Òscar Ollé, Cabinet maker, Barcelona, Spain

When I was turning a piece of banana tree wood that I cut with my own hands from a tree that saw me grow, which I kept and I had to cure for years before I could work and create a unique piece… I realized that a tree never dies and leaves a story behind.

Imagine we don’t’ know anything about your profession. Could you describe it?  I’m cabinetmaker since my childhood in my family business. As all professions there are many levels of work and responsibility, but in general this is a physical work which needs a mental involvment and brings great satisfaction. 

What materials do you use? I buy wood from four different continents, they come frm forests of controlled felling, I also get beams from farms or old buildings, old furniture without use, finally talo trees sick or dead for some reason and I keep the wood for years, I care for it and let it dry like our ancestors did. The idea is to be able to reach the customer with the right wood.

Who is you “ideal client’s profile? A client that respects the craftsman’s work, admires the materials. After having done many jobs, the ideal profile is the person who knows how to listen.

 

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When and how did you decide to be a craftsman? Because of the global economic crisis of 2008 my first company, shafts MANDRI s.l, failed in 201. I used to make exceptional jobs with big revenues, for municipalities and strong building companies. After losing everything, company, family, friends (the economic crisis was devastating for me), I understood that my passion is my trade, I did not want to return to the wood industry, I wanted to recover the trade and ancient techniques that I learned by observing my father. He taught me manual techniques, cuts and wood care. I began to work with my hands as our ancestors did, conserving native woods, researching and studying on my own with books that I was getting, I worked and worked. I have learned a lot from my mistakes, to know myself better and my own limits. What I loved more, was  the finishes, which are for me the most important.

Would you define your job a passion? Yes of course. What is the best moment you had in your job? There are many, but the most significant was when my family sold our land after my grandmother died. The night before the beginning of the work of the heavy machinery, I worked and cut one by one the trees that had belonged to my family in generations, Robles, Platanus , Pine, .. I have kept these trees for years, letting them dry as they taught me, wetting them and letting them dry on the side. My first job was a foot of a lamp for a couple of Americans, when I worked on the wood lathe, I began to remember many moments of my childhood around that tree, the feelings that flowed to me, I understood the importance of the objects if we respect and admire nature. Each client that I have, takes a part of me in each job I do. This bond is eternal.

Where and how long did you train before you were ready to create your business? I could not say, everything has been emerging. Since my childhood I have gone with my father from workshop to workshop. There are two important moments, the first was the creation of my company Fustes MANDRI s.l (which failed), the second is the current one.

In the first, I was studying Fine Arts, a friend who worked in a construction company at the state level proposed me to do a project for his client, a franchises  of Ginos restaurants. They wanted to make a different restaurant from all other franchises of Barcelona, as this one in particular would be stuck to the port, looking at the sea. Without having a company, I did my friend’sa  favor, handed over the project and the project was chosen.  I had to improvise, create and manufacture the restaurant in my father’s gararge. The client was so satisfied that the same builder proposed me to create a carpentry company, so I did, I left the studies and in less than a year I had 6 workers (including my father) and 25 self-employed contractors. Among my clients there was the  la Escuela de hosteleria de Barcelona. As explained before, the crisis took me in full growth and I could not face the costas and I failed. After thinking about what to do with my future, the only thing I had was a knw-howin hand woodworking so I decided to take advantage of it and trengthen this craft. I was elected as a teacher at the ECORE school, where I still teach classes for quarters, I have a craft workshop in a central neighborhood of the city where I also teach classes on Saturdays.

A wood story - Oscar Ollé A wood story - Oscar Ollé A wood story - Oscar Ollé A wood story - Oscar Ollé A wood story - Oscar Ollé


What specific know-how and technical skills do you need in your profession?
Drawing Know-how is necessary.  It’s necessary to be  patient, demanding, respectful and observant.

What role do “talent”, and “creativity” play in your profession? Talent is forged individually, day by day, by working, being critical with oneself. Creativity is educated, everything depends on the passion of each student.

And what about innovation, what are the changes since you started? Knowledge and crafts are not at odds with technology, today we can communicate instantly with any craftsman from anywhere in the world, who works with different techniques and materials, we can compare and solve issues and most importantly, enrich us. Do you use new materials, tools, processes, marketing tools? Not everything I would like. What is the impact of innovation on your performances? Innovation is Required.. The impact, is the direct and instantaneous communication that exists with different artisans around the world. This is wonderful.

How could your profession be even more innovative? We live in a world where everything is accelerated, work, food, dress, social relations, consumption in general. Give pause and control of your time is what my profession, the youth grows with a very fast pace, get things instantly. Transmit that quality is in the effort, effort makes you have values which are more that everything that costs.

Describe a meaningful experience or a personal reflection that you would like to share with us and explain why. Reflections and experiences…  I have many, I would like to highlight the customs and values of our elders, the effort to get things and conserve them.

What is the best way to learn your profession? Schools, trainings with craftsmen … Schools, workshops with artisans. Nowadays, thanks to technologies and communications, you can learn any trade, you just have to want, the tools to have knowledge of any trade are on the internet on any platform, it is always advisable to practice with professionals.

Imagine that you want to invite young generations to choose your profession, what would be your message to them? It is a huge responsibility to give advice or messages that can reach many people, in my humble understanding and without any precedent, I believe that personal experiences are the ones that forge each one, this is where individual courage comes into play. Having said this and based on my experiences, I would like to express my sensation and personal growth as an artisan, that is how you can, even for the most doubtful, reaching the soul.

When I was turning a piece of banana tree wood that I cut with my own hands from a tree that saw me grow, which I kept and I had to cure for years before I could work and create a unique piece…  I realized that a tree never dies and leaves a story behind. I had the feeling of completing the work after so many years, and experienced forgotten feelings which are linked to childhood. The final piece, be it a vase, a chair, a piece of furniture, a jewel, will make the care and its history transmitted to generations, as our elders did, pieces of a unique value and cost. Recover those values at a time when consumption is scary, it is necessary, encourage young people who believe that craftsmanship, by creating personal feelings, will make believe in a stable future.

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