The Arboretum is a creative design studio situated in rural Sussex - and is focused on making small wooden, abstract interpretations of tree forms called... well, Trees of course!
It all starts with an appreciation for the natural beauty of wood. If you're like us, then you may have the tendency to collect natural objects like shells, pine cones or fossils and take them home to put on display. Wood isn't always pocket-sized and refined like these items but after a little work on the lathe, you end up with this perfectly, formed, solid piece of wood that is both tactile and visually pleasing from every angle. Experimenting with small wooden off-cuts, we began making simple tree-like forms that developed into more intricate interpretations as our skills grew. Soon we had a whole Arboretum's worth of Trees.
Our Trees are fun little home ornaments, kids playthings, desk toys or just tactile wooden objects. They don't have a specific purpose and that's ok. They are a celebration of the natural beauty of timber and an outlet of creativity. Each Tree is unique and beautiful in its own way and we're sure you will enjoy having them sprout up all over your home!
The studio was set up by friends and furniture makers Josh and Oli who also established Forge Creative in 2013. As Forge Creative the duo design and make high-quality furniture such as tables and cabinets as well as small homewares like salt and pepper mills and chopping boards. This same level of craft is applied to the Arboretums products, but with a slightly more playful touch.
We love The Arboretum! It's a space where we get to explore a very childlike sense of creativity. Young or old we hope you get caught up in this cheerful world allow us to inspire your imagination.
We do not recommend that Trees are given to very young children (ages 0-3). The Trees are finished with friction polish which while it makes the Trees look great but is not food safe and so shouldn't be chewed on. Also, although we do make sure none of the Trees are too sharp, some of the pointed shapes are still unsuitable for young people and care should be taken.
If you would like a set of Trees that would be suitable for Forest building with young ones please let us know. You can leave a note at the checkout or send us a message before placing an order. We will make sure any pointed Trees are more rounded off at the top and finish them with a food-safe Osmo oil.
Our Trees are made using a woodturning lathe. This machine firmly holds a piece of wood and then spins it at fast speeds. We can then use a range of long-handled tools to carve and shape the wood into all sorts of cylindrical objects such as chair legs, bowls, door handles, and most importantly Trees. It's an interesting process to see so from time to time we will post photos or videos on Instagram to help you feel close to the action.
We are really into trying new techniques, using different materials and discovering new things we can create. One example of this is the Tree 65 project we set up on Instagram. In this project, we took on the challenge of designing a different Tree every day for a whole year. Although we are practiced in woodwork we used Tree 65 as an excuse to experiment with different materials such as concrete, brass, steel and even mud. We also used it as a chance to experiment with other techniques that didn't always use the lathe. The project has ended now but it was a really great way to push ourselves creatively and as a bonus, it lead to some of the Tree shapes we sell today. We will continue to try new things and regularly add new and exciting products to The Arboretum shop. Click here to see all the shapes we made on the Tree 65 Instagram page.
From the moment I picked up my first set of tools I knew that it was the right thing for me to be doing, I love the freedom of woodworking, having a blank canvas in front of you and being able to bring an idea to life is incredibly satisfying and working with such a tactile and varied material makes our work so enjoyable.
I've always enjoyed being creative and using my hands to make things. It's something that is built deep within my nature. In college I studied 3D design and absolutely loved having the opportunity to work with different materials such as wood, metal and ceramics. After this I moved onto graphic design which I also really enjoyed. I got to continue being creative but missed working with my hands and the interaction with materials. When I started working with Josh and started making Trees this brought me back to my happy place. The Trees are the perfect combination of working with solid materials while being creative with simple graphic shapes.
When I was younger I always knew I was a practical person and was always making things in my spare time. The in secondary school I did work experience with a local Joiner and instantly fell in love with woodwork. After completing an apprenticeship I found myself pursing a career in furniture making. I took a furniture making course at chichester college which led me to a job working with Forge Creative.