A Moment With | Tom Skeehan
Industrial Designer Tom Skeehan has a gentle and thoughtful approach to design. Based in Canberra, Tom is Founder and Director of SKEEHAN Studio, a design firm which produces commercial furniture, lighting and product design. For Tom, adopting a uniquely considered, material-minded process, as found in Japanese design, is at the core of all his work. SKEEHAN Studio design and manufacture all their pieces in Australia, working closely with local vendors to ensure their designs are the best they can be. We caught up with Tom to find out more about his design process, his biggest inspiration and how his work has evolved over the years.
Hi Tom, did you know growing up that you wanted to work in the design world? I was always heading towards art and design growing up. I loved drawing and making. My father was a Cabinetmaker – my earliest memories are making wooden blocks and learning to draw on his drafting table.
Is there a creative or aesthetic thread that ties your work together? A lot of the aesthetic in my work comes from the material or process of manufacture. Exploring materials and methods of production often form the finer details and overall vision of the project.
Tell us about your current collection HOSHI for StylecraftHOME – what was your inspiration behind it? The HOSHI collection is all about materiality and an honest approach to manufacturing. Breaking the form of a chair down to its bare essential. Celebrating precise manufacturing techniques through a family of objects that compliment each other.
What’s your design process like? Are you in the studio every day? I’m in the studio every day. We have some exciting new ventures coming up over the next two years. Most of my duties these days involve managing the team and staying on top of new projects. I’m fortunate to have great support and creative in the studio – it has taken a long time to get to the point that I don’t have to do everything in the business.
Your work is inspired by Japanese minimalism… what is it about minimalist design you find so magnetic? I have always admired the work of Naoto Fukasawa and Tadao Ando. From the start of my career I would look to their methods and mantra’s and try and incorporate it into each design brief. Celebrating the process of creating work that is paired back over and over again until you have a form or language that feels honest and free from the unnecessary – this combined with a deep desire for everything to be as function as intended. Naoto’s involvement with MUJI is a testament to this.
How has your work evolved over the years? It has evolved immensely – I have so many failed projects. My understanding of manufacturing, business, and the furniture industry has improved. I’m grateful for my relationship with StylecraftHOME, it’s allowed me to grow and gain a strong understanding of the market - what the consumer wants, price points and global trends.
What are you looking forward to in 2019? The next two years are shaping up to be very big. I’m launching a new collection with StylecraftHOME in February ‘NAVE’. Our studio is also expanding and we have finally started to make in roads with some great international brands.
I am inspired by: Process.
Best advice I’ve ever received: Develop a thorough design brief.
I couldn’t live without: Family.
My favourite daily ritual: Putting the coffee pot on at the studio.
I’m currently reading: White by Kenya Hara.
And listening to: Bill Callahan.
On my wish-list: A forklift.
My guilty pleasure: Katsu curry.