Bristol is a city of innovation, creativity & style. There’s always something unique catching our eye that we want to find out more about. So when we stumbled across the work of Barfoot + Duggan – two local designers creating vibrant & interactive pieces to brighten up your home – we couldn’t resist catching them for a chat. This week, we held a brief discussion with the duo to find out what they’re all about.
Hey Lucy & Lucy – How’s things? Juggley but fun. We are doing two jobs for the price of one at the moment – getting Barfoot + Duggan off the ground and managing the final 5 months of The Happiness Project, our initiative to promote Bristol’s health and wellbeing.
Could you tell us what Barfoot + Duggan is all about? Cheering people up with our light, bright and playful take on home decor. As a partnership, two women called Lucy, we value working hard and having fun at the same time. We’re having fun learning to run a commercial business – something we’ve never done before.
When did the project begin? We opened our online shop in April last year but there was a good six months of hard work to do before we were ready to go.
Are you both from Bristol or did other projects bring you guys together here? Duggan came to do her degree here in 2000, I moved here in 2009 after graduating from mine. Just after I got here I spotted an ad seeking ‘To Do’ lists for an art project that Duggan had posted on Gumtree and I went to meet her in person because I was collecting shopping lists for an art project. That’s how our partnership began and it’s been strange and wonderful ever since.
What sort of designs & creation can people find on your website? We design all of our own products here in Bristol. Barfoot + Duggan designs are pretty distinctive and I suppose what makes them our own is a vibrancy in the pieces; a playful use of colour and slightly off the wall feel to them. Maybe a bit eccentric. We’re big on making things in England too, so plenty of UK manufacture is involved.
Huge fans of the David Bowie mobile! We were wondering where you draw inspiration from with your designs? Do you put your heads together & work on a single project at once, or do you both venture off & create different things? We bounce ideas around and then either co-create or go off and make things that we later present to each other. It’s not very structured creatively but we have been having Monday morning meetings for six years now, so there is a method to the madness. We loved making our mobiles because when we were spending too much time on the computer, making mobiles allowed us to take our eyes off the screen, get messy and be more creative.
We have a few friends who are totally obsessed with cats & noticed you also create bespoke mobiles! Have you had any particularly unusual requests? Making mobiles is relatively new, but so far we’ve been commissioned to make a cat and camera mobile (for a photographer who loves his cat), characters from Ice Age, a basset hound and yoda.
What’s your favourite part about the creation project? The whole process is what we love. All the different stages and set-backs and changes of plan combine to make a really interesting and unpredictable progression that demands a lot from us both. The feeling of growing and getting somewhere, that inward drive that cuts through the obstacles… that is what we run on.
Do you have a favourite piece or do you share equal love with all your creations? Our monster designs will always be a bit of an emblem for us. The monster motif could be read as saying: ‘life is too silly to be scared’.
You also offer a free ‘Having Fun’ course, right? What’s this all about? We’ve learnt a lot during our 5 years spent running The Happiness Project and want to keep sharing our ideas about happiness and having fun – writing a short e-course seemed like the perfect way. We have a page on our website where people can sign up for it. It’s free and has some fun homework in it.
What’s the future got in-store for Barfoot + Duggan? We’d love to become a household name. We’d like to have a huge and varied collection of items for the home under our belt. Travelling to New York with a sample case of wares and a life-long, prosperous work relationship that makes other people happy and us happy too.
When you’re not busy designing & making, is there anywhere in Bristol you like to head to & unwind? We’re both members of Henleaze swimming club, a secret lake in an old quarry in Bristol. It’s surrounded by willow trees and remains largely unchanged since the twenties. The coldest water in the world, too.
Any bars & restaurants we should check out? The Bell in Kingsdown is a delightful little boozer, and Duggan’s local. We think Grace on Gloucester Road takes tapas to the next level and does terrific cocktails too. Barfoot’s favourite pub is Small Bar on King Street for beer and mugs of macaroni cheese.
Anything else you’d love to add? Buy one of our duvets. They’ll become collectors items.