Designers inspire fellow designers & we are often awed by what our products inspire others to create. Melbourne-based Dan Schonknecht, or @specht_design on Instagram, is one such designer. Using timber pieces, he creates customizations for espresso machines & accessories. In June of 2015, he took the leap from working on this as a side business to a full-time endeavor.
Intrigued by his work, we caught up with Dan via email to ask him a few questions. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
acaia: The drip tray integration with the lunar scale you did for Timothy Wee looks phenomenal! Tell us more about this special project.
Dan: Thank you very much! It was a special build that machine! Timothy has been such a loyal supporter of mine and was one of my first clients, so I really wanted to build a standout machine with a list of things I'd never done before! I built the GS3 for Tim quite a while ago to a different spec and was one of my favourite GS3 builds as it was, but after having lunch with Tim before he headed back to Singapore we decided to give it an overhaul! The machine was boxed up and about to be loaded on plane back to Singapore at the time, so I had to cancel the transport and have it delivered back to me!
The plan was simple - do something I've never done to a GS3 before. Timothy allowed me to use his GS3 as a test pilot for a project I was working on and for that reason, it was the first GS3 in the world to be fitted with the side mount steam lever that I designed with my good mate Rick Bond - AKA Coffee Machinist @coffeemachinist.
It was also the first GS3 (as far as I'm aware) to have your amazing Lunar scale integrated into the drip tray. We also had all of the chrome work electroplated in copper to really add a touch of class and point of difference. Along with the copper work, I hand picked some really nice walnut timber to replace all of the plastic parts and made the side panels using a single piece of timber. I'm very proud of this machine and I hope that I have created a machine that will never date and something Tim can be really proud to have on his bench.
What has been your favorite project to date? Or – what would you consider to be your dream custom job?
Wow, that's a tough question! I still consider the Kees Van Der Western for Clement Coffee in Melbourne to be one of my favourite builds. It was a job that I was given creative licence to do what I wanted, provided it was white and had Tasmanian oak timber. It's such a beautiful machine to begin with and I just did my best to give it it's own personality.
Which materials do you specialize in or prefer working with?
I specialise in handmade timber products for coffee machines and it's something I take a lot of pride in! The timber work is where it all started for me. It just happened to progress into doing full custom builds too. It really is a dream job and no matter how exhausted I am, I love very minute of it!
As a creative, we're sure you're asked this question often. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Gee, that's actually a hard question! I guess I really try to focus on the client's personality and/or cafe fit-out and build the machine to suit. Sometimes, I just draw inspiration from the things around me. It could be a car, a building or a beautiful piece of furniture. I'm building a machine right now that has one aspect of it that is simply inspired by a window I saw in Paris!
Thank you for taking the time out to chat with us, Dan!
To explore more of his work, check out his Instagram page @specht_design. All photos are courtesy of Specht Design.