Liam Hardman is the founder of Hardman Design, a company with roots in both Britain and German and who design and hand-make a range of furniture. Sara Walker finds out more about how Liam came to set up his company and how he moved from his first love, music, to creating beautiful furniture.
“I come from a family of builders, and my dad trained as a stonemason and worked as a general builder for 40 years,” says Liam. “I did an internship with him when I was 16, and discovered I loved working with my hands and creating something – it gave me a real feeling of fulfilment.
“At the time, though, my real passion was music. I studied for a degree in sound design and was lucky enough to have the chance to go out to Berlin, home to the famous Berlin Atonal festival, and still the place to be if you’re interested in electronic music. I got an internship as a sound technician and discovered that I loved the atmosphere and energy of the city. My job varied from checking the digital sound quality of Lana de Rey’s albums to digitising the entire back catalogue of a trash metal band!
While living and working in Berlin, I made a table for my partner of the time and we liked the design so much we decided to try and sell it online. It proved very easy to sell and I soon had a side project going making the tables. In 2012, my internship came to an end and I was offered a job. At exactly the same time, I had to commit to signing the contract on a small workshop I’d rented to make my furniture projects – that was quite a stressful time! That was in the January, and by the end of May I was earning more from my woodwork than from my full-time job.
“I’m pretty much self-taught when it comes to woodwork, and I really enjoyed the whole process of training myself, finding the problems and teaching myself how to solve them. I’ve never really wanted to work with anything else but wood, I like the precision of it as a material. I got advice from everyone I could find and watched a lot of videos!
Liam’s designs are influenced by the Bauhaus movement, a German school of design which was established after the First World War and which sought to unify aesthetics with function to create an end result which was both stylish and practical.
“Designing at the beginning was a matter of inspiration and playing with ideas,” he says. “Now, the process is more customer-driven, and also a lot more collaborative with the other members of the team. By the end of that summer, I’d made my first big project which was a large dining table. That meant we could really take things to the next level. There have been a few challenges along the way – for example, our MARTA dining table was based on an original design and we had to upsize it in response to demand.
We had to redesign it to allow for the increased scale, so we used a steel apron (frame), which allowed it to be stronger without spoiling the sleek, pared down design and it’s now one of our best sellers.
“Now, eight years on, I have an excellent team working with me so that we can work on a larger scale without compromising on quality and craftsmanship. I’ve moved back to the UK, and am able to spend more time behind the scenes which is working very well. Fortunately, as we’re an online-only company and have no showroom we all work remotely and we have excellent lines of communication in place, which is standing us in good stead in the current situation.
“In the future, I’d like to expand the range a little to be able to offer more beds – they’re time-consuming to make so aren’t in everyone’s budget, but what we have so far is selling well. I’d also like to offer more seating to go with the tables. We’ll have to see what the future brings.”
To find out more about Hardman Designs or to buy online, visit www.hardmandesigns.com.
All images (c) 2020 Hardman Design.0