Whackpack Furniture is designed by Benny Magennis, a designer-maker from Co.Monaghan in Ireland. Having graduated from The National School of Furniture in London, he was shortlisted for the UK’s New Designer of the Year and named as one of 30 emerging talents in the world during London Design Festival. He has since been a member of the Design & Craft Council of Ireland and has exhibited in London, Paris and China and plans to exhibit in New York this coming August.
Tell us a little about your company: When did it form? What was the inspiration?
Launching this month on Kickstarter, Whackpack Furniture is an Irish contemporary furniture brand. It is a self-assembly inspired creation aimed at compact city-dwellers globally, for those who enjoy contemporary living and those accustomed to shrinking apartment sizes. Whackpack Furniture has created a new way to assemble flatpack furniture using a wedge, a mallet and some satisfying whacking strength.
The furniture itself is a fusion of traditional Japanese woodworking techniques with good old Irish bodging. “Bodging” is a wood-turning technique, used at length by the old Irish famine carpenter. It is manufactured with ash timber, a light-coloured, durable timber with coursed texture and a native timber of Ireland.
Whackpack Furniture’s flagship product, the “Wooden Creepie Stool” is a global appreciation and celebration of old Irish country furniture. It’s inspired by the architectural features of the old Irish cottage pre-famine era, which at the time had an important effect on seating and contributed greatly to the popularity of the 3-legged, wooden creepie stool.
In poor conditions, floors were composed of earth and solid rock making them gently uneven. Some cottages survived without chimneys, filling rooms with smoke from the fire meaning that seating was made remarkably low to keep heads beneath the wreaths of smoke. Almost every Irish-American ancestor who faced emigration could easily transport their small creepie stool on board their maiden ships and their onward journey.
What need or problem does your product solve?
Whackpack Furniture’s “Wooden Creepie Stool” defies the flatpack “fiddly-bit” hideousness that is very much the bane of people’s existence. It's a revolutionary new way to construct furniture without arguments. It allows you to vent some anger on how an industry impacts on your life and turn consumers into craftspeople just for one day. It uses wedges, mallets and some satisfying user strength.
Tell us about your industry: What was it like to break into? How have you shaken things up? Who are your competitors?
There is really no essential way to break into my industry which you would call the “Contemporary Furniture and Product Industry.” A lot of young designers tend to be put off design altogether as there are few opportunities to gain experience with the bigger, well-known brands.
I think from my initial venture into the craft industry with my local staircase craftsman extraordinaire, Peadar Greenan from Monaghan, you learn very quickly that it helps to have a lot of patience and staying power to work with projects and products and such is life. You really grow into your industry and something somewhere will find a place for you.
Thank the Lord, Whackpack Furniture is getting its chance to shine. I think that it’s currently a great time to be a creative designer—being it designing products or making them. You have so many social media and crowdfunding platforms to show off your wares.
What are your plans for 2015-16?
We hope to roll out Whackpack Furniture online across the European and American markets. We have a few more products to iron out and hope to bring them to market in the not too distant future. We don’t plan to go into Whackpack overload with product. That would be exhausting!
Will maintaining your identity as an Irish company be important to you?
You are your product or so they say. I think Whackpack Furniture has a little bit of mischievous Irish wit. I do not think that can outgrow you! Our branding is important and it is something that I love to be involved in.
What advice do you have for other people/companies starting out in your industry?
Enjoy being persistent.
See Benny's Kickstarter campaign below and click here to donate.