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Interview with Stoel Burrowes

Home > Designer Interviews > Stoel Burrowes

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Stoel Burrowes (SB) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Stoel Burrowes by clicking here.

Interview with Stoel Burrowes at Tuesday 24th of April 2012
Stoel Burrowes
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?
SB: I hold a degree in History of Art and in Product Design. I worked in the 1980's and 90' building, designing and selling fine hardwood, contemporary, handmade furniture. The practice and long learning of woodwork as a craft deeply influences my concepts and process of art and design. I teach design and drawing in the Department of interior Architecture at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. My creative practice and research in design theory has been demonstrated in writing. presentation, 2d and 3d art work and furniture design. My latest endeavor has been to build memorial paper pyramid pyres.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
SB: After working in a 3 - 6 person wood shop and showroom and then in a large University setting I have chosen to maintain a small design/woodworking shop attached to my home. I utilize facilities and expertise of other shops together with my own work to realize my designs.

FS: What is "design" for you?
SB: Design is an optimistic process to bring together a wide variety of information, experience and expectation to create a poem in materials. Design is the arrest of ideas into experience.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
SB: I want to form matter into experiences of self recognition.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
SB: In 1984 I designed an easy chair with leather cushions and exposed solid wood frame that is as comfortable as a recliner. I had built numerous items from 'napkin sketches' but this easy chair was a first in product realization for a company.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
SB: Fine wood joinery is my favorite media/platform.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
SB: When I am pushing the grass decapitator, when the tea is hot and the air outside my window is sold, when the car's cruise control is humming, when I am walking the dog, when materials are taking their place as if without me, when the space between is as important as the objects themselves...

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
SB: Materials and edges along with 'deep interlock and ambiguity.' (Alexander)

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
SB: Energized humility. When a design feels complete, the very first thing I want to do the next morning, before pee or coffee, is to look again at that project. More often than not I see something else but it is still a special moment.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
SB: Hubris clouded by self doubt with a strong questioning sense of what's next.

FS: What makes a design successful?
SB: Great question. Show me.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
SB: A first reaction before or in-spite of advertising, expectation or pre-judgment.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
SB: A designers responsibilities include making the world a better, stronger, healthier, clearer, sounder, less obscure, more tolerant, more peaceful, lighter, more discerning, more aware,

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
SB: We are always struggling to be as good as the best of our ancestors.

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?
SB: North Carolina, USA. Living in the oppressively consumerist, money greedy, militaristic society is negative but the mix of cultures, heritage and curiosity is positive.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
SB: Melita coffee filter cone, ceramic hand coffee grinder, scraper, chisel, draw horse

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
SB: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny....'” Isaac Asimov. The same is true of design.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
SB: I would like to change the 'golden rule' from "Do unto other as you would have them do to you." to "Give and Go." The footbal play that would have the player/designer pass/give the ball/idea to another player/evaluation. Then the player/designer should move on to open field to be ready to receive the ball/idea back. Thus, the ball/idea is advanced not in a direct or linear stop and start but, rather, by triangulation and finesse/evaluation.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
SB: A broad knowledge with a deep practice of quality and craft will allow a design to flourish.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
SB: It is most important to fail quickly.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
SB: If you find the beginning, you have stopped looking and if you think it ends when your paid then you are not paying attention.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
SB: How much will it cost?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
SB: Teaching and design have been most natural for me. The jobs that taught me the most: factory work, woodwork and sales take more practice, patience and attention to detail.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
SB: I work mostly by myself but I work, always with others to add expertise and knowledge before, during and in the realization of designs.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
SB: I am currently working on a paper pyramid that can celebrate, memorialize or spiritualize a moment, an event or a life.

FS: How can people contact you?
SB: STOEL BURROWES DESIGN 1108 East Franklin street Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, 27514-3221 burrose@bellsouth.net


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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