David Trubridge

ENGLAND (1951)
David Trubridge is a trained naval architect and self-taught woodworker who is passionate about the environment. And this passion isn’t expressed while sitting behind a desk, rather while being out in the world and living in extreme situations. In 1982, Trubridge and his family moved aboard their 45-foot cutter, “Hornpipe,” and spent the next four years exploring the Caribbean and Tahiti. Along the way, Trubridge designed and built entire houses of furniture for clients living on the islands. “Facilities and supplies were very limited, and I had to design around what was available and what I could do there,” says Trubridge. “It was a very valuable lesson in economy and creative design. Mostly I worked in a tiny shed with about one machine, and if I had to, I bought time on larger machines nearby. In Tahiti I worked out of the clients’ garages, and they could wander out and watch their furniture being made. Electricity came from generators that did not run all the time, so I had to work around that too.”

At the end of four years, Trubridge and his family settled in New Zealand, which continues to be their home. In 2004, Trubridge was selected for the Antarctica New Zealand program, which takes two artists to the ice each year. Trubridge explains that the intent of the program “is to communicate something of this amazing and unique place through the sensitivities of artists of all disciplines, rather than through the normal scientific journals or National Geographic-type articles.” The experience, combined with his relationship with marine life, furthered Trubridge’s dedication to live in ways that support a delicate footprint. A firm believer in reuse, he created his studio out of an abandoned joinery shop in a closed meatpacking district. In 2007, Trubridge was honored with the Green Leaf Award for artistic excellence, presented by the Natural World Museum and the United Nations Environment Programme. These awards celebrate an artist’s ability to inspire and engage the public in environmental awareness and action.

“Designing is like the kids’ game of rolling a number of balls into holes. Each time you get one in, the next pops out. The design that gets every ball in the hole, everything right, is very rare, because all the criteria are competing. So you learn to make the best compromise, which may sound a bit negative, but isn’t really. It’s one of the skills of designing.”