Hugh’s passion lights up the Limestone Coast

By Kate Foreman

Inkster owner Hugh Altschwager uses inspiration from the natural surroundings of the South Australian coast and farming land to create handmade products and one-off pieces right from his backyard.

Founded in 2013, Inkster focuses on highlighting Hugh’s farming heritage through the idea of using naturally occurring materials which require minimal processing to reach their final product form.

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“Timber and limestone are great examples of natural materials that are almost ready to use immediately after being harvested or quarried,” says Hugh.

“I feel these materials give the final product a greater sense of tactility through their warmth and character and therefore greater engagement with the end user.”

After launching his business in Melbourne, Hugh has returned to South Australia, the source of his materials to reclaim the rural lifestyle and make use of the advantage of being close to the raw materials he uses.

“The quality of life in South Australia, particularly the Limestone Coast is incredibly undervalued,” Hugh says. “We have everything at our fingertips.”

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The Altschwager family arrived in Australia from Rostock, Germany in 1848 and settled on the Limestone Coast in the 1860s and have been farming there ever since. It is this heritage and history that has lead Hugh to be creative with his brand and products combining his Australian and European lineages.

“I wanted something that would reference my heritage and also the aesthetic of the products I was intending to produce,” says Hugh.

Currently Inkster has been producing a range of lighting pieces designed to sit and suit a wide range of spaces rather than be a dominant feature.

Hugh’s unique style has made him a household name on the Limestone Coast with his creations turning up all over the place, most recently the entrance of Robe’s historic Caledonian Hotel.

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Moving his business from the city to the country was an easy decision for Hugh, not only because of the access to plentiful space and minimal outgoing costs, but due to the unbeatable coastal lifestyle. Converting an old unused woolshed on the family farm into his workshop made this possible.

Each piece is enitrely handmade in Hugh’s workshop, realised through his architectural degree and also through techniques he has self-developed or taught through creative practice.

“The limestone comes in large blocks cut straight from the ground near Mount Gambier. I then cut them down in my workshop and use techniques I have developed to hand shape and refine it into the finished product,” says Hugh.

One-off art pieces are a passion for the rising design star, but Inkster will also be able to offer design for spaces in the future.

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