Alison Ospina has been designing and making her graceful, freeform chairs using locally coppiced hazel, since moving to West Cork in 1996.
She had spent the previous 10 years developing her expertise in joinery and furniture making, inspired by Shaker design principles of simplicity, quality and functionality.
It was the move to rural South West Ireland which led her to start working with natural wood. She discovered there is a special energy in the West Cork landscape that stirs the spirit and stimulates creativity. Although a variety of broadleaf trees are suitable for coppicing, hazel has become Alison's material of choice.
Since 1996 she has developed her own distinct approach to chair design and construction. Her green wood forms are materials led ‘working with the natural shapes and curves of the hazel is a dynamic process – like a conversation between the tree and the chair maker’. In recent years Alison has looked for ways to incorporate textiles into her chair designs, bringing colour and soft textures to her work.
In 2009 Alison published her first book 'Green Wood Chairs – Chairs and Chair Makers of Ireland', by then she had been teaching her unique approach and philosophy for over 10 years and wanted to inspire a larger audience to ‘try their hand’ at making their own green wood chairs.
Her second book 'West Cork Inspires' was published in 2011 and documents the history of the contemporary craft movement in West Cork and profiles some of its main protagonists.
Her third and most recent book, 'Green Wood Stools', was published in 2017.
Alison has curated the annual 'West Cork Creates' exhibition in Skibbereen since 2010. She finds the process very rewarding as it feeds her passion for local art & craft and she also finds it a great source of creative inspiration and opportunities for collaboration.