Brian McKee is a furniture designer-maker based in Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Brian's primary constructional method is the steam bending of timber, which he employs to unlock the creative potential of bent wood in the design and production of useful and attractive, contemporary, hand made furniture.
Brian studied architecture (BA Hons.)and furniture design (MA) in England before working as a designer for Kilkenny Design Workshop in Ireland and then as the first designer and project manager for the charity DEMAND in London, designing equipment for people with disabilities.
He set up his studio in 1999 in a rural location near Ballynahinch, County Down.
As well as doing commissions in Ireland, Brian has exhibited and sold work widely in England and Wales, primarily as small batch production of limited edition designs.
He was awarded membership of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, in London, in 2000.
Brian took a break from furniture for about 10 years to work with his wife in a graphic design and photography business before making a return to furniture design and making in 2016.
He was a winner of The Rosemary James Memorial Award in 2017, administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
From 2018 and as a result of winning this award, Brian’s work took a new direction, designing and making furniture primarily based on the process of steam bending. This has involved much experimentation with process in order to develop suitable tooling and methods to facilitate not only current production but to enable ongoing future design and making.
Brian was selected for participation in the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts Annual Exhibition (Oct 20-Jan 21) and his rocking chair ‘Unwind 2’ was purchased by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their Collection in February 21.
Describing his work, Brian says: ‘As a designer my primary aim is to satisfy the practical requirements of the piece I am designing, in a way that is visually interesting or unusual. The design should be in harmony with its purpose, while also being appropriate for the production circumstances. As a maker I endeavour to do justice to the design I have created.’
Old Barn Studio, 9 Weir Lane, Edendarriff, Ballynahinch, BT24 8NY, Northern Ireland
‘Curved with Intent’ – an exhibition of contemporary design in wood. Venue: Craft NI Gallery; Dates: February 3 – March 27.