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After watching his father
create beautiful furniture
Tom Skeehan was inspired
to take his own career in a
"It's just something that
I feel quite familiar with, by
studying design that's my first application, you
know, is through furniture," he said.
"It's just beautiful to have the ability to
actually create a fully finished product."
Realising there was a niche in the market for
small and tall café stools; the young product and
furniture designer has gone about filling this gap
in commercial environments across the capital.
His stools grace the spaces at La De Da
bar in Belconnen and Two Before Ten café in
Canberra City among others, with a new project
alongside Lonsdale Street Roasters in Braddon
also in full swing.
Skeehan says his designs are all about
having interactive qualities -- both physically
"The stools at the moment have
interchangeable legs, [I can] quite easily change
the colours and the aesthetics and the material
and I've been trying to keep a minimal form,"
Heavily influenced by Japanese designs --
particularly how material is selected, crafted
and the way in which its purity is preserved--
Skeehan's work at La De Da and Two Before Ten
is reflective of these concepts.
The process involved a great deal of
collaboration with the clients to create a product
that reflected each environment.
Skeehan credits his time spent in Japan --
both for work and pleasure -- as influencing his
design concepts and ideas.
"What I take out of it and what sticks is their
selection of materials and the consideration of
materials and that lifecycle process of where
and what you use and what you're intending it
for," he said.
"[It's] their values in the sense of [the]
importance they put on an object."
Skeehan believes this is inherent in their
culture and stems from the home.
"Their home is almost like a product, you
understand the circulation of that space, how
important it is and how the person interacts
with it," he said.
"How a person experiences your products
discovering subtle details ... [it's] really
being honest with materials using the purity
of material and for to develop a stronger
Crafted from plywood, the piku stool at Two
Before Ten gains its name from a hole in the
seat, which is positioned above another hole in
the bracket at the bottom.
The open structured legs are positioned
off centre, with the axis highlighted through
corresponding holes in the top surface and
"Down one side of the leg, there's this
artwork that was developed by the owners and
that artwork kind of leads into the underside of
the stool," Skeehan said.
"People see this pattern, and then they
can pick it up and they see it develops on the
underside, it's a bit of a surprise. [The owners]
wanted something that was quite organic and
tied in with that handcrafted [feel], that's why
we went with timber and we only produced 16
of them, tall and very small."
In contrast at La De Da, the feeling was high
end cocktail so the stools had to reflect this.
Crafting a Niche
Canberra's emerging bar and coffee scene owes a lot to
designer Tom Skeehan. BY HANNAH JONKERS
"We wanted something quite bright and kind
of playful. We had a colour pallet, from graffiti
artists and murals that were going in at the time,
so I sort of used that as my inspiration for the
colours and form," he said.
"Because of how durable it had to be in a
bar environment ... the legs were made from
aluminum, and then we went with a plywood,
wooden top just to sort of soften it a little bit."
Skeehan says the feedback from his clients
has been positive and he's continued to have
ongoing work as a result.
"They're at a high level of business where
they're quite proud of what they're doing ... part
of their marketing strategy is involving Canberra
and by engaging other artists and designers,
bartenders or baristas or whatever, they're
considering the whole process," he said.
"It is great that local companies are
collaborating with local artists and designers,
these businesses really understand the
importance of an inclusively design space and
SKEEHAN P: 0411 094 355 W: skeehan.com.au
Two Before Ten
Lonsdale Street Roasters
ARUKU STOOL BY TOM SKEEHAN
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