Interview: 60 seconds with Swyft’s Creatives

Interview: 60 seconds with Swyft’s Creatives

Creativity inspires creativity, so here’s a brief glimpse into our world. We sat down with our Design Director, Head of Creative and Graphic Designer to understand what it’s really like working for a sofa start-up, how they got into the industry and what inspires them. 

Pour yourself a herbal tea and meet the team. 

John O’Leary, Design Director 

Image: John's initial product drawings for Model 03 

Q: Coffee or Tea?
J: Coffee before 3pm. Tea after.

Q: What does a typical day look like for Swyft’s Designers?
J: At Swyft we currently have an R&D team made up of 6 designers/makers. We have multiple design projects on the go at any one time so our days are normally filled with research and concept design, and liaising with our factory and suppliers on the development of prototypes. We also work on existing designs to see if they can be further optimised for production, or improved in any way.

Q: What furniture designers do you love and why?
J: 1. Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner. Saw a retrospective of his work in Copenhagen many years ago which stuck with me - Quality, attention to detail and a real understanding of materials, and production techniques. Having this deep understanding of your craft allows you to experiment and push the boundaries of your profession, as exemplified by his CH07 chair.

2. Pierre Jeanneret, a Swiss architect and furniture designer, and cousin to Le Corbusier. His furniture shows a great sensitivity to materials and form, as exemplified by the work he did for the new city of Chandigarh in Punjab, India in the 1950’s. Work I find myself continually coming back to for inspiration.

3. Jean Prouvé - French metal worker, architect and furniture designer. His furniture combines an industrial aesthetic, with perfect form, and efficiency in production, ref. Standard Chair 1934.

Q: Any advice for those looking to get into the industry?
J: Do your research on design courses / universities and what they can offer you. Don’t settle for average or convenient, aim for the best course/uni your circumstances will allow. This will pay off in the long run. 

Once you graduate, be patient and persistent. Don’t take knock backs or criticism personally - take it on board, learn from it and use it as motivation to move forward and be better. Be always open to change and continual personal development. Keep up to date with new software and tools for designing, these constantly evolve and improve. 

Learn to work as part of a team and work on effectively communicating your ideas to others. This will be one of your strongest assets, designers don’t work in isolation. Finally, enjoy the process. It’s a fantastic industry to work in, and can be extremely rewarding. Like most things, the more you put in the more you get out.

Q: Favourite Swyft product and why?
J: Model 03. Due to its modularity, it presented a number of challenges - from design and production, to stock management and logistics. I was proud that we were able to overcome these issues without compromising on the original design intent of the product. It’s the sofa I have in my own living room, perfect for lounging and relaxing on.

Q: What can our followers expect from us in 2021, anything you can spill?
J: Among other things, we are currently working on the design of a new sofa bed, and a no tools case goods collection which will launch later this year!

Q: Sum up Swyft in three words.
J: Don’t accept compromise. (That’s our internal motto)

Kelly Collins, Head of Creative

Image: One of Kelly's moodboards for a photoshoot 

Q: Coffee or Tea?
K: I absolutely MUST start my day with a coffee, but then throughout the day I transfer to tea. Sometimes, to keep things interesting, I have a Peppermint tea. 

Q: What does a typical day look like for Swyft’s Head of Creative?
K: There’s definitely no standard day, I’m lucky enough to have involvement in a number of different parts of the business. 

One day I could be focusing on designing a location shoot for an upcoming product launch, the next day I could be working on a collaboration with an influencer or selecting new fabrics for our products.

Q: What's the best part of your job?
K: Working with so many people with completely different skill sets. Everyday I'm learning something new. This is one of the reasons I moved away from conventional interior design. I love that I get to work with such talented and passionate people. 

Q: Any advice for those looking to get into the industry
K: Network, network, network! 

Firstly, create a little black book of inspiring people in the industry. There is nothing better than getting advice and guidance from someone you look up to. I never stop adding amazing people into my life.

Be aware of what’s going on around you. The industry is so fast paced with new and innovative designs, product launches and more, that it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse. Make sure to get subscriptions to editorials like Architectural Digest and Wallpaper. Keep an eye on Pinterest, Instagram and websites like Dezeen.

There are many CAD programs that are used across the industry; including AutoCAD, SketchUp, Solidworks, 3DS Max, Revit. Have a look at what programs are used in the industry direction you want to go into. There and many courses available, be it online or with a College or University.

Be self aware. The design industry is all about people – clients, suppliers and colleagues – who you have to work with on a daily basis. Building a good rapport with them is extremely important. You never know when you may need to call on someone. Work hard, stay positive and stay passionate.

Q: What interior designers do you love? Who inspires you?
K: There are many designers I look up to. First one is Kelly Wearstler, she has her own style and she owns it. She isn’t bothered by the latest trends, she stays true to her unique style. I'm actually a little obsessed with her!

Another designer who inspires me is Ilse Crawford. She is not just an interior designer she is a product designer, author and journalist. She submerges herself into the environment she’s designing, making sure every aspect is perfect for the user. She’s always striving to design better spaces to live and work in. 

Q: Give us 5 quick steps on how to style a living room. 

  1. Clear all the clutter and unused items you have in the space.
  2. Lick of paint to freshen everything up.
  3. Find a sofa thats comfortable, timeless and durable 
  4. Accessorise with soft furnishing (cushions, thrown etc) 
  5. Have a selection of different lighting sources. Lighting can completely change the ambience of a space. A single space can go from working in, relaxing, reading a book, or watching a movie. All of these will need different types of lighting. 

Q: Favourite Swyft product and why?
K: Currently the Model 03. It's just bloody cool isn’t it. It's so comfortable and perfect for relaxing and watching a movie which is all I seem to do these days. 

Q: Sum up Swyft in three words.
K: Revolutionary, Edgy, Ingenious 

Erin Keiffer, Graphic Designer/ Videographer

Video: Example of Erin's ad designs 

Q: Coffee or Tea?
E: I’m an avid coffee drinker - I drink three cups in the morning because it gives me hype and puts me in a good mood. In the afternoon I drink tea, strictly English breakfast.

Q: What does a typical day look like for Swyft’s Graphic Designer/ Videographer?
E: Just like Kelly, no two days are the same. I’m either editing videos, scheduling social posts, designing social ads, or working on print. I spend most of my time working through after effects on Adobe Creative Cloud, Premiere Pro, Illustrator etc. Each day brings something new and challenging. 

Q: What’s the best part of your job?
E: I love working on the photoshoots - doing the filming and then afterwards editing it to make the content fit one continuous storyline. 

Q: Any advice for those looking to get into the industry?
E: Learn, learn, learn. 

Take your time to learn text animation and moving graphics - that'll get you further in your career quicker. Work on your portfolio, make it as polished as you can and highlight areas that make you stand out. For example, take classes on areas which aren’t necessarily part of the job but help boost your portfolio and overall skill set.

Q: What brands do you love? Who inspires you? 

  1. Nike: Inspiring videos that empower change through sport. Nike has a meaningful story, they’re selling more than a product; they’re selling aspirations. 
  2. Stories Studio: A branding agency, whose work (videos and photographs) is beautiful and  aesthetically pleasing. Stories Studio uses certain grains, overlays and all different typefaces which are appealing, it’s incredibly engaging and it looks smart. 
  3. Brit + Co is a media company that inspires, educates and entertains real women with a creative spirit. It’s all about women empowerment. They use fun, pops of colour with hand drawn elements in all of their work. 

Q: Favourite Swyft product and why?
E: Model 03 - the style is very on trend at the moment, it's a lounging sofa. I just love it, I want it. It looks good, it’s comfy (talking from experience) and is modular so you can build it to fit any space. What is there not to love? 

Q: Sum up Swyft in three words.
E: Versatile, Fresh, Effortless 

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If you’ve enjoyed this blog, check out the interview with our upholsterer for behind the scenes look at life in our Portuguese factory. Or for advice on which trends to follow this year, click here