JF Dialogues #04 - Furniture Designer, Tom Skeehan

The fourth instalment of the JF Dialogues series features the founder of Skeehan Studio - a multidisciplinary design practice based out of Australia.

"Creating intelligent solutions for the every day and partnering with leading brands to form a material driven and honest approach to design. We create products designed to help you live, learn and engage, building meaningful relationships with materiality and an object's lifecycle."
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JOSH FANO TOM SKEEHAN STUDIO 

1. How has your work evolved in the past year?

This year we have seen some exciting developments in complex upholstery and joinery. We have been working on some products for some luxury brands that have allowed us to explore wet formed leather, hand stitching, and complex timber lamination. This process of new material investigation is at the core of our studio and it has been exciting to have the time and a brief that celebrates this process. 

 

2. What have you not achieved that you would like to?

I’m still developing a folding chair. This project has been in the pipeline for 3 years and we still have a long way to go. 

 

JOSH FANO TOM SKEEHAN STUDIO JF DIALOGUES INTERVIEW  

3. What’s the most rewarding element of your process?

 Material exploration and sketching.

 

4. What book has influenced you more than any other?

Naoto Fukasawa 2007 + Seth Godin Purple COW. 

 JOSH FANO TOM SKEEHAN STUDIO JF DIALOGUES INTERVIEW

 

7. What’s been your most rewarding project?

So far it has been my HUP HUP folding chair. As mentioned above it is still in development. This chair started as an experimental product that would challenge the way we use and interact with a chair. Celebrating it folded as an artwork. It launched in New York and has won some exciting awards. The best bit is it still is in development and the design language and engineering is constantly evolving. I'm excited to see where this chair ends up as the process has been exhausting and rewarding. 

 

6. Where do your ideas come from?

To take a quote from Benjamin Hubert ‘Material Driven Process Lead’ Putting material research at the front end of the design development and celebrating process is what allows me to move through ideation and product direction. This, combined with a strong set of goals, a design brief, and research, forms the base of most of my ideas. 

 

JOSH FANO TOM SKEEHAN STUDIO JF DIALOGUES INTERVIEW

 

7. When people experience your work, what emotion(s) do you want them to feel?

An honest understanding of materials and construction. Celebrating how a product is made and clearly identifying each subtle detail. Refining a form to its minimal elements and letting the materials natural aesthetic become the driving narrative. 

 

8. What does your studio/workspace look like?

It's split between an office/studio environment and prototyping/assembly warehouse. We supply a lot of furniture to our distributors and can handle most of it from our studio. It is an open plan clean environment surrounded by failed prototypes and products in production. 

 

JOSH FANO TOM SKEEHAN STUDIO JF DIALOGUES INTERVIEW

 

9. How would you describe your personal design philosophy?

Personally, I think a lot about a product's lifecycle and the materials we are using. What is its purpose and how will it be used and celebrated. Honest to materials and process, striving to design something that is meaningful and adds value. This is something that is always being questioned and refined. 

 

10. If you could go back in time, would you navigate your career differently?

No, I don't think I would. I have so many failed products, projects, and ideas, but reflecting on them and learning has allowed me to build my brand and given me the confidence to now take on some exciting projects. This industry is built on collaboration and the journey is what builds your design language and aesthetic. I'm sure there are easier ways to go through the process but for me, this is how I learn and hope I can have the energy to keep pushing through the ‘failure’.
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You can find more of Tom Skeehan's work on the Skeehan Studio website, or follow the instagram to keep up to date with their latest projects.