I’ve long been a fan of the simplicity of mid-century furniture design, as readers of this blog will no doubt attest. However, once in a while, a contemporary designer comes along that captures my imagination.
Liam Treanor is one such designer. He has taken the ethics of mid-century design and applied them to his own work, producing a collection of pieces that are simple, elegant and functional, as all the best design should be.
There is honesty in material and construction in his work, and the clean lines and organic forms produce a lightweight aesthetic, redolent of the best of mid-century design.
Liam’s furniture uses only English grown timber from Forest Stewardship Council woodlands, and each piece is made to order, allowing the customer to choose the timber or specify the colour of the painted elements.
I caught up with Liam and asked him about his inspiration, influences and his plans for the future.
When did you first become interested in design and furniture design?
I came across furniture design due to rejection of further education at university level; I wanted to do something practical. So following my A Levels I opted to learn the art of cabinet making at a local college. This is where my love of design started to prevail, but more so after I left college and continued the subject on a more design-led course at university a year later. I’ve always been a hands-on person and I have a pragmatic mind, so being a designer maker is ideal.
What and/or who would you say are your biggest design influences?
Marcel Breuer’s pioneering designs led me to realize what good, intelligent design is; the importance of not designing a product around the aesthetic, but more so for its function and commercial viability. Following my discovery of Breuer I then went on to read about the Bauhaus school of art and design and Modernism in general. I pretty much taught myself how to design through research into the ethics of the Modernists through the 20th Century. I would recommend this approach to any budding designer.
What was the first piece that you created and did you consider it a success?
The first piece I designed and made was a plant table with pale green tapered legs and a visually floating natural poplar top. The poplar has green tints that worked really well with the coloured legs. It’s at my parent’s house. My Mum won’t let me have it back. If it makes her happy then I like to think it was a success.
Have you worked for any other designers or in a furniture-making capacity before setting out on your own?
I decided I wanted to set up my own company straight away after graduating from university in 2010. I don’t really like working under people or constraints. Working under somebody else would have meant I could be producing products I don’t necessarily enjoy making or agree with, whilst progressing their business whereas I could be establishing my own.
In starting your own business, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Sourcing enough work to balance the costs of exhibiting and marketing is the main challenge. Dreams are expensive indeed. I wouldn’t say that I have overcome this challenge yet; it is still early on in my career. But I do spend much time trying to source work and invest all available money on my business rather than going out and spoiling myself.
What is your latest project, and what inspired it?
The next big project will be a collaboration piece with a friend from my university course. I’m really excited about it. Due to attempting to keep a consistent identity throughout my current range of furniture I find there are restrictions as to how creative I can be. So with this new project you can expect to see products embodying interesting concepts and a fresh aesthetic.
What are you plans for the future?
In the short term – keep designing furniture and create an extensive collection; put more products into retail; move my business to London.
In the long term – manufacture my designs in a larger scale; open a shop to retail my work and the work of designers I think are talented.
Ultimately, I aim to make beautiful, affordable, design-led furniture accessible to wider audience.
To find out more, visit http://liamtreanor.co.uk/
Photography by Spadge – http://spadgeuk.com/