As the London Design Festival approaches we’ll be covering some of the designers featuring at the event. This week we caught up with Leo Scarff, the man behind Hiberform, a design outfit based in north west Ireland.
First of all – a little background on yourself. We know you’re based in Manorhamilton, North-West Ireland now, but where are you from and what’s led you to this point?
I’m originally from Dublin and started my studio there back in 1997 however I have family connection with the north west and decided to move here 3 years ago and set up a new studio in the wilds of Leitrim. I have always wanted to live in the country for a while and the nature of our work allows us to do that. Many of our projects and products use high tech manufacturers who receive emails from us with drawings to produce components. We then get them shipped to us and we assemble in the studio. I feel it is much easier today to work in remote areas because of the speed of the internet, manufacturing capabilities and courier services
What or who inspired you to get into this industry?
I have had many inspirational people in my life – my father for a start who was an enthusiastic DIY man, my brother David – a sculptor, lecturers at college and numerous designers such as Alvar Aalto, The Eames, Pierre Chareau and Carlo Molino
The Hiberform collection includes some a lot of screens and sculptural structures – what was the inspiration behind this and where did your ideas come from?
A number of years ago during the depths of our recession in Ireland I felt to need to develop some new products that perhaps were not so available on the market such as innovative screens and sculptural structures. So, the studio developed some ideas and these formed the backbone of the new brand. A college thesis back in 1994 researched the relationship between natural form and structure and furniture through the years so all this research has been with me since, poping up in various products over the years. Science and technology are huge inspirational factors in the development of all my work. The natural world too has produce some of the most incredible structures which we still cannot comprehend and try to mimic. This inspires me.
How collaborative is your work?
The studio works closely with numerous high tech manufacturers and we have a team of specialist assemblers and consultants on our projects so we always use the best knowledge and skill for the job
If you could collaborate on piece with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
The RAR chair from 1950 by Charles & Ray Eames http://eamesdesigns.com/catalog-entry/rar-1950/
I feel this is a beautiful piece of design work because of the poetic combination of form, structure and material in exquisit proportion. The 3 elements are perfect in every way and the rocking base adds a playfulness lacking in so much design today.
Lastly – what’s next for you?
Well, we launch our brand in London next week at the London Design Festival, then return to work our way through several orders for products. We have a shipment of Lightweave Stack Floors lamps to manufacture for a client in Stockholm and we are also developing the Hiberform Geodome product into a version for an Irish Children’s Book Publishing house as a Kids playhouse. The end of the year sees us create a large installation with our Snowflake product for the National Museum of Ireland