27 November 2014
Tom Pigeon is a creative studio established by husband-and-wife duo, Pete and Kirsty Thomas. Based in the small fishing village of Cellardyke on the East coast of Scotland, their work spans jewelry, prints, products and stationery, and takes its inspiration from the colors, shapes and patterns that abound in their coastal setting.
We spoke to Pete and Kirsty about their work as their precision etched Metalwork Ruler goes live to our shop.
How would you describe what you do?
We make simple, crafted objects for people to enjoy.
Where do you make your work? Can you describe your making process?
We don't have any particular rules about how we work or what we do, but over time we've developed some principles that guide us. We follow a simple process that starts with us getting inspired and informed. We work through loads of ideas, experiment and test things out until we reach a clear route that we, and anyone we're working with, are happy about. We refine it, question it, play a little more and eventually finalize our design.
Because we make a lot of what we design, the next stage probably involves us turning our design into something you can touch or hold. Often we'll make it ourselves in our studio in Cellardyke, or we'll work with other people who can do stuff we can't to get it made. We normally sell the things we make and at that point we talk with our customers and listen to what they say and the process starts again.
We try to keep our work simple, getting rid of anything that seems unnecessary until we're left with something that feels right. It's part process, part intuition and it changes from project to project. We think it's good to make the most of materials and processes and making stuff makes us happy. So does working with other people who really know and care about their craft. All this means we're always trying to better understand our process and improve our work, which helps to ensure its quality and make it affordable. We really care about what we do and the people we do it for. Whether we're talking to our customers, supplying our retailers or designing for our clients, we make sure we listen and do our best to make people happy. We think that it's worth trying to make things better and our work is designed to be enjoyed.
What tools and materials do you use in your work? Do you have a favorite material and is there a tool you couldn't do without?
We try not to restrict ourselves to specific materials or processes as we enjoy trying out new things. At the moment we're working a lot with sheet metal and Formica - Kirsty is spending a lot of time filing pieces so she's become quite attached to her trusty jewelry file. I am rather fond of my copper and rawhide hammer.
What initially sparked your desire to make your work and what drives you today?
We're both passionate about art and design; we met on an Art foundation course at University sometime back in the 1990s and we've been working in design studios and education ever since. This felt like the right time to do something that reflected the kind of design we enjoy and enabled us to work the way we want to work, rather than working for other people. A lot of it is about wanting to be in control of what you do and not having to compromise - we are control freaks.
Can you remember the first thing you made?
Neither of us were big makers when we were younger, it's only as we got older that we developed the patience and skills to really enjoy making. Saying that, I was obsessed by Lego when I was a kid and would happily sit making stuff for days on end. I made a table a few years ago which was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever made.
What do you feel the role of makers and designers is today?
I'm not sure I'm qualified to say what the role of these is and, although there are lots of people like us who design and make stuff, I think they're quite different disciplines with different responsibilities. For us I think we enjoy designing and making things that balance quality, craft and price. We enjoy making things well that are still affordable - which is quite difficult when you make in low quantities.
Who in the world would you most like to buy one of your products?
I'd be very happy to see Terence Conran using one of our rulers.
What's your next project(s)?
We'll be starting work on some new jewelry pieces in the new year and developing a new range of notebooks and stationery. We also have some exciting print and jewelry collaborations planned with a great gallery in London for an upcoming exhibition of Abstract Art.
Many thanks to Pete and Kirsty from Tom Pigeon - look out for news of their upcoming projects here. Tom Pigeon's metalwork rulers are now available in our shop.
Images courtesy of Tom Pigeon