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Maker Of The Year Winner – Wei Wu Q&A


We were excited to sit down and speak with Wei Wu who comes from Beijing, China, fresh to the culture of Melbourne and most notably the Winner of the Maker of the Year Awards 2023 in two categories: Chests, Cabinets & Boxes and Overall maker Of The Year!

His piece ‘the Ming Noir Cabinet’ was a standout, with the piece only being joined by only two screws. Wei speaks about his use of Mortise-Tenon Connection demonstrated on the Cabinet and other work, teaching us some valuable lessons about woodworking. He emphasises the importance of putting love into the work you do and reflecting it onto your wood to speak to it’s ‘uniqueness and character’.

If woodworking was a language, Wei Wu has it mastered.

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? You mentioned you only recently moved to Melbourne, what made you choose this city?

I come from Beijing, the capital city of China, where ancient and modern arts and cultures blend well. I enjoyed working as a product designer there for over 20 years, particularly in my design studio and woodwork workshop in a prominent art area.

Because of work, I was able to travel around the world. I found Melbourne was very close to my heart. Not only because of its multicultural atmosphere, rich tapestry in cultures, arts and traditions just like Beijing, but also because of the warmness and kindness of people and the community. The pace of life here is also beautiful, not too slow, not too crazy, so I have plenty of time and space to reflect and create, to experience different things and meet interesting people. One of my favorite parts of Melbourne is that I met many talented designers, wood artists and craftsmen here. Exploring and communicating with them is a unique and very inspiring experience for me.

Congratulations on Maker of The Year! Your piece, The Ming Noir Cabinet won first place. Why did you want to enter this piece in particular?

Thank you very much. I’m also happy that Ming Noir won the first place. It’s such a perfect mixture of the elegant Chinese Ming Dynasty design and locally sourced recycled Tasmanian Oak wood. I believe what I wanted to express in my design was fully revealed in Ming Noir. Nothing is parallel. 

The wood review article mentions The Ming Noir Cabinet, “The beauty of this design lies in the seamless joining of the frame and the chest with just two screws.” Do the other pieces you make have similar joinery techniques?

That’s correct. Most of my furniture works use Mortise-Tenon Connection, a traditional woodworking joint technique to join two pieces of wood at a right angle. This technique is known for its strength and durability. As a designer, I particularly like its ability to provide a clean and aesthetically pleasing finish.

However, I won’t limit myself to any specific technique or form. I always enjoy finding the most optimal structural solution for my design, to give an example, I had customised a three-metre narrow table for a temple. Since the long table won’t transport as a whole, I designed a two-cast-bronze-leg connection module. Only with four screws, the legs are joined with the tabletop. Not just the overall strength and stability is enhanced, but transportation issue is easily solved.

Where do you draw your woodworking and joinery inspiration from?

I would say that I was most influenced by ancient furniture of Song and Ming Dynasty. These are the two pivotal dynasties in Chinese art and furniture evolution. Furniture from these eras reflect extremely high aesthetic standard and fine craftsmanship, as well as use of high-quality materials. Clean and simple elegance through understated forms and balanced proportions are my design principles. As for joinery, Ming furniture is renowned for its intricate joinery techniques, and I learned a lot from it.

What can we expect to see from you in the future? Are there any upcoming projects or goals you’re excited about?

I am never exhausted with new ideas and inspirations.

Since many people appreciated Ming Noir, I plan to design a series of furniture using the same design language to allow people to have the full taste and experience of the oriental aesthetics. A 1.95m high shelf has been finished recently, and more work can be expected in the near future. The next exciting goal would be to set up my own design studio and wood workshop in Melbourne. I look forward to the opportunity to communicate and exchange experiences with local designers and wood craftsmen. Meanwhile, I will continue to introduce Oriental design and aesthetics to Australia, and vice versa; Australian techniques and aesthetics back to China.


Could you share with us how you developed your skills and expertise?

I received my academic and professional training in Industrial design in China. Woodworking is my interest and I self-studied almost everything from all kinds of sources. People say interest is the best teacher. I am very lucky to totally enjoy what I do. I never stopped developing my skills and expertise in these two areas.

Are there specific forums, events, or communities that have been valuable to you as a woodworker in Melbourne?

Definitely. Melbourne is very robust in terms of woodworking events and activities. I really enjoy being part of this strong community and connecting with like-minded people.

Victorian Woodworkers Association (VWA) is a wonderful community that hosts a variety of events and activities periodically. There you can share your passion for wood craftsmanship, skills, tools, traditions, and many other things. I gained valuable insights of the local wood industry in VWA.

Greenwood is also my strong interest. Crafting something by one’s own hands and hand tools, rather than with a machine can be very challenging but also fascinating. I was lucky to be introduced to the Melbourne’s Chopping Club by a good friend.  We meet regularly to work on green wood projects. I am always inspired by talented woodworkers demonstrating their passions, skills and knowledge.

Lastly, what advice would you give to someone looking to get into woodworking?

Woodworking is not just about wood and working. It is not even just about tools, skills, and techniques. It’s about finding your inner self and carrying it to rarefied heights with this quiet but rich material of the nature. You will have to have passion for it. It will make your woodwork joyous and pleasurable rather than tiring and dirty. Love what you do.  Feel the wood with your heart and treat it with care. Each piece of wood has a soul. Immerse yourself and you will hear them speaking of their unique characters and beauty. 


After spending some time with Wei and his outlook on the craft of woodworking, it’s evident that his win was well deserved in Maker Of The Year Awards. You can read the full article about Wei Wu’s winning entry ‘the Ming Noir Cabinet’ here.

Carbitool would personally like to thank Wei for sharing some wisdom on what brings all of us wood workers together – passion and love for what you do!