MEET THE TENANTS: BEN RIGBY, FOUNDER OF HABERDASHERY

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As part of a series of interviews profiling Design District’s tenants, we talk to lighting designer, creative director and co-founder of Haberdashery, Ben Rigby, about hard work, generosity and finding the space to be creative.

Originally coming from a background in the film industry, Ben Rigby, Daniel Siden and Mac Cox co-founded Haberdashery to innovate within and explore the potential of light, encouraging playfulness and creative freedom. While they do lighting design – and executed the lighting design in collaboration with Roz Barr Architects for Design District’s members club, Bureau – Haberdashery has produced outdoor lighting sculptures, work for the Shard, the Welcome Trust & Foster + Partners, among many others globally. As Haberdashery relocate from their Dalston office to Design District, we ask Rigby to shine a light on the creative industries and what he’s looking forward to.

Design District: Welcome to the neighbourhood! Tell us more about Haberdashery, your design studio.

Rigby: Haberdashery is a lighting design studio creating lighting centre pieces for ambitious architects and interior designers. We offer collections of products for luxury and contemporary markets and also create award winning bespoke sculpture for landmark spaces, all built around a strong sense of narrative.

What was the inspiration behind setting up Haberdashery?

I met my business partner Mac Cox in the film industry as DOP and Production designer respectively, and discovered we both shared a passion for light, spatial design and telling stories through this medium. We harnessed this shared interest and recreated the can-do attitude of teamwork from the film industry into the world of bespoke lighting along with the third original partner and engineer extraordinaire Daniel Siden from San Francisco.

 

 

While Haberdashery is a lighting design studio, your team seems to be comprised of a range of different backgrounds and specialisations. How important is collaboration to the work of Haberdashery?

 Each project we work on whether it be a product development or an 80m long sculpture needs a large amount of collaboration; this can be with structural engineers or material specialists, programmers or other artists. By harnessing each collaborator's strengths and knowledge we can broaden the ambition of each Haberdashery design.

 

As an industry, design is famously competitive. What keeps you motivated?

 Although we have won many awards for both products and bespoke work, it is the experience of the process that is the biggest reward. We believe culture is key to a successful business; we are a large extended family who work together for the greater cause. The best thing for me is when a client realises what we are really about after a project and then recommends us to someone. Often it is how we sort out the problems on a project that can build reputation, not just the wonderful designs.

Can you name a project that you've worked on that you felt like a dream commission/job?

After working so hard at building our studio I think both Mac and I are most proud of the quality of clients who we now work with and who acknowledge our place in the lighting design industry; companies like Selfridges&Co, British Land and Foster+Partners choose who they work with very carefully, and we are delighted to have gone on creative journeys with them to create stunning sculptural centrepieces.

 

Are there any upcoming jobs that you're particularly excited about, or any spaces/buildings/sites that you've been dying to do some work around?

We are about to install a fantastic sculpture in a prominent London landmark this autumn, to be featured on Dezeen; that is about all I can say at the moment.

 

What would you be doing if you hadn't set up Haberdashery?

My passion is creating worlds expressed through light and form; originally, I hoped to forge a career as a cinematographer where this manifests itself as a pillar of the film making team. Studying this discipline is a huge commitment in time and fees, so it has sat on the back-burner during which time the world has moved from celluloid to digital mediums. One day I hope to pick it up again and make films with other like-minded souls. For now the world of haberdashery and three kids keep me far too busy!

What would you say to someone who wants to work in your field /what have been some of the most significant hurdles that you've had to overcome since you started Haberdashery?

 Initially getting started in any creative field takes a huge amount of hard work and a willingness to learn from your mistakes. You don’t have to find people who share the same aesthetic; it is far more important to find people who share the same work ethic and culture. Seek out kind, generous of nature people and enjoy the process as well as the end results. Having sound, realistic business advice is essential; find a patient accountant with experience of the creative sector to help you grow and seek out mentors who have trodden the path before you.

What drew you to Design District? Is there anything in particular that you were interested in about it?

Initially the architecture and its proximity to the Magazine London venue; it was the step up we required and has allowed us to improve our organisation with dedicated workshop, studio and showroom in three specialist spaces on the peninsula. After lockdown and the strains of the past year or so a fresh start is most welcome. It feels like Haberdashery has arrived after a long and winding journey.

What's next for Haberdashery? How do you believe that a tenancy at Design District will affect not just your day-to-day workflow, but also that of Haberdashery as a whole?

Having a showroom will allow us to be in control of a permanent space to showcase our products and develop this commercially. It will act as a springboard for us focusing our brand and introducing a wider audience to our designs.

 

What was the inspiration for the lighting for Bureau?

Our designs for Bureau in collaboration with Roz Barr Architects are very utilitarian; they are clean cut and efficient, celebrating the purposeful approach to the Design District with form following function. We are known for our beautiful designs, but we also create lighting solutions that are technically considered with simple maintenance in mind.

 

Where can people see your work?

We have representatives around the world who are listed on our website, but in the UK from September you can visit our new showroom in the district for a personal tour of our product collections or visit our stand at Design London a few minutes away.

Our sculptures reside in over 30 countries, but a good introduction to our approach to lighting sculpture can be seen in the Wonder Room at Selfridges&Co on Oxford St, or in the foyer of Principal Tower visible from the street and best viewed at night.