Sculptor Lucas Wearne's Melbourne Home Is a Plant-Filled Oasis
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the home of sculptor and Neighbourhood Studio founder Lucas Wearne.
From his garden studio, Lucas Wearne hand carves limestone sculptures that double as functional works of art. Picasso-esque plinths moonlight as lamps and side tables, whilst chiselled vessels house potted plants.
As the founder of Neighbourhood Studio, Lucas—who has a background in landscape architecture and jewellery design—first began building furniture as a way to procure the pieces he couldn’t afford. But his craftmanship garnered him a swelling customer base online, and within a few short years, he began carving works of wonder from stone.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to hone your creative skills than Lucas’s Thornbury home and studio. Inside, vibrant works by local artists hang from the walls, whilst mid-century modern furniture features throughout.
An earthy warm palette runs through the space, whilst in every room, greenery sprouts from psychedelic pots and planters of his own making. In the bedroom, rich rust and turmeric tones surround a custom wooden bedframe with an inbuilt shelf—the perfect home for a sculpture or two.
But it’s what lies out back that Lucas is most proud of—a landscaped garden and entertainment area that also serves as his workspace. Eclectic, inviting, and full of character, this Melbourne abode perfectly reflects the artist who brought it to life.
Hi Lucas! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
Hello! I make functional, sculptural objects, hand-carved from Australian limestone. Limestone is a natural material that often has fossilised fragments of marine organisms in it which makes it super unique and special.
How does the act of ‘making’ relate to you personally and who you are?
I have always been a maker, ever since I was a kid. I’ve always been fascinated with how things work and how things go together—whether that’s taking apart my car to fix it, landscaping a garden, making jewelry for my partner, or refurbishing a piece of furniture. ‘Making’ is an integral part of who I am. My attitude is to always have a go! Even if things don’t work out the first time, keep going, keep learning and trying! I’m constantly experimenting with new styles and materials and I think I’ll be making things my whole life—I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
How long have you been creating furniture and sculptural pieces?
I started making furniture for myself out of necessity because I couldn’t afford to buy the kind of furniture that I liked. I was experimenting with different styles and materials with lots of trial and error, teaching myself and figuring things out as I went. I began making some things for friends, then started selling through Facebook and Instagram. It’s been about a-year-and a-half since I started working full time creating furniture and sculptural pieces and I couldn’t be happier doing it!
What inspired you to go down this path with your career?
I’m inspired by a lot of different things. I have a background as a landscape gardener, but also studied Landscape Architecture at RMIT. Combining the design knowledge from my degrees with the practical skills and understanding of physical materials from landscaping is what really inspired me to start working with natural materials.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
My process starts with the material itself. I don’t usually have too many preconceived ideas about what I’m going to do, I let the materials lead the way. Whenever I do have a firm idea about what I want to do, it never turns out how I intended! That’s not a bad thing, though—some of my favourite pieces have come out of mistakes or accidents.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
I think the thing that has really helped my business grow is the material that I use. I’ve witnessed a real shift in the last few years in the demand for pieces that are handmade from natural and unusual materials. Stone is so wonderful because it requires such little processing and has a tiny carbon footprint. I think this is really appealing to a lot of people, especially in this current climate as we start to reject the mass-produced and focus on sustainability and local products instead.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
I’ve found that the most challenging aspect of running a small business is ensuring that I have enough time to still be creative. Experimenting and having fun with my art is so important but sometimes the business side of things can really take over and get in the way of making purely for the sake of creating.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
I have really loved the opportunity to connect with other artists, creatives and small business owners. The support I have received from the creative community has been amazing and so encouraging. I really love collaborating with other brands, and I’ve had some great opportunities to do trades and swaps with other artists that I really admire.
Do you have a single piece of advice that you’d give to your younger self/someone looking to start their own business?
Always keep experimenting and trying new things. New materials, new ideas—no matter how wacky, keep going! Trust yourself and go with your instinct. Have fun and remember to always enjoy the process of creating.
How long have you lived in your home?
Almost three and a half years.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
The big rooms and the high ceilings! I fell in love with the windows overlooking High Street. It can be noisy sometimes, but I really like how connected I feel to the neighbourhood, and Jimmy (my cat) loves sitting on the windowsill and keeping an eye on things. I could see the house had a lot of potential, especially the outdoor space.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
As I’m renting, it’s not possible to do any real renovations. However, when I first moved in, the garden was non-existent. It was just a pile of dirt and rubble, and there was rubbish and old building supplies everywhere. I have a background as a landscape gardener, and I slowly started bringing back unwanted bits and pieces, and propagating plants from clients’ gardens. Three years later and the garden is a thriving sanctuary!
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I think I have quite an eclectic style and it’s really a combination of lots of different things that I love. Warm colours and lots of texture. It’s never finished and it evolves over time—I’m not too worried about making mistakes with decor or furniture. I love bringing new things together, rearranging and mismatching, and seeing what works for me. I’ve made a lot of the furniture myself, and the rest is second-hand. It’s really important to me that my home feels comfortable and liveable, I’m not too stressed about recreating any sort of style or image. I’ve styled my house in a way that I think is beautiful and fills me with joy.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
The collection of artworks are definitely my favourite and most meaningful pieces. Almost all of the artworks are done by friends, or local artists. They make the house feel really special and vibrant, and I love being able to support other artists by buying their work.
Do you have any special décor pieces that you’re looking to add?
I actually just bought a beautiful vase by LRNCE! I have been a huge fan of hers for years and was so excited to see that she was doing a collection for Bed Threads. Her pieces are so unique and fun, everything she does is incredible, and I find her use of colour really inspirational.
What is your favourite room in the house?
It’s not technically a room, but the garden is absolutely my favourite part of the house. I spend so much time down there, whether it’s in my little studio, making and photographing my work, or watering the plants, or picking herbs from the veggie garden. It’s so tranquil and lush, I always feel so content and happy when I’m there. Even just watching my cat, Jim, exploring the undergrowth and chasing insects brings me great joy. It’s also where we have all our parties, it’s the perfect place to invite friends over for a cocktail, and in the winter we have a fire pit. People are always so surprised the first time they walk through the door and see it! It’s like a secret oasis tucked in behind High Street, I love it so much.
Tell us about your bedroom.
I’ve always wanted a big bedroom, so as soon as I moved in, I got to work on designing and making my perfect bed. It has a wide wooden shelf around the edge and it’s absolutely enormous! It feels really decadent and luxurious, and I think it fills the space really well. I like soft lighting in the bedroom, so I have a lot of lamps in there too. I hardly ever have the overhead light on. There’s a lot going on in there, it’s pretty colourful with lots of warm tones but it always feels cosy and inviting.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
I think it’s so important to stay true to your own style and not worry too much about trends and what other people are doing. Your house should be a reflection of your personality and be filled with things and colours that make you feel happy. Even if you don’t have a lot of money for decorating, you can still hunt down some great, character-filled pieces at op shops and through secondhand sellers, or learn to make them! My best piece of advice would be to encourage people to have a go at creating something for yourself. It’s so rewarding and fulfilling and makes your home really special.
Do you have any projects coming up that you want to talk about?
I am super excited to be releasing a special collection of one-off pieces for Bed Threads. I would also really love to have an exhibition this year—it’s been a big goal of mine for a while now and I am slowly working my way towards it. Other than that, I am just taking things one step at a time and looking forward to what the future brings.
For more from Lucas, follow him @neighbourhood.studio
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