Brian Tyrell, Product designerWhat’s your background?I graduated from Letterfrack in 2010. I did an internship with Shane Holland and then went on to work with him for two years. He works with a variety of materials — metals, plastics, as well as timber — so I learned a lot from him.I then sold kitchens for a while, when the recession was in full bloom, before taking a job with Thomas Montgomery in Bray. They upholster office furniture and that was really interesting because I had never done upholstery before. I did that for about two years. After that, I did office design, for about a year. It was at this point that I stumbled upon a communal workshop and decided to trade everything in and give my own company a go. I set up Bear Creation in 2015.It was always in my head to be multi-disciplined, and to use mixed materials, and never get stuck into doing just one type of thing. That’s why I would class myself as a product designer, rather than a furniture designer.I say to people that we have a company specialising in soft metals and timber, but we can switch it up and change it for different products.
Outline a typical workday
I arrive in about 6am or 6.30am. I like to be in the workshop that early because it gives me a few hours where I’m uninterrupted.
It’s a lot of production time. I like to use the middle of the day to do emails, meetings or for more workshop time and then use the evenings to design.
I would generally finish up around 5.30pm.
Tell us about a favourite project you have worked on?
One of my favourite projects was with Aran Woollen Mills. They asked us to design their stand for Showcase 2018 and we decided to build a house inside the RDS.
It was a great project where they allowed us to put Aran knitwear in a contemporary setting.
They asked us again in 2019 to build another stand next to the last one so it must have worked in sales for them.
What’s your design style?
When it comes to design within the company, we would have a very subtle, simplistic design ethos.
What inspires your work?
It can be the timber or material. I get inspired by fashion as well.
It could be patterns on fabrics or suit cuts — the way the tailoring is done, there is a structure to it and a simplistic beauty that emulates what I like to do with my furniture.
I like trends. A lot of furniture designers say they don’t like trends and that they don’t follow them, but we’re all influenced by them, whether you think you are or not.
There’s something cool and interesting about doing something new, it’s exciting.
A trend I can see coming in down the line would be the resurgence in postmodern, such as very bold colours in timber furniture.
It was very popular in the early 1980s — with blues and yellows and reds — but the furniture wasn’t that functional.
What’s your most treasured possession?
My Loyal Dean skateboard. It’s a beautifully laminated board, made of oak, mahogany, and walnut.
It’s a stunning piece.
Who is your favourite designer?
George Nakashima — he was a furniture maker that believed his furniture should be used and appreciated.
He would be a huge influence on my ethos.
Your dream project?
I don’t have a dream project. My projects are interesting and compelling to me. Sometimes the constraints a client gives you are the best.
If you’re given free rein, you can be stumped. I think designers need constraints, to make beautiful, functional design.
Have you any design tips?
Sketch — you don’t have to be a prolific artist or do those beautiful renders you see on Instagram.
Nobody in the industry draws like that on a daily basis. Draw lots of versions of what you’re trying to design.
Also, draw to scale, not just to sketch.
Bear Creation will feature in Irish Design Works 2019, an exhibition by designers and makers, which runs from July 15-28 at Tribeton, Merchants Road, Galway; admission free