Greg Innes is flying high.
It’s not just the waves and wind along the Strait of Juan de Fuca that stir his passions, but also the beaches and woods where he salvages much of his raw materials for his fine handcrafted furniture.
For a couple of years, Innes built surfboards for the kite surfing aficionados who ply the waters along the strait, but his love of driftwood and the endless possibilities brought him back to furniture.
Innes is well known for his sturdy rustic log beds, tables and cabinets, which he built and sold to clients across North America.
Now he is focussing on driftwood and salvaged wood he finds along the shorelines close to his home on West Coast Road in Otter Point.
“This beach wood look is up and coming. I love the fact I’m in it, it is the crescendo of my career at this point,” Innes said.
Innes’ love of kite surfing brought him to the coast, and it has influenced many aspects of his life. His passion for the water comes from his parents.
“My mom bought a windsurfer in the 1970s,” he said.
Recently, Innes took up kite foiling, which is like kite surfing but the board has a long keel which has the user literally flying above the water.
“It’s like you’re flying, it is really really awesome,” he said.
The surfboards he built were beautiful but time consuming and required too much work to fashion a business selling them. Some reflection and a good hard look turned him back to where he started.
Natural materials and a painter’s eye has him making furniture which looks like ship wreckage.
As he scrounges the beaches he is finding lots of driftwood which is not local. He said the smells and grains are not familiar, so perhaps it is from some faraway place.
In his woodshed, Innes combines salvaged wood with new wood which he paints to resemble the beautiful soft greys and blues of dry aged driftwood. Branches and gnarled wood are used to form undulating and sinuous arabesque patterns reminiscent of Adirondack furniture built for Eastern lodges and resorts in the mid-1800s.
Wood elements and native materials were key components to Adirondack style. Innes’ furniture has that sensibility but also encompasses a unique West Coast aesthetic.
“I love this part of the world, we’re Canadian and we’re on the West Coast.”
Along with his love of kite surfing and woodworking, Innes is also trying his hand at painting and music. Innes’ work can be found at www.driftwoodfurniture.ca.