Old Furniture, a poem by Dorset born Thomas Hardy, is an ode to beauty of furniture being handed down the generations, and David Irwin’s Hardy Barstool is a classic in the making.
Two chair typologies from the 19th century, Thomas Hardy’s birth century, inspired its design: firstly the Captain’s chair originally a low-backed wooden armchair and secondly, the Smokers bow, a low back Windsor, often used in smoking rooms, public houses, barbers shops and cottages.
David Irwin is an industrial designer driven by a curiosity for how and why things are made. For Irwin, design ideas grow from a desire to assign purpose to both traditional and contemporary manufacturing processes.
Originally from Northern Ireland, Irwin was drawn to Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, by its reputation for hands-on teaching and a holistic approach to 3-D design.
In 2007, he was awarded the New Designers Peter Walker Award for Innovation in Furniture Design with his final project, a steam-bent timber frame chair. The Jed chair gave a contemporary twist to the traditional aesthetic of a lounge chair by utilising the inherent properties of timber through steam bending and natural soap flakes as a finish, to create very few environmental disadvantages. The chair also caught the eye of Bethan Gray, then Design Director at Habitat, who thought it would work well within the Habitat collection, giving David his first taste of the manufacture and retail process.
In 2010, Irwin completed a post-graduate fellowship in the Designers in Residence Program at Northumbria’s School of Design, a program that furnishes workspace, equipment and mentoring to chosen graduates of the 3-D Design program. A year later, he founded his own studio in Newcastle, where he has continued to produce designs which combine strong conceptual thinking with a fundamental usefulness, resulting in simple, innovative and refined solutions to aid our daily lives.
"I suppose the satisfaction I get from seeing an idea make the jump off paper and into reality is the reason I became a designer."- David Irwin.