Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Clive and Tina Bullivant (CB) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Clive and Tina Bullivant by clicking here.
Interview with Clive and Tina Bullivant at Tuesday 17th of April 2012
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?
CB: I always wanted to be a designer even when I was in school. I have a flair for drawing but first became truly focused when I encountered metal work for the first time. This lead to me exploring a whole range of materials to my bachelors degree in Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics.
FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
CB: I work in partnership with my wife, we have both always been freelance designers working to commission. We recently started CNBconcepts which aims to provide concept development for entrepreneurial innovators
FS: What is "design" for you?
CB: It’s become a cliché to say you only notice good design by its absence which puts an emphasis on operation and functionality, I believe it goes further than this. Good design should also provoke an emotional response, a connection between the product and the user increasing its desirability enormously. I also think we have an increasingly sophisticated user base ready to make that connection.
FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
CB: I like decorative pieces and retain a love of the refined functionality of silverware.
FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
CB: My most favourite design was created to recognise 50 years of the design classic the 'Bic Crystal' pen. It is called 'Rags to Riches' and utilizes the spent plastic barrels of the pens as a structural component for a desk/table centre and flower holder. It uniquely brings an often neglected disposable product together with precious materials to form something unique and different.
FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
CB: In my early career I worked in graphics and advertising and my first design work was to produce the logo and corporate identity for a property developer.
FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
CB: My favourite material would have to be metal. I get great personal joy from working it by hand or machine, both hot and cold, and I have become a huge fan of using new technologies such as laser cutting and welding to realise products with high precision.
FS: When do you feel the most creative?
CB: I feel most creative when surrounded by inspirational objects and when talking to other creative people.
FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
CB: Aesthetics and visual impact have always been my main focus. It is after all what provokes the initial, emotional response from a user.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
CB: I find designing exhilarating and exciting. I can get lost in a my work and lose track of time and the world around me.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
CB: I always feel a sense of achievement, but have yet to be entirely satisfied with a design. I will always find some aspect I could re-do differently.
FS: What makes a design successful?
CB: A good design has to fulfill a need whilst being economical and ethical. Whilst doing this it must provoke an emotional response in the user, it has to have desirability and longevity.
FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
CB: The quality of materials and manufacture and the overall aesthetic. It goes without saying that it has to do the job it was designed for.
FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
CB: I strongly believe that designers should be leading the way on ethical issues. Modern technologies are allowing us to re-use and recycle much of the material we employ in products and this must be a prime consideration for any designer. My own experience in teaching has proven that design and designers have an important role to play in educating consumers and guiding them towards a sustainable future. With increasing access to new energy efficient technologies and a broader understanding of how and where materials are sourced we really have no excuse.
FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
CB: I believe that designs are becoming increasingly innovative both in the way they solve problems and the technologies that are employed in production. Perhaps for consumers the pressure of technological change and the bombardment of brands and products have resulted in a trend towards 'retro' design. I don't think this is a bad thing as it forces individuals to reappraise classic design periods and we have the opportunity to do things differently with our current understanding of modern materials and manufacturing techniques.
FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
CB: I last exhibited in a group exhibition for the Goldsmiths' Company Craft and Design Council in February 2011 at Goldsmith' Hall, London. I have no firm plans for my next exhibition at the moment.
FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
CB: The principle source of inspiration for my designs is the natural world. I enjoy being outdoors and draw from the shapes and forms of animals and plants, and the rich colours and textures I find there. In contrast I am also fascinated by the made world and iconic architecture and engineering in particular.
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?
CB: I would like to think that I produce elegance in my designs with the forms of products themselves being ornamental rather than relying on applied decoration. I always try to achieve balance and harmony in my designs whether they are free in form or derived from a more geometrical source.
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?
CB: I live in England which of course has a rich history of it's own which has always benefited from migrations from the near continent. It is difficult and wrong to generalise about design in my country but I would say for me that our architects have lead the way in grasping the opportunities that modern living present. There are of course very notable exceptions and we have outstanding product design companies however when visiting trade fairs I too often see run of the mill products presented as the best of British which rely on some contemporary surface decoration to make them in anyway different. I certainly feel more that my more flambuoyant approach is more suited to cultures further south in mainland europe.
FS: How do you work with companies?
CB: I am happy to work on individual projects and submit work to competitive briefs. I also use a range of professional contacts to be able to offer more substantial product development if required.
FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
CB: You have to look at a designers portfolio and choose in the knowledge of their style. It is also important to prepare the designer thoroughly with the expectations and constraints on their work, preferably in face to face meetings.
FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
CB: I have always drawn extensively for it's own sake. I have built up a resource that I turn to for inspiration and continue to experiment with materials and textures. If working to a specific brief I will always do some research to analyse what is at the root of the task which in turn leads on to further research and testing, exploring current products and trends. I like to pursue my initial ideas in discussion with partner designers or client and will test these to get feedback before developing them using CAD. It then becomes the client's option to take the design further themselves through in house R&D or I will move to mock-ups and prototyping for them.
FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
CB: My favourite pieces of design are my Isamu Naguchi coffee table, Koziol Leaf salad bowl, Joseph Mortar and Pestle, Starck Ghost Chairs and Bjorn Weckstrom cufflinks.
FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
CB: This is really hard as There is little routine about what I do. I try to organise administration for early mornings and will break for some fresh air before settling to any design work. I feel most productive when working into the evenings and produce my most imaginative work late in the day.
FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
CB: Keep looking! Visit outlets and venues with the express intention of looking at design in any field, not necessarily your specialism. Stay on top of technological developments and be open to unconventional ways of employing these.
FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
CB: For me the positives of being a designer are the opportunities it brings to engage with people and objects creatively and the chance to use my imagination productively. The negatives are the pressures of time and constraints!
FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
CB: Never allow 'perceived wisdom' or convention to stop you exploring radical pathways.
FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
CB: Designers have to be real problem solvers and be able to recognise where and how a situation can be improved. They need to be to be good communicators both verbally and graphically and above all be resilient.
FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
CB: I use Rhinocerous 4 with a Flamingo rendering package. I also have more books for source material than is probably healthy and I keep a good collection of found objects from sea shells to bits of machinery for inspiration.
FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
CB: I am not a great time manager but I believe that it is important to be realistic when setting deadlines and then stick to them, even if that means a lot of late nights!
FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
CB: Too many factors influence the time spent on a design, it changes quite radically from product to product, and I am seldom working on just one project at a time.
FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
CB: How much will it cost!
FS: What was your most important job experience?
CB: I would have to say designing and manufacturing a presentation piece for H.R.H. the Queen Mother's 80th birthday for Smith and Stevens Enamels.
FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
CB: I actually like designing for domestic kitchen and dining, although I have built a reputation for designing silverware and jewellery. I really enjoy working with CAD packages and the speed with which you can identify and solve practical problems in a virtual space.
FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
CB: I have spent a long time in education and am looking to move back into full time design. I am happy to work for a company or organisation but enjoy the freedom and responsibility that comes with being freelance.
FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
CB: I work with my partner designer for CNBconcepts and we will bounce ideas off of each other, but I have to say that I develop most of my ideas myself.
FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
CB: I am in the process of designing a range of all weather garden planters which will be effective in the dormant growing season. I don't believe that anything like these pieces exist and am hoping to attract the growing market for outdoor living.
FS: How can people contact you?
CB: People can contact me by email at CNBconcepts@yahoo.co.uk, or email@example.com. They can also contact me by phone on 07833777598, contact details are on my website CNBconcepts.co.uk
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