Thomas O’Brien is, like a finely cut gem, multi-faceted. Homemaker. Collector. Merchant. Designer. Brand. Visionary. Each facet finely-hewn and polished, ordered and organic, reflecting its cohesiveness with the others.
Thomas O’Brien lives at home; a self-described homemaker. And what better inspiration is there? “I need to be at home to design for home. What I do for my own house influences how I design for others.”
A surprisingly private person for such a popular persona, Thomas lives within his work and works within his life. Private time is at home with art, books, drawing, cooking, gardening ... “domestic stuff.”
Thomas O’Brien is a merchant. “My world flows in and through the life of Aero Studios (aerostudios.com), the store and studio.” The fifteen years of the store is really the history of the brand. It’s design unlimited, continuously changing with new finds unfettered by one client - indeed as Thomas says, “the store is my constant imaginary client, actually I am the client.”
He adds the American small town simplicity of a purveyor at a general store to create a style that is at once grounded, easy, and refined. “When I was little, I liked to pretend that I owned a store. Collecting fascinates me, and I shop all the time,” his remarks still full of his youthful exuberance and collector’s eye.
Thomas O’Brien is a designer. Earnestly advising clients on how to put together their active lives, just like his own. His is a vintage modern aesthetic incorporating traditional things of high and low origins with his enthusiastic hunt for authenticity in the practical and useful. Fine and rare, casual and elegant, classical and modern, masculine and feminine - all tailored to yield a unique, yet distinctly authored, design formula for each project he undertakes.
His family is in the studio - which serves as the critique for testing, developing, refining and editing ideas. “We hone in on what’s important, and reveal what works and what doesn’t. For us the process is the same whether we’re designing products or interiors: you collect, you look, you sort. Then you edit, listen, question, and learn. Eventually, the solution appears.”
Thomas O’Brien is a brand. His licensed fabric collection with Lee Jofa (leejofa.com) represents a natural outgrowth of his exclusive product design at Aero. “I have been collecting inspiration for my fabric collection for years. We move from the singular to the plural - making design attainable to others in daily life.” As beneficiaries, we have come to regard Thomas’s insight as clairvoyant - magnifying each facet of life with his precise vision and limitless creativity.
Now, the arc of his career is beginning to transcend his core strengths as merchant, designer and licensor into a fourth dimension of his brand - media - enabling our intrinsic human desire to learn, and see things in new ways. Thomas O’Brien is on that continuously rewarding path to collect the meaningful things in life, provide them to others who appreciate them, too, and all the while polish his brand to lustrous clarity.
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