Ben Rigby: Haberdasherylondon

by Kate Andrews | April 20, 2010

Converging art, design and engineering, Haberdasherylondon is a next level design agency whose portfolio of work range from art and sculpture, film and media to industral and product design solutions. Run by creative trio Daniel Siden, Ben Rigby and Mac Cox, Haberdasherylondon fuel research and development for a range of clients including Selfridges, Sony, The British Film Institure, Nokia and light artist Chris Levine. We spoke to Ben Rigby this week to delve a little deeper into the multidisciplinary world of Haberdasherylondon.

Notes on Design: Hi Ben! So firstly, can you give us a brief insight into who you are and what you do?

Ben: I am one of three founding partners at Haberdasherylondon, a design agency converging art, design and technology, frequently specialising in light related projects. Our work is fuelled by R&D from ‘Hablab’, our in house programme which develops new materials, techniques and technologies into workable creative solutions for ambitious brands.

Notes on Design: How did your career start?

Ben: My background is in fine art and editorial photography, which carried me into the film industry and onto cinematography and art direction. Within Haberdashery these skills help to bind together the ideas developed with partners Mac Cox (Production Design/Product Design) and Daniel Siden (Engineering/Industrial Design).

Notes on Design: How did HaberdasheryLondon come about?

Ben: Mac, Dan and myself shared a studio as freelancers, and whilst learning about how each others disciplines crossed over, we identified a strong benefit in working together from an early stage on projects. For instance, why does a director of photography only chat with an art director just before a shoot? Surely it makes sense to work closely to develop a set design in conjunction with a camera methodology. This approach to creativity leads to more ‘play time’ and thus far superior creative results. We value a fine art approach underpinned with good design theory, process, and practice, solid engineering and project management.

Notes on Design: What is the driving focus behind the work of Haberdasherylondon?

Ben: We aim to push for creative results which help to strengthen our client’s brands position. Our designs are often bespoke, using new materials and technologies to create a bold statement of intent. By creating these works inhouse, we are becoming known as an agency capable of more unusual and abstract solutions.

Notes on Design: What would you say was your creative break?

Ben: We were lucky enough to be given an open brief by Selfridges&Co within the first couple of months of our companies life. Four window sculptures were created for the concept store on London’s Oxford Street which received good press and laid down a mark of intent for Haberdashery.

As well, our company has always had an excellent relationship with the revolutionary light artist Chris Levine. We design and engineer all his technical and sculptural works. We share a common appreciation of light with Chris, and although we have a different approach to design and aesthetics, we work very well together, to know Chris as well as we do is to be inspired and uplifted.

Notes on Design: What has been the pivotal piece of work you are most proud of?

Ben: Last year we collaborated with Softroom Architects, Freeform Engineering, KLH, Atelier One and BBC sound designer Chris Watson to create the Termite Pavilion for the Pestival event on Southbank. The pavilion was a 6m x 6m x 6m replica of the internal area of a giant Namibian termite mound. It was filled with vibrating light and sound to create an immersive environment illustrating the energy and air movement within the space used by termites for communication via the transfer of pheromones.

Notes on Design: What are you working on at the moment?

Ben: Currently we are working on several exciting bespoke light sculptures for client Candy&Candy. Working with C&C is a great match for us as they produce 100% bespoke interiors and architecture for an extremely elite cliental. We’ve just completed on two designs for their the ONE Hyde Park Corner development. We’re extremely proud of these projects and we feel that they have taken us to a new level. And, with world leading artist James Turrell also providing works for the site, the pressure was on.

HabLab is taking off as well, with several fascinating ongoing research projects on behalf of two major international materials manufacturers that we are not yet at liberty to name. Stay tuned!

Notes on Design: Do you have any self-led projects you’d like to tell us about?

Ben: We each have our own areas we push within the company. Mine has been researching potential projects for Wellcome Trust funding. Currently I am looking into the problem of awareness about long term pain sufferers, and how through light and sound we can communicate to families and the wider public the often hidden problems of cyclical pain management.

Notes on Design: What was 2009 like for you, and what does 2010 hold?

Ben: 2009 was a tough year for the design industry. Through hard work, we managed to grow during this difficult time. Projects had more challenging budgets, and clients suffered from cold feet! However by the end of the year we started to notice a real shift in the industry; a strong awareness of the strength in collaboration which has led to more open minded thinking about a how a project team can be assembled. This approach is exactly how we work within Haberdashery, so we are now seeing several new partnerships paying off and we are extremely positive about 2010 and the many new projects on our horizon.


The new Haberdasherylondon website goes live later this month, but find out more about the team here: Haberdasherylondon.com

Designer and writer Kate Andrews was the original editor of Notes on Design blog, founded in 2007.

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