By Joseph Hutt –
Stroll down Wellington West and you will find a number of shops devoted to locally sourced foods and craft beers, clothing and works of art. While this may seem all-encompassing, Gareth Davies is trying to fill a void he has found in this community of makers.
“There’s all these great sites for things like craft jewellery [and other local goods],” Gareth explains. “I felt that for some reason furniture hadn’t received that same treatment yet.”
With this in mind, Gareth opened the doors to Maker House Co. in November 2015. From that moment, the shop has served as a place to showcase and sell myriad works of local craftsmanship, from smaller pieces of decorative woodwork to large pieces of furniture wrought from reclaimed wood and metals.
“There’s been an amazing [artisanal] scene happening, especially in Ottawa, which is like an epicentre of activity for craft shows,” says Gareth. “[So] I thought this was a great opportunity to fill a space that’s just been yearning for something.”
With two thousand square feet and a storefront on Wellington West, Gareth could content himself with maintaining a charming showroom, but like many businesses in the area, he hopes to build Maker House into an “interactive” experience.
With events and workshops being planned, Maker House can help connect people with the talented makers Gareth hosts.
His next event on December 11 will be a throw back to the heritage of Ottawa and woodworking in the Kitchissippi area, with a workshop following on December 13 where people can learn to make their own wooden and rubber stamps.
While Gareth does source work from as far away as Montreal, he makes a point of drawing from a number of local artisans including Up’Dated Furniture, Krate, Darling Yes, Ottawa City Woodshop, and Split Tree Cocktails.
Carly Smith of Darling Yes is particularly enthusiastic about Gareth’s efforts.
“I love the fact that Gareth has organized a venue for local makers to showcase their work,” says Carly. “Gareth is also very good at making sure that artisans are also featured as part of Maker House, and it gives good context to each maker’s collection.”
“That’s the key,” Carly says, “to connect [people] to the meaning and the process behind each piece, and to have access to those pieces that are made with that intention.”
Andrew Bell, co-founder of local design workshop Krate, also appreciates the direction Gareth’s venture is taking; however, he’d like to see the maker community go even further. Andrew would like shoppers to realize that many makers specialize in custom work and that buyers aren’t limited to what they see on a display floor.
While Gareth may only have a three month lease for his current location (it will come up for renewal at the end of January), he is optimistic when it comes to staying on Wellington.
“This neighbourhood has a great culture and a big connection to the craft movement,” he affirms. “People here look for a creative alternative to the mainstream.”
Already surrounded by the works of many talented makers, Gareth confidently states that he’s “only just scratched the surface” in regards to what he’s planning to bring into the shop.
“There is a person behind every piece in this store,” says Gareth.
He also believes Maker House Co. appeals to the socially responsible nature of the community, as two per cent of profits go to non-profits like the Ottawa Tool Library.