In conversation with: Tom Pigeon

4 min read

Tom Pigeon - Solid silver cufflinks made in the UK


Tom Pigeon

Est. 2014 - Scotland, UK

"The Béton collection is inspired by the sharp shadows and strong lines of Brutalist architecture – spaces like the Southbank Centre and Barbican. We wanted to create a jewellery collection that was wearable, non-gendered and minimal, with a range of pieces that could be mixed and matched in simple combinations."
- Kirsty Thomas



10 questions for Kirsty Thomas, Co-founder of design studio Tom Pigeon, which is based in the East Coast of Scotland. She talks Charles Eames, brutalist architecture and sailing boats.

 
Jeya Narrative: You started Tom Pigeon as a husband and wife duo 4 years ago. What brought you to start your own business, how did it begin and how has it evolved since?

Kirsty Thomas: We were both already working in design, me (Kirsty) running a craft-design studio called Lovely Pigeon and Pete was teaching product design at the University of Dundee. My existing business had grown significantly over the first three years and I needed help. We decided that we should combine forces and rebrand to Tom Pigeon. The brand became less craft focussed and more design centred and we expanded the collection to include prints, homeware products and stationery. We now work with over a hundred amazing stores worldwide and create bespoke collections for places like the Barbican, Tate and the V&A. We have an amazing team who create all of our jewellery inhouse and ensure the smooth running of Pigeon HQ.

 

How did you come up with the name ‘Tom Pigeon' and what does it represent?

Tom Pigeon is a mash up of the old Lovely Pigeon brand and our surname, Thomas.

Tom Pigeon Béton collection

What does your brand stand for? What is its reason-to-be?

We make simple, crafted and affordable objects for people to use and enjoy. We always set out to create pieces that we would want to live with ourselves.

 

Who/what has been your biggest influences on your work?

Mid-century designers like Charles and Ray Eames, who refused to be pigeon holed and created work across so many genres and materials. Our multi-disciplinary approach has definitely been influenced by their amazing portfolio of work. We also love the colours and geometry of our local landscape on the East Coast of Scotland – harbour walls, sailing boats, travelling fairs, ice cream colours.

 

Describe your workshop and the environment you work in.

We work in a converted dairy in the middle of the Fife countryside. We look out over fields towards the North Sea and often spy deer walking past the studio. It’s a bright, modern space designed by architects Konishi-Gaffney and is part of a creative hub that includes a guitar maker, a knitter, a photographer, a vintage furniture restorer and a wood-turner. We have a veg patch and when the sun shines (which isn’t really that often in Scotland) we eat communally at the huge picnic table. Living the dream!

Tom Pigeon studio - interior
Tom Pigeon studio - exterior


Have you always been creative and interested in designing jewellery and accessories?

I have always been creative and studied design at university but fell into jewellery making as a hobby when I was teaching art in high school. This hobby has gradually grown into a full time job which I am very grateful for! I am interested in design across all disciplines and don't really see myself as a jewellery designer – I love working in print, textiles, product, and would love to explore things like weave and ceramics in my work.

 

What are the inspiration behind the Béton range? What did you seek to achieve with that range?

The Béton collection is inspired by the sharp shadows and strong lines of Brutalist architecture – spaces like the Southbank Centre and Barbican. We wanted to create a jewellery collection that was wearable, non-gendered and minimal, with a range of pieces that could be mixed and matched in simple combinations. We created the first collection in silver which is barrel rolled with ceramic to give it a matt finish and have recently launched a gold-plated range.
 

Tom Pigeon prints
Tom Pigeon prints

What are the creative processes involved in creating a range of jewellery?

We start by collecting visual inspiration – photos, materials, colour samples – and then work on paper to explore key shapes and develop a range of pieces that work really well together. We then develop prototypes in the workshop using non-precious materials before developing a final range of samples. Sometimes a collection can all be made in-house but we also work with etchers, laser cutters and casters where necessary to create certain pieces.

 

How are the Béton cufflinks made/manufactured?

An original Béton cufflink was created in-house using brass and this forms the template from which all future pieces are cast in silver. We then finish each cast piece in the studio, filing back to an accurate form and finishing in the barrel polisher.

 

Your range now includes a rug and a mobile, is there a particular object you would very much like to design and create one day?

I would love to work more with textiles and would really love to develop a large scale weaving or patchwork piece which explores colour, tone and geometry.

View of the sea


Lastly…

Place you call home: Cellardyke – an old fishing captain’s house in a tiny Scottish fishing village. 

A colour: Coral pink or deep deep navy
A movie or book: Pretty in Pink!
A sound: Blackbirds singing
A place: The Miro Foundation in Mallorca

Go-to accessory to dress to impress: I rarely dress to impress!
Most coveted item in your wardrobe: My old French farmers work jacket
Favourite tool to work with: A Muji fineliner pen and 5mm graph paper 
Favourite inspirational quote, or best piece of advice anybody ever gave you:Take your pleasure seriously.” - Charles Eames
Why Jeya Narrative? A beautiful curation of timeless, stylish pieces.




Tom Pigeon Mix & Match cufflinks midnight blue
Tom Pigeon Gold Beton cufflinks
Tom Pigeon Mix & Match Cufflinks forest green

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