Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Helen Brasinika (HB) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Helen Brasinika by clicking here.
Interview with Helen Brasinika at Thursday 17th of April 2014
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
HB: I have been experimenting as a child with materials and constructions, sometimes risking even my physical safety. It was as if something no matter how usual or unwanted triggered an idea that had to be realized by stretching its limitations to the opposite direction. At that time design was just an inner-raw drive, later it was refined by maturity and the influence of various aspects such as aesthetics, sociopolitics, economics, knowledge, education; after that design became more than a personal and physical involvement.
FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
HB: Bllend is a multidisciplinary award-winning architectural design and research office, with projects ranging from residential to commercial and corporate. Its services span from concept design ideas to complete 3D Architectural Design Identities and Custom furniture design. A strongly human centered design approach that brings in the foreground the social impact of design on the psyche of society. The social impact of design cannot be quantified but its acknowledgment can open a path to improved quality of life through design. A strong belief that we are more than the sum of our parts…so is our environment guides all projects scales which commence from a thorough exploration and research informed design approach to form the concept design which then follows its route to realization. Concept and content are always enriched by local context, which can be redefined through an international architectural language. Sustainability, eco- awareness and the educative power of design remain from the start our launching mottoes.
FS: What is "design" for you?
HB: Respiration is a matter of life maintenance, while design is a matter of human evolution. To paraphrase WINSTON CHURCHILL’S quoting, ‘we shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us’, I believe that design shapes our environment, which later transforms us.
FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
HB: Every type of work is a challenge; since it is a two way process between the initiator of the work and the design team, the whole process apart from the final result is often rewarding with unexpected challenges.
FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
HB: Although all projects finally become part of us, Chromosome X dining table, which is a Gold A ' Design Award winner 2012 and Vivifying minimalism, Silver A Design Award winner 2013 have a strong conceptual substance. Regarding the latter, since we refert to corporate interior it was difficult to be translated to ergonomics and regulations. Every design that has allowed the design team more flexibility for thought and exploration is usually the most satisfying for both sides.
FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
HB: A perforated stainless steel and glass room divider.
FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
HB: I particularly enjoy changing the nature or stretching the limilts of natural materials like wood, stone and metal. While parametric design and 3D printing appears as extremely challenging to explore new boundaries.
FS: When do you feel the most creative?
HB: When I am empowered to do what I am good at and love doing? Creative and Uncompromising Design.
FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
HB: It depends on the project, but generally research-context and concept informed design aspects.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
HB: Vigilance;I certaible feel wide awake.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
HB: It depends on the adherence to the desired and initial plan, but generally fulfillment and great satisfaction. The important thing is that i feel the same excitement when a design is approaching completion as my first design.
FS: What makes a design successful?
HB: When the two way process between initiator and designer is equally satisfied. In the case of a commercial project the customer’s initial brief and the impact on the desired target group determine the successfull outcome.
FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
HB: The final design perception is holistic. If one aspect stands out loudly from another, then there is a flaw that has to be reconsidered.
FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
HB: Design is educative and can raise awareness. We need to change our way of thinking, and i believe that design has a very important and vital role to that.
FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
HB: To start exploring human nature in close relation to our environment. Some steps have already been taken, but this is only the top of the iceberg. There is still a long depth to explore.
FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
HB: It was Dining Watermarks, a Melting dining table that was exhibited at RE-Fresh exhibition during Back to Athens Festival in April 2013. A dining table may be seen as a typical inanimate furnishing item that takes its particular form and style owing to material choice, shape and texture. Dining Watermarks follows the symbolism and allegory of a permanently scarred table as that in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. The novel has been popular for being able to zoom in telescopically on the experience of black immigrants in America, but to also embrace and discuss love, loss, friendship and the search for identity. A watermark makes a strong statement of ownership and identity; a dining watermark may expose generation stories, scenes of love, loss and happiness. The original rectangular shape of the black dining table is liquefied with the assistance of CAD/CAM technology, while covered by plastic semitransparent pyramids that act as scars-fragments of memory on the table’s surface.
FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
HB: Travelling and cultural immersion mainly, which I used to do a lot in the past. A seminar or a conference can some time provide valuable feedback for thought and reflection, and a good excuse to visit another place or country.
FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
HB: I wouldn’t like to attach style labels- but it is a context and concept driven exploration that finds its way to realization via thorough research and a continuously evolving know-how. I want to refer to it as design personality which becomes more cultivated and refined, as time passes.
FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
HB: Definetely cultural heritage has a strong impact generally on our way of thinking.I feel my life in Far East (South Korea & China) has greatly affected my way of thinking and perception; therefore the way I design or my approach to various aspects of living is a blend of different cultural and background influences. That is why Bllend concept [blending light, landscape, environment and nature through design] clearly expressed my inner thoughts and approach to design. Regarding living and working as a designer in my country, I feel that information technology and social networking has widened our ‘ways’, but there is still a long distance to progressive thinking and unbiased exploration of design capabilities and routes. And I am not talking about ‘seeds of thought and inspiration’ there are plenty of these; yet, even the best seed needs a fertile soil to grow...
FS: How do you work with companies?
HB: Corporate identity and successful branding is a key aspect when a company is involved. Generally, the approach is different from working on a residential project. There is a lot of responsibility so simple matters of personal like or dislike will have to be set aside, in order to have a more unbiased approach to design. Researching, analyzing and constructing successful 3D architectural identities are vital to corporate design.
FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
HB: It is my strong belief that private residential projects can find their way to completion, despite construction or procedure mistakes. When companies are involved their design will have to be able to communicate effectively their corporate identity and their scope of existence in entrepreneurship. Then a designer will have to be hired in order to achieve the maximum; the designer’s portfolio and most importantly their educational background and appearance on the international stardom is very important for a successful choice.
FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
HB: Discussion, questionnaires, thought and analysis before starting to form an idea or concept. When working on private commissions we concentrate at the beginning a lot on data collection and analysis, word association and color perceptions quizzes that I have been taught at the Eisenmann Pantone Color Institute in the States, and developed through experience. When working with a company, especially when they don’t have a well-articulated corporate culture then, qualitative design research methodology is used in order to analyze their culture, translate it into a well- informed architectural design brief and then go on to crystallize the concept that will drive the design.
FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
HB: Eames lounge chair, metal fire architectural fireplace, flos 265 wall lamp, pantone coffee mugs, tufty sofa by B&B Italia.
FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
HB: Plenty of work!
FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
HB: The mind is like a dog, it needs a leash, 'food' and plenty of training in order to get the best out of it.
FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
HB: It is like travelling on an ice-braker. It is adventurous, dangerous, exciting trying to explore yet having to avoid to hit the iceberg. Everyone knows it is somewhere out there, but s(he) wants to be the one that manages to stir away not straight onto it.
FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
HB: Always being willing to quit a good idea. There might be more interesting ideas to come. Yet, if I believe the idea is great, I am not willing to quit easily.
FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
HB: Diligence, imagination and self-awareness that design is not a solo process and product; eventhough sometimes you may work alone.
FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
HB: 29. Modeler, 3d CAD renderer, color chips, invaluable paper and magazine cuttings, my ipad library and an internet connection.
FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
HB: It is always a matter of negotiating between the designer and personal self, to redefine boundaries.
FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
HB: It is not usually predetermined. It depends on the project, the scope, and the channels of communication between the client and the designer.
FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
HB: Why a design is expensive, since it is only an abstract idea not solid materials. And I have to answer that a finished product is made of particular materials during pre-estimated manufacturing time. An idea, is not fixed in position waiting to be used, it may need a lot of time for thought, negotiation and continuous refining before crystallization, then drafting, finally rendering; yet, still needs thorough research on materials and available technology for cost and production time estimations.
FS: What was your most important job experience?
HB: All the projects provide me with important experience. Even projects that are difficult or not so satisfactory in terms of concept realization, the feedback of their design process turns out to be the most rewarding.
FS: Who are some of your clients?
HB: I can name Vivify_The Beauty lab a new brand in the Cosmetology and wellness field that gave us the Silver A Design Award in Interior And Exhibition Space 2013.
FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
HB: Design the scale, what gives me great satisfaction is when I deal with people that are open minded and receptive to exploration and innovation. Those projects turn to be very time consuming and demanding but the final outcome is the ultimate reward. Also, design work for product and architectural competitions has turned out to be productive and provides a lot of brainstorming for future projects and works.
FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
HB: We would like to work on projects abroad, an currently we are developing an enterpreneurship in Emirates and Russia. Another project concerning sustainable architecture and recycling from unused materials, is on the Reseach & Development agenda with a big industry section in Greece, which despite its grand scale if realized it will be able to provide some poverty relief for homeless and unemployed. We also started research three years ago on an abandoned building in Metalleia in Thassos Island, called Palataki (small Palace). We are trying to find some contacts with the Austrial Architectural firm that had designed it in order to make a proposal for its renovation as a metallurgy museum and a storyline for the german company that had built and used it as their corporate headquarters.
FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
HB: The initial exploration, data collection and analysis starts always by me and the customer, but the development of the designs involves step by step team procedures.
FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
HB: The mobile gallery is an interesting project which has been finished regarding design and development and will take effect later in the year. We work on an innovative new brand in the field of plastic surgery, which comes to hit the ground in the field in terms of design and services. The First branch is under construction and ready for the photoshooting and press appearance by end of May. We have also finished all the plans for a luxury villa estate in Antiparos island, which is under construction and probably ready to be delivered end of Summer. Moreover we are delivering by end of this month the first shop of a new brand Rook Cafe and Delicatessen, which enters a niche in very refined services for coffee and snack. Quality, style and health come in the foreground in an interior with very refined aesthetic value.
FS: How can people contact you?
HB: By mail at email@example.com or visit our website www.bllend.com.
FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
HB: We will still continue to take part in international competitions, A’ DesignAward is one of them and we hope we will have more chances to contribute from our side to the promotion of socially aware design and architecture.
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