There’s a problem with tapware – it’s not always a particularly exciting addition to the home. You might have the option of black or chrome. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, maybe a little brushed brass. It’s the predicament that led self-proclaimed tinkerer Oliver MacLatchy to start his Melbourne-based bathroom accessory label, Wood Melbourne.

“I was building a little apartment in Brunswick West and I couldn’t find any tapware that wasn’t boring,” MacLatchy tells Broadsheet. “So I just joined up some bits of brass and copper, added some timber, and thought to myself, ‘This is pretty cool’.”

What started off as a range of crafted timber tapware has grown into a company that services almost all areas of the bathroom. There are brass showerheads that promise luxury rain-style showering, timber spouts made from 80-year-old reclaimed blackbutt timber, and concrete vanities for those after a more industrial look.

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Then there’s Chromablock – MacLatchy’s newest range made in collaboration with NYC-based Georgina McWhirter, senior editor of Interior Design magazine. While the rest of his product line is fairly pared back, Chromablock is “very loud and very fun”, he explains.

The collection features two boldly coloured tap handle designs: the Kahn cylindrical shape named for architect Louis Kahn’s penchant for circular voids, and the cube-shaped Corbu inspired by modernist pioneer Le Corbusier. Made from poured bio-resin (a new medium for MacLatchy), they’re available in 12 deliciously matte colourways with evocative names like Hot Sauce (red-orange), Dirty Martini (olive green), Boiled Prawn (blush pink) and Footpath (grey).

McWhirter – an NZ expat who posts on Instagram as The Eye Spies – discovered MacLatchy’s work in a magazine and reached out with a story request. The collab came about over a series of back-and-forth emails from New York to Melbourne. Over three years and multiple lockdowns, the duo worked together to refine the collection down to its most playful constituents. Though it’s a far cry from his usual aesthetic, MacLatchy says the range may be his favourite.

“I’ve always been pretty willing to dip a toe in with anything that’s slightly different. And not just because it’s different,” he says. “I like the challenge of making something new, and I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve created. I’d go as far as to say it’s the best thing I’ve worked on.”

MacLatchy comes to making with a background in carpentry, having worked alongside his dad through the late ’90s. He has a love for creating new things that comes from “finding problems that he can’t see a solution for on the shelf,” he says.

Using a foolproof combination of his imagination and Instagram, MacLatchy evolved Wood Melbourne through the simple act of uploading photos of his creations and seeing what his followers had to say. “It was a really ad hoc way of doing things,” MacLatchy says. “Each month I would make different things for a new photoshoot and post the shots. If I got 100 likes on a photo, then I would know that people would want it. It let me test the market practically overnight.”

Wood Melbourne is currently a one-maker show based out of a studio and showroom in Brunswick West. Almost all products are manufactured locally, and there’s a focus on long-lasting bespoke pieces that align with the artistic vision of clients.

“What I love most is working with a client to make their idea come to life,” MacLatchy says. “I get to provide something that nobody else in the world can provide, and something that is reflective of who they are as a person.”

Wood Melbourne bathroom products – including the Chromablock collection – can be viewed online or by appointment at 146 Melville Road, West Brunswick.

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