Honed&Hewn is a new home-wares and lifestyle brand made up of partners in design and life Dan Szpytko and Maggie Warrell. You'll know Maggie from her jewellery brand Postpress Design, she has now teamed up with her partner Dan to bring you Honed&Hewn. Honed&Hewn began with those beautiful handmade coffee tamps you might remember from our 2017 Autumn Popup. They have now branched out into some new designs such as wooden wall hooks and stunning mid-century plant stands in collaboration with Jude Keogh, one of our resident ceramicists. While they both design the products, Dan has all the technical knowledge and know-how to get the products made with the highest possible quality. We spoke with one half of Honed&Hewn Dan Szpytko about the new design brand.
Tell us about your background and training.
I grew up at Burrendong Dam (my folks still live out there) and moved to Sydney to do an apprenticeship in tool making. Tool making is like fitting and machining but specialises in the building of moulds, casting dies and forming dies for the mass production of plastic and metal components -anything from drink bottles and pie trays to car parts and wheelie bins.
My dad introduced me to woodworking as a kid and I’ve always enjoyed building things, which led me to a career building things, almost exclusively in metal. Honed&Hewn is a way of applying the skills I’ve learnt machining, welding and shaping metals in new ways. Adding timber to the mix makes it feel a lot less like “work”.
Aside from the TAFE course for my trade, I haven’t done any other formal training but I’m always learning on the job or reading about techniques new to me. During the 10 years I lived in Sydney I met my partner Maggie (aka Postpress) who is also my personal design critic and other half of Honed&Hewn.
You have been making things like furniture for your home for a while now, what made you decide to start designing products for commercial sale?
My first pieces of furniture were concepts from Maggie. Things she could describe to me but couldn’t find in any shop. While working on these early designs we discovered that our skills and strengths were really complimentary, and that we had a great collaborative working relationship (convenient!), and that we’d both like to do this ‘for real’ - one day.
The decision to start making to sell happened as I was making a few coffee tampers for gifts and Maggie suggested they would be a nice fit with The Journey Person markets. This turned out to be something of a gateway product, and we’ve since started working on a range of new designs – in varying stages of progress in terms of concept and development – which we hope to continue. Although I have typically been more involved in the manufacturing side, and Maggie in the design side, these roles are blurring and crossing over more and more as Honed&Hewn develops. For now though, the majority of Honed&Hewn products you will find at The Journey Person Pop Ups are designed and manufactured by me.
Talk us through your design process. Do you sketch out the designs or does it all come from your head?
I almost always draw my designs, either as hand sketches or 3D computer models. The process of creating an image of an idea helps me sort out the details and plan how to build it. My background in engineering is often problem solving and creating something for a specific need.
Which Australian brands and designers are you influenced by?
I can’t pin down any particular designers who influence my work, however the aesthetic that is developing for Honed&Hewn definitely nods to mid-century and industrial design. I am drawn to furniture and object design that celebrates simplicity of form and honesty of materials. The products I’m designing are by no means reinventing the wheel, however I like to introduce unconventional or unexpected details that become a defining feature.
Tell us what you love about living in Orange.