Dan Hoolahan launched Utology in 2015 and in May 2016, his debut collection was awarded, ‘best newcomer’ at Pulse London. In his early days Dan started out making in his parents garage but he has long since outgrown his parents garage and just one look at his beautifully understated and functional designs and you can immediately understand why.
The Utology contemporary Wooden Wall Hooks by Dan are the latest addition to our homeware collection. With a minimal but functional design, the hooks look great on the wall and are perfect for hanging coats, towels, dressing gowns or clothes. The clean lines of the hooks give a timeless aesthetic, perfect in almost any interior. Each hook is handmade from solid Ash and available in its natural untreated state or “scorched”. The “scorched” hooks have been blackened using a blow torch, which gives each hook a unique finish with tones of the wood visible below the scorched surface. The scorched hooks are also lacquered to prevent any transfer of the scorched wood.
We are loving these new hooks and so we were keen to find out more about Dan and Utology.
Who & what is Utology?
I am a designer who has been working in a very cross disciplinary way for the past few years. To the point where it can be quite difficult to explain what exactly I do. I started Utology as a way of separating one aspect of my work and having a clearly defined brand. So Utology is a collection of objects for the home, which are very simple in form, but designed for functionality and everyday use.
How did you get to where you are today?
I studied 3D Design at Falmouth University. I spent some time doing internships and applying for product design jobs but didn’t have much success. I decided to make the most of being out of work by adding some more skills to my CV, so bought some basic woodworking equipment and set it up in my parents garage. I set myself some projects and its all gone from there really. I started selling some pieces, which led on to commissions and then freelance projects. It reached a point where I decided I had too many different things going on, which made it very difficult to know how to brand myself and to target a particular market, so I started Utology in 2015 with a clear identity in mind.
Where are you based & why?
I’m based in Liverpool. I grew up just outside the city and know it well so it made sense to start my business here. I have friends and family here, so this is where the support is. I also have a network of useful contacts who have been a valuable part of my journey. It’s a relatively small city so nothing is ever too far away, and it’s really easy to get to the countryside or beaches.
Can you describe a typical working day for you?
I start the day with a cup of tea whist browsing Instagram. Usually work from home for the first half of the morning, going through emails, ordering supplies, sketching and admin. Then I’ll head over to my workshop. Once there I’ll have another cup of tea and work through orders. I try to group tasks together so I might be planing rough sawn timber, milling keyhole slots in a batch of hooks, glueing and hand sanding. If there’s time I’ll prototype new ideas. After I’ve finished in the workshop I head home to pack and post orders that are ready to go. My local Post Office is within a convenience store so is open late, so I can get that done in the evenings.
What is the most exciting thing that has happened since you founded Utology?
The most exciting thing for me is when I get chance to look back and reflect on the progress I’ve made. Even the difference three months makes can be quite noticeable, so I’m really excited to think to three months and six months from now.
Who, where and what inspires you?
My inspiration usually comes from being in the workshop and being hands on with materials and equipment. The wall hooks, for example, came into fruition because I was given some leftover lengths of ash stripwood by a family friend, back when I was still working from my parents garage. I had already decided I was going to make some hooks, so the profile of the material became a parameter for the design. I cut the stripwood down into short lengths and thats where the angled front comes from.
What do you use everyday that you wish you had designed?
The objects that are so ingrained into our lives, we forget that someone did actually design them. Things like the paperclip, the ballpoint pen, the zip.
What can we expect in the future?
I’m always looking for ways I can improve the products and the brand, and I prefer to do that than to bring out lots of products. In terms of future products, Utology has a focus on storage and organisation, so think along those lines. I quite like working in smaller home accessories, but there may be some larger pieces at some point.
City or country? Country
North or South? North
Beach or Mountain? Mountain
Books or Movies? Movies
Sweet or Savoury? Savoury
Tea or Coffee? Tea
Cat or Dog? Dog
Sketchbook or Laptop? Sketchbook
Design or Make? Design through making