Q&A – Kirsty Thomas, founder of Tom Pigeon
Q&A: Kirsty Thomas, founder of Tom PigeonKirsty Thomas is the brainchild of Tom Pigeon, a British design studio founded in 2014.
Since then, the brand has gone from strength-to-strength, counting esteemed institutions such as V&A, Barbican and the Tate Modern amongst its impressive client roster.
For the past couple of months, Kirsty has been busy developing a special edition of Sintra designs set to launch this Autumn.
As we count down to the big reveal, we asked Kirsty to share some insight into her creative vision and process for the project.Here’s what she had to say...
How did Tom Pigeon come to be?
- “Tom Pigeon was established in 2014 by myself and my husband Pete. It was an extension of my previous creative practice but with more design-led values and a stronger graphic feel. “We wanted to create a wide range of objects and pieces that we would want to live with ourselves; pieces that are simple but have a feeling of playfulness and joy. In 2017, I took over the running of Tom Pigeon but our initial ethics and approach remain.”
How did the collaboration between Tom Pigeon and Roger Lewis come about?
- “Managing Director Marc Richard approached me to suggest a collaboration. I believe Marc is a personal fan but that some Tom Pigeon prints also hang on the walls at Roger Lewis. I think we have very similar approaches to colour, simplicity and craftsmanship.”
Both Roger Lewis and Tom Pigeon take inspiration from Scandinavian style, did this drive the creative concept behind the special-edition designs?
- “This Scandinavian approach drives all of my work to some degree but wasn’t the starting point for this project. We were interested to look at the origins of the Sintra range and its geographical references, so Portugal was our starting point.”
Could you explain the Sintra Castle connection?
- “The original Roger Lewis collection was called Sintra after a staff member’s favourite holiday destination, I believe. We were excited to explore the colour palette of this amazing place and it drove our development of the designs.”
Has terrazzo always inspired you?
- “Terrazzo is a beautiful surface – I love the randomness of it but also its association with Mediterranean holidays and mid-century architecture. There is something very interesting about trying to explore the feel of terrazzo but using a new palette and a series of shapes that relate back to the cutting patterns of the Sintra upholstery.”
Can you briefly take us through your creative process, from brief to finished product?
- “The Roger Lewis brief was quite open, so we started the process by exploring two factors – the palette of Sintra Castle and the construction of the upholstery on the original chairs. “We developed a geometric series of shapes by deconstructing the chair pattern and playing with the scale of each pattern piece. These were then hand drawn onto chair sketches to play with scale and rhythm. “Working with Marc, we narrowed down the initial designs and finally developed a final set, which range from very bold and colourful to a little bit more subtle!”
Your prints have been applied to many different interior products – from cushions to tiles and now furniture. How have you adapted your process for this particular project?
- “The process is always quite similar – really understanding what the needs of the client are, inspiration research, followed by shape and colour development.”
Have you enjoyed working with Roger Lewis’ Sintra chair and Longis/Braye stool pieces?
- “Yes! What a fantastic opportunity to work with an amazing British furniture company and extend my own design skills and product range.”
You’ve collaborated with esteemed art institutions including the V&A, the Barbican and the Tate Modern, how does the art world influence your work?
- “I am a visual sponge and find inspiration everywhere. The art world is just one of those influences and I am also hugely inspired by Modernist design and culture. At the same time I can be inspired by bits of plastic that wash up on my local beaches or old farming sheds on my way to the studio!”
Do you have a favourite Roger Lewis piece?
- “I have loved working on the Braye and Longis stools. I think pieces like these are a really simple but punchy addition to an interior scheme whether at home or in a hotel or workspace. I’m hoping I might add a couple to my new house!”
What type of setting would the Tom Pigeon x Roger Lewis furniture suit? Does each product in the range have its own narrative/setting in mind?
“I think there’s an opportunity for the chairs and stools to work across both domestic and commercial settings. I’d love to see them in a restaurant or hotel but equally I think they’d work really well in a Modernist interior.”
One of the furniture pieces is upholstered in Bute fabric - can you talk us through your selection process for the textures/colour of this?
“We wanted to work with Bute because it also has a similar approach to Tom Pigeon and Roger Lewis – British craftsmanship with a sense of playfulness and a great eye for colour.
“Adding a plain Bute fabric – Tiree Honey Bee – into the collection gives customers the option to mix and match between our bolder designs and something a bit more subtle.”
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