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Modern Craft Project – The Shortlist is Revealed


With the Modern Craft Project, Ketel One has embarked on a quest to seek out contemporary craftsmen who bring traditional skills into the modern day, and reward one outstanding modern craftsman with the Ketel One legacy of $100,000.

And we're one step closer to finding the winner. Over 100 modern craftsmen entered, in a fantastic showcase of fine skills from budding craftsmen across the nation. Our expert judging panel - Nick Palumbo of Gelato Messina, Lucy Folk of Lucy Folk Jewellery and Christian Condo of the Modern Motorcycle Company - were overwhelmed with the outstanding entries, ranging from glass blowers to carpenters, sculpture artists to perfumers and every craft in between. Thank you to all those who put forward their considerable talents.

The final 10 shortlisted entrants have now been chosen. These craftsmen exemplify Ketel One's passion for old school methods, combined with contemporary design and entrepreneurial spirit.

Congratulations to all those who have made the shortlist. Read on for more information about their craft, and keep checking to find out how you can vote for your favourite in February.


Hugh Altschwager

Hugh has worked to develop a way to turn the natural material of limestone into various lighting fixtures, with a view to launching a range of products under the label Inkster Maken. Traditionally, Limestone has been used as a common building material for housing due to its thermal qualities and low density. Until now, the composition and natural beauty of this material has not been maximised for a range of more refined potential purposes.  

Hugh has adapted a traditional wood lathe, to invent ways of mounting the stone to the lathe. Coupled with other natural products like timber, the finished product produces a warm, earthly glow not found in other modern lighting fixtures.

Paul Kaptein

Paul's craft is woodcarving, a centuries old tradition. In his practice, Paul explores the aesthetics of transience through notions of remix and emptiness (and the tension between Eastern and Western ideas of it). Borrowing from Quantum Physics and Buddhism, his starting point assumes everything contains elements of pre-existing forms and is in a state of transition. For Paul, wood inherently suggests past, present and future which make it the perfect medium through which to explore these themes. His carvings suggest the immediacy of the digitised and downloadable, whilst maintaining the processes of a centuries old tradition.


Kellie Bright

Kellie combines the materials and techniques of 18th century perfumery craft, with contemporary aromatics using cutting edge innovation and extraction techniques, to create an authentic modern perfume practise. Kellie has a passion for natural raw materials, evident in her perfume lab  with effleurage of gardenia, infusions and tinctures of cacao nibs, vanilla pods, aged orris root and jewelled absolutes in variations of colour not typically employed by larger perfume houses. These naturals bring a depth and complexity that is often lacking from modern fragrances created purely from synthetic compounds. Kellie's vision for her brand, Larutan, is to address a growing yearning amongst modern consumers for the unique and the authentic.  

Joshua Dowling

Joshua has developed a range of hand built surfboards, in response to a lack of craftsmanship and innovation in modern manufacturing, aiming to bring the sport back to the era of Polynesian Kings, when boards were hewn from Koa trees. In modern times, the craft has transitioned through from a cottage industry to offshore mass production for the mass market. With combinations of beautiful timber and lightweight aerospace-derived materials, Joshua has developed a stronger, longer-lasting board that is intuitively engineered for performance and tailor made to the individual, transforming the craft. Using these elements, Joshua sees an ongoing journey investigating materials and a combination of craft-based and digital technologies, to keep a cutting edge in surfboard design.

Joshua Bahen

Bahen & Co is a craft bean to bar maker of single origin chocolate, sourcing beans direct from growers for the best heirloom varieties available. The process involves roasting, winnowing, stone grinding, conching and tempering. Joshua uses a 1930s Barth Sirocco Ball Roaster, and a 100 year old wooden winnower rescued from an abandoned chocolate factory in Latin America, machines that operate at low speed and low impact to tease out flavour. He works to produce chocolate in an old fashioned way that celebrates the practices of the pre industrial craft. Joshua uses no additives – only cocoa and cane sugar, where the process relies on the quality and individual character of the beans to  deliver the flavour profiles. This process is unique to Australia.

Jess Cameron Wootten

Jess is a second-generation cordwainer, following in the foot-steps of his father. Cordwaining is an old word for shoemaker, traditionally distinct from a cobbler. Originating In England around a thousand years ago, a cordwainer was an artisan who made fine leather products, mostly footwear. Jess' aim is to bring this traditional craft into the modern era. After studying shoe-making at RMIT, Jess launched his company Wootten™, an innovative studio crafting bespoke footwear with an increasing profile in the design community.

Jess aims to take the time-honoured craft of the cordwainer from its traditional roots and give it contemporary relevance. In response to mass produced footwear, Jess seeks to perfect the quality of finish when a product is made by hand, a result unattainable by a machine.

Wootten produces, by hand, some of the world's highest performance cycling footwear, meticulously finished orthopaedic footwear and first-class bespoke shoes that stay true to traditional styles and quality with a contemporary edge. 

Helen Bird

Helen has worked to transform the humble food bike/cart into a modern day object of functional beauty. She has been inspired by her world travels, seeing small-scale, ad-hoc, hand-made street food contraptions/carts/bikes that are fast disappearing across the world due to rapid urbanisation. Helen has designed the carts for vendors from disadvantaged migrant backgrounds - sourced, supported and trained by a new social enterprise she has started. She operates her business for the betterment of society and to reduce environmental harm. Each cart is a bespoke design, not for mass production. Designed using both analogue techniques (drawing and model making) and digital methods (2D & 3D CAD), the carts are then fabricated using CNC machinery, laser cutting, metal folding and TIG welding. Utilising car/boat-manufacturing techniques with aluminium, and boat building techniques using laser cut plywood and assembled/finished by hand, materiality differs with each design. 

Andrew Simpson

Andrew specialises in building wooden boats. In spite of advances of technology and modern materials like fibreglass, there are dedicated fans of the craft who love nothing better than good-old fashioned wood. Andrew has made wooden boat building accessible to anyone by creating DIY rowboat and sailboat kits, using his skills as an industrial designer. Andrew uses recycled timber, then refines his designs using the latest CAD technology. Through his business, The Balmain Boat Company he wishes to create more designs inspired by the world's classic wooden boat forms, building awareness of the extraordinary joy of making a boat by hand and putting it on the water for the first time.

Megan Nielsen

Megan designs a line of fashion forward sewing patterns. Megan believes that for too long, sewing has been considered a forgotten and out-dated craft. Traditional sewing patterns leave a lot to be desired in unflattering old fashioned designs, and difficult instructions -  with the craft suffering a fall in popularity in the last 50 years as a result. Megan aims to change this, transforming sewing for the modern woman with stylish fashion forward designs, and easy to follow patterns. She encourages a new generation of women to sew and express themselves through this wonderful craft.

Ben Wahrlich

Ben has created a range of bespoke homewares, Kasa, with products individually hand crafted from concrete. Each piece has been hand mixed and hand cast, ensuring an individual and personal characteristic in the finish.  Concrete has been used for centuries as a traditional construction material, typically used for it's strength and durability. However, it has been overlooked as a suitable material for smaller items such as homewares, which illustrate it's unique and beautiful characteristics.

Soon, the work of these finalists will be displayed at venues across Sydney and Melbourne.

Voting is now open for the Australian public to cast their votes - and determine which of these finalists deserve to be chosen as the winning Ketel One Modern Craftsman. To vote, head to