In the world of design and artisan craftsmanship, some individuals embark on a journey so unique, they distinguish themselves, vividly, amidst a field of truly remarkable people. Lee Brennan is one such creative force.
His story is compelling. Threads of creativity, inspiration, collaboration, and an unencumbered drive to entertain curiosity creates – in our view – the beauty of what we now know as Lee Brennan Design.
Through Lee, we find an ever-present willingness to follow intuition, no fear of self-discovery, and little regard for how the rest of the world draws its lines.
‘Our business is confusing. I would love to see it from the outside with fresh eyes as I’m sure it seems very strange.’
In this journal, we delve into the sources of inspiration that fuel Lee’s innovative process, from family bonds and travel experiences to an admiration of fellow artists – including architects to chefs alike. Lee’s world is a vibrant bucking of tradition that resulted in a brand that does not revolve around a product, range, material or purpose, but a man with a design style that is quite recognisably his own.
The Confluence of Carpentry and Creativity
When does design start? I’m not really sure.
My obsession with architecture magazines started really early, that was the hook, I think.
These magazines were the compass that guided Lee towards the intersection of design and craftsmanship. Lee started at a large-scale commercial furniture factory after school and, unfulfilled, embarked on an apprenticeship in carpentry through Alan, a craftsman whose teachings Lee continues to attribute much of his style to. During the evenings of this apprenticeship, he completed a certificate in construction. At the time, his eye was trained on carpentry.
‘Carpentry became a vehicle to find the road into the world that existed in those (architecture) books. I didn’t realise any of it at the time and realised even later that it was actually interiors I was in love with rather than the structural.’
Certified and out of the gate, Lee worked and managed several worksites. After a couple of years working on large scale government projects, Lee had a revelation, ‘the building site was my personal hell.’ The return into the world of furniture began as a form of escapism while working on building sites.
‘Fast forward through time overseas, falling in love, completing an interior design diploma and looking inwards, LBD was started… My parents’ lawn mower shed being the humble workshop.’
What makes Lee Brennan’s story even more intriguing is his seamless transition into the world of jewellery. This is how Dayne and Lee first connected, the commissioning of Dayne’s wedding ring.
Jewellery: A Shimmering Escape
It kind of seemed absurd that something fun could be work, and still 15 years later I struggle with that idea.
The jewellery, much like the furniture, began as an outlet, a revisiting of a childhood hobby long forgotten. What began as a casual endeavour evolved organically over time, eventually merging with his passion for design. Lee Brennan Jewellery now comprises one of the larger sectors of his design firm.
Intriguingly, jewellery and furniture are perceived as distinct fields, each with its own set of challenges and creative processes. But for Lee, these mediums are akin to chapters in a beautifully written novel, woven together with passion and dedication.
That Lee’s wellspring of inspiration is diverse and nuanced should come as no surprise; his family coming first and foremost.
‘My wife Alex is as big a part of our business as I am, if not bigger. Hopefully we can build something our daughter Charlie will be excited and proud to be part of. Working for that vision and being a dad is nuclear power.’
‘It would be hard to leave out my parents from the inspiration equation.’
The influence of Lee’s parents is undeniable, coming from art-brained, driven workers. Their legacy instilled in him a profound respect for hard work and artistic pursuits.
Mistakes, in Lee’s view, are not just errors but sources of inspiration.
Externally, Lee finds inspiration everywhere in the works of fellow artists as evident in his extensive collection of books and imagery. Travel is a vital catalyst in Lee’s creative process, providing him with a deep source of inspiration from the great works of history to diverse global cultures.
Lee also draws creative fuel from the world of chefs, finding a resonance between the ‘trade’ life of cooking and craftsmanship. This connection transcends mediums, allowing him to derive inspiration from any art form driven by passion.
Design in Motion: Lee Brennan’s Collaborations
Lee’s work is a testament to his artistic vision and collaborative spirit. Over the years, he has collaborated with interior designers and architects, demonstrating how trust and synergy can result in unique creations that resonate with both his style and the vision of collaborators.
‘We have worked with a range of interior designers and architects, generally they have been kind enough to give us a lot of trust and space to develop pieces fitting with their vision and our style.’
One remarkable collaboration worth noting is his long-standing relationship with the Island Luxe family, which played a pivotal role in the development of his brand. This partnership not only allowed Lee the creative freedom to expand his horizons but also nurtured his work, leading to some of his most exceptional pieces. Custom design pieces has also seen long-term collaborative relationships with the Hemsworth family and 1924US over the years.
Great things come from collaborations; the word has been used to death though I’m glad for the question as it’s really nice to reflect on the connections we have made over the years.
Reflection on a Transformative Journey
Lee Brennan’s journey is a tale of transformation, from carpentry and furniture to the dazzling world of jewellery. His story reflects the fusion of creative worlds without boundaries, where the pursuit of passion can transcend mediums, resulting in a rich tapestry of design and craftsmanship.
As the driver of his own narrative, Lee Brennan continues to inspire, leaving us captivated by the flawless union of furniture and jewellery in his artistic world.