Jim Hannon-Tan Interview

Describe Linea in one word.

Linea (how could it be anything else?)

What was the original brief for Linea?
A bathroom shelf collection, but it has evolved as new possibilities emerged.

Is the final product what you first visualized?
This kind of project does not live in a vacuum. At the beginning there were many unknowns, and we responded to new samples and information as they emerged. So it has very much been a process, an exploration, which I think has lead to a much richer and original result.

Did Pen approach you with a game plan?
Yes. Pen had an excellent game plan, which really helped kick things off.

Biggest Aha moment
Making the decision to source some ready-made components, thus eliminating some production hurdles.

Biggest face palm moment
A manufacturer not knowing how to open a generic 3D file type…still an unsolved mystery.

Design Hero
Achilles Castiglioni

Jim Hannon-Tan for Alessi

Describe the creative process for Linea
After a few initial sketches and concept renders, we began to engage with manufacturers to give the project a firm footing in reality. The subsequent samples then informed the look and feel as we responded to the viscerally of the materials. We have also been using our in house 3D printer as an exploratory tool for the various functional elements of the collection. Coming at it from several angles like this allows the project to evolve organically.

What attracted you to work with Pen for their newest architectural accessory range, LINEA?
The enthusiasm and vision of Michael and Susan to create an Australian design brand.

Now that you are back in Australia how does the design scene differ to your experiences offshore?
Industrial design in Australia has often been seen as an auxiliary to industry, whereas in Europe it is often the core exercise. Italian design studios have evolved from Renaissance workshops, multidisciplinary practices for polymaths. Design in Australia has typically been defined by a certain brute pragmatism, which is probably a result of being a frontier country – things just needed to work. Having said that, the design scene in Australia has evolved greatly over the past 15 years to become far more interesting and diverse.

Jim Hannon-Tan for L’eclettico

When Collaborating with brands, do you find it requires a lot of negotiation and compromise or do you tend to work with companies that have a shared vision?
I think there is always a gap that needs to be bridged at the beginning as there are a lot of unknowns to navigate, especially with a start up. Everyone is used to working in different ways, especially in design. I am always astounded at how many different working models there are. I think the most successful design collaborations are long-term partnerships, where the partners establish a process based on a shared vision.

You have worked for some major international brands, what have been your most fulfilling experiences?
When working for Marcel Wanders, I designed and developed several projects for the French company Christofle. I worked with the Italian manufacturer Luigi Barei, well known for his Magis products. We developed a fantastic working relationship between Amsterdam and Venice, communicating through Whats App – photos, texts, voices messages (all in Italian) – with the occasional visit in between to develop some extremely high end designs in a very short time frame. It was fulfilling because it was a great team effort.

It seems impossible that you have produced so many products in such a short time! How do you keep up, stay inspired and keep on the pulse?
Travel and communication. I like meeting new and interesting people and experiencing new places. I have a keen eye for random details, always keep a sketchbook and collate ideas using the program, Evernote.  It is difficult to rush creativity, as you really need to be in the right spot emotionally and mentally to access the best insights. Unplugging every now and then and experiencing nature or exploring a city, are great sources of inspiration for me.