We are thrilled to be launching our new blog series Out & Out Insider. Each month we’ll get inside the heads and possibly the homes of designers, makers, experts and people of interest. It seemed fitting to kick the series off by speaking to none other than Daniel Fairburn, the creative mind behind Out & Out Original.
After graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2005 with a first class honours degree in Business and Marketing, Daniel relocated to Saigon, Vietnam where he moved into the furniture industry and took up the illustrious role of Head of Product Development and Marketing at ScanCom International. During his six years there, he worked with a number of high profile clients including IKEA, Laura Ashley, BoConcept and the Home Retail Group who own Argos and Homebase.
The time was well spent – not only did Daniel develop numerous successful product ranges, but the relationships he cultivated with suppliers and skilled producers proved invaluable. When Daniel’s passion for designer furniture led him to launch Out & Out Original in 2013, the strong relationships he had built up over the last six years meant he continued to collaborate and was able to secure UK exclusivity with these partners.
For the first in the Out & Out Insider series, Daniel tells us all about his love of mid century modern, where he finds his design inspiration and he spills the beans about his favourite O&OO design...
What is the first piece of furniture you bought and why?
When I was 21 years old and moved to Vietnam after University, I had not lived away from home and ended up living in a small two bedroom apartment with a guy from Belgium. Without much money and without knowing the city at all, I bought an artificial leather sofa from a company that was exporting sofas to Europe for about £200. After a year the leather peeled off and became all patchy and cleaning it just made the peeling issue worse, so it became a war of attrition between peeling leather and living with a mucky sofa. I won’t divulge but let’s just say I swore from then on to buy fabric (like the O&OO Clarence retro three Seater sofa below), or real leather!
What is your most treasured piece?
That would have to be a mirror that my mother in law designed and which stands proud in our living room. She is a really talented fashion designer who is so creative she can turn her hand to anything. It’s actually more a piece of art which we’ll keep for generations. I want to develop a range with her for O&OO but haven’t got around to it yet. Definitely on the bucket list!
What is your top tip for furniture care?
Start caring for your furniture before you have bought it! What I mean is be very mindful of the materials used, whether you are buying lounge furniture or designer garden furniture, look for pieces that will last. Labour skills are quite well controlled and regulated in the modern world, but where retailers tend to cheat is on material selection. Make sure the materials are right for the price you are paying - they don’t have to be the best but don’t pay over the odds for a material which won’t last.
Where do you find inspiration for the furniture you design?
I browse Pinterest quite a lot and visit fairs like the Milan Furniture Exhibition (below) to see the very best professionals at work. To be honest, I design furniture that I personally like - I rarely think about who it is “targeting” as the marketing guru’s tend to recommend - and just trust that people like my taste.
Do you have any advice for anyone who hasn't found their own interior style - how can they make their home their own?
I don’t think there is such a thing as your own ‘interior style’ because it’s a constantly changing target depending on where you are in your life. When I was younger I wanted to be surrounded by modern things and technology but these days I tend to like the more comfy and warm textures and looks such as deep sofas and natural wood. However, to make your home your own is something slightly different. I tend to think back to when I was growing up and try to remember what made me feel warm and fuzzy and hope the details pop up. We used to live in old Victorian terraces up in Leeds, which were bitterly cold in the winter and each room had original fireplaces where we would have a flame fire rather than central heating. Curling up in front of that at 6am in January was a dream. I tend to gravitate towards that idea in my idyllic home because it evokes quite strong memories for me – but everyone is different!
What would you say is your primary furniture style or influence for your own home?
My own furniture style would be a hybrid between mid century modern design and a more contemporary style. I love natural wood and the warmth it brings but tend to stay away from the really mid-century stuff like my grandmother had growing up - that’s too old fashioned for me.
Do you have a favourite piece on O&OO?
Of course! Most people say “I have so many favourites it’s difficult to choose one, etc, etc”, but for me there is only one winner which is what is sitting in my dining room: the Theo Dining table and Theo Dining Chair (above) from District Eight Design. The quality of the build, feel of the wood and design details make it my favourite set…..at the moment!