘Why not?'”
The gamble paid off. “Winning the award has given my store masses of exposure — I’ve gone from a few dozen visits in the first few weeks to literally thousands, with heaps of positive feedback from all over the globe, which has been very encouraging,” Carl says. That boost has convinced Carl to keep expanding his line, which currently consists of three complementary pieces: the Thingamabob, a table/bench hybrid with a hidden shelf; the mix-and-match Plus and Minus side tables; and the Capsule shelf, a handy wall-mounted catchall (more designs are being released imminently).
All of Carl’s designs are made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified hoop pine plywood and other local, sustainable timbers, which the designer cuts into component parts using a computer-controlled router, then assembles and finishes by hand. Giving equal weight to aesthetics and utility, Carl specializes in products that do more than just sit there; attractive built-in storage is a key element in many of his pieces. “I’m inspired by distinctive, well considered, pragmatic design — anything from art to architecture,” Carl says. “My Foreply pieces have been described as having a 1950s Scandinavian accent, so I guess subconsciously I draw on these influences, too.”
While broadening his product line is first on Carl’s agenda, the designer does have plans in the works for the future of Foreply. “In the long term, I’d like to find someone who shares my passion for distinctive, sustainable products who can help with the making and allow me to focus more on designing,” Carl says. “I’d also like to diversify and introduce other materials into the Foreply palette.” Just don’t expect him to quit his work with that Sydney firm anytime soon: it’s one of the primary sources of Carl’s motivation. “I get energized by bouncing ideas off friends in my day job,” he says.
Valerie Rains is an editor at Etsy.