Style Curious


Curiously inventive designer-maker, Graham Marjanovic

“My work brings together a lifetime’s worth of tinkering, experimenting, woodworking, wood turning and electronics," explains Graham Marjanovic. Experience means Marjanovic is able to visualize how materials behave and how to shape and fit together the individual components to make his beautifully handcrafted pieces. He feels he’s lucky to be “able to create flowing curves and shapes that look just right.” He sees his lack of formal training in design as an advantage – his ideas have evolved naturally. “That’s why my work looks fresh – I’m not bound to any accepted practice or conditioning,” he says.

Graham became a designer about two years ago when he decided to switch from a career in printing. Searching for an outet for his creativity, his original plan was to make a living as a sculptural wood turner. However, he found himself drawn to invention – and now works as a designer-maker, with the emphasis very much on design.

His aim is to create pieces that are timeless in both form and function. He’s also fanatical about sustainability and insists that all the materials he uses are ethically sourced, with no short cuts to drive up profits. “For me it’s not about money, but rather earning enough to live well with, while doing something I love,” he says. He even invests 10% of all his profits back into tree planting – to help the environment, and bring full circle each tree’s journey from felling to rebirth.

Curiously, Graham often asks customers if they'd like to stroke his organic wooden sculptures – but he’s really no need, as the Danish oil style finish makes them tactile enough to want to reach out and touch… He loves the idea of his work becoming a small, but enjoyable, part in a day of the lives of the clients he’s creating things for.

Each of Graham’s designs is handmade, with the majority of the shaping being achieved on a wood turning lathe. Certain ranges such as his Timber-lits are individually unique and he tries to accentuate the natural swirls in the English hardwood used. The final shape of his Obe-lts and Spottys is also handcrafted, so no two are ever alike. These subtle differences make the resulting sculptures interesting – even a matching pair, although appearing to be the same shape, will never be exactly identical.

A curious fact is that Graham's inspiration came from the shape of the stylized Obelisks made by Obelix as part of his Menhir delivery business in the Asterix and Obelix comics. He'd originally intended to just make sculptures using solid tree trunks (as he still does), but his girlfriend asked if he could make them light up. This resulted in the unique LED lighting features that have become his trademark designs.

He’s obviously into his humour, because Graham also admires Gary Larson… And, when he’s not working, he enjoys relaxing in the English countryside. “I’m lucky to be on the borders of 4 counties - Surrey, East and West Sussex and Kent, with the Ashdown forest only a short drive away,” he says, “you can’t beat the English countryside for beauty and variety.” Even in London, he’d choose to stay in and around Hampstead, where he loves the views from the Heath.

In future, he’d like to be commissioned to “create an avenue of 6 foot Obe-lits that lead to something special," or have them as marker points in a terraced garden where they would not only be enjoyed as sculptures, but also provide some much welcome light on dark nights.” He rather fancies the idea of plants enveloping them, and growing up and around the lamps, which all sounds very romantic. Thanks Graham, for making us see wooden lamps in a whole new light…