When I received an email regarding a new New Zealand-based design and manufacturing company, Fitzsimons I couldn't help but sit up and take notice. Founded by Scott Fitzsimons, the company's commitment to producing original and beautiful furniture is clearly evident in their inaugural product, a beautifully crafted chair known as Éan. A result of two years of design and development, Éan is elegantly simple yet sophisticated, a union of clean lines and beautiful materials.
"We are absolutely uncompromising in our pursuit of quality. We are devoted to making products that are environmentally and socially responsible. We love what we do and we aspire to instil that passion into every product we create." The company and designs they produce are built upon a philosophy of simplicity, timelessness and permanence. While it may still be early days, Fitzsimons has a lot more design pieces in the works, in the areas of both furniture and lighting. Not unlike the Éan chair, they promise to be authentic, functional and enduring to last for generations to come.
To help tell the story of Fitzsimons so far, Scott has very kindly answered some questions for us.
Can you tell us a bit about your background - your studies, furniture manufacturing experience, travel etc?
I've always been facinated by architecture and design. I studied Industrial Design at Victoria University of Wellington, and then from there I’ve tried my hand at a number of things from designing exhibitions for gallaries to designing sports protection equipment, to luxury showers and tapware. I've had work exhibited in London, Milan and Stockholm and have been lucky enough to travel, and to live and work abroad.
What led you to the launch of your own design and manufacturing company?
It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do, but I wanted to further my experience first before launching a company, which is perhaps why it took me so many years. Through that industry experience I have been fortunate enough to work alongside a number of incredibly talented people, working across a number of different design disciplines. I consider myself very lucky to have that experience behind me, which has enabled me to launch Fitzsimons.
You’ve just released your first product, Éan. What was the inspiration behind this product?
The inspiration behind Éan came from the idea of a wing wrapping around the users body, allowing the user the freedom to move and sit in various positions, without ever compromising on comfort. That inspiration also led to the name Éan, meaning bird in Irish.
Two years in the making, there has clearly been a lot of passion, energy and focus around getting this product right. Can you tell us about the process during that time? Would I be right in guessing you're a bit of a perfectionist?
Absolutely. I spend a huge amount of time obsessing over the details, even the ones that remain unseen. It’s a constant process of reducing and refining the design in pursuit of simplicity. The length of the design and development process for any product like this can vary greatly. Each design can throw up its own set of challenges and some take longer to work through than others. The two years for the development of Éan started with an initial concept sketch, and then evolved through countless iterations throughout a process of building card models, ergonomic testing, building rough functional prototypes, strength and duralbility testing, tool production, manufacture, photography, etc….
Where can you see Éan fitting in terms of residential homes, offices etc?
I think Éan can fit into either a domestic or commercial environment. It works equally well around a dining table in a residential home, as it does in a restaurant or around a board room table.
What inspires you - other designers, travel, the web etc?
For me inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere.
What can we expect to see from Fitzsimons in both the coming months and further down the track?
Over the coming months I hope to build the profile of the brand and establish a retail network throughout New Zealand and abroad. In the future, I would like to work towards releasing a new product/range every year in order to grow the collection. Im also very keen on the idea of collaborations, and working on some projects with other designers/artists throughout New Zealand.
Right now I am working on a new range of seating, a number of tables and various lighting pieces too. Watch this space.
What advice would you give to those looking to branch out on their own in this industry?
I would say that you have to live and breathe design, and never ever stop.
Photo credit: Matthew Wood