Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Allen International (AI) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Allen International by clicking here.
Interview with Allen International at Tuesday 15th 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?
AI: Foundation course in the multi-disciplines of art & design. Specialised in 3- Dimensional Product design at Honours Degree level. Always had key interests in graphic, furniture, brand identity and interior design which led into a career in retail interiors & brand design. Initially I was inspired to become a designer by a love of drawing and the creative process, since a very early age this has always been my career choice -to be a designer.
FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
AI: allen international is a creative hot bed in West London! Consisting of multi-disciplines, a multi national team united by a passion for design!
FS: What is "design" for you?
AI: The opportunity to surprise & delight! A tightrope walk with no safety net!
FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
AI: Those where we are free to challenge pre-conceived ideas and formats.
FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
AI: Impossible to single out just one! To narrow down it is one of the following: The Guggenheim gallery in New York -It's simplicity, power to inspire and uplifting journey the space takes it's visitor on. The Porsche 911 sports car, for it's unique form, excellence in engineering and constant evolution through the decades. Finally, Bang & Olufsen audio equipment. Their design simplicity and quality of materials / production.
FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
AI: A range of time pieces and point of purchase fixtures to sell them from in retail outlets around the world.
FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
AI: Marine Plywood / The Mac OS / The i-pad and the Wacom Cintiq tablet.
FS: When do you feel the most creative?
AI: Between 11.29am and 12.38pm weekdays! Traveling, particularly in galleries / exhibitions or new retail outlets.
FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
AI: When designing 3D spaces -establishing the optimum plan and customer journey. When designing brand identities establishing visual metaphors for a brands unique personality and character.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
AI: Slightly tingly!....Frustration followed by euphoria!
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
FS: What makes a design successful?
AI: Winning awards! Ultimately triggering a response in the user.
FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
AI: It's performance, it's desirability, it's innovation.
FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
AI: To enhance quality / joy / with minimum waste!
FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
AI: As with life design becoming ever more immediate...from conceptualisation to realisation to becoming obsolete - life cycles of designs are becoming ever shorter. Design must look to provide solutions that last longer.
FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
AI: Exhibitions are not applicable for our work. In the UK we have recently launched our designs in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. Abroad in Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Mauritius. We have projects nearing completion in Vietnam, Singapore, and Canada.
FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
AI: From physical spaces -Hotels, restaurants, stores. From media such as magazines, films and online design sites.
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?
AI: We try to avoid a 'house style.' The culture, the personality and the offer of the brands we design for will dictate and form the final style of our solutions.
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?
AI: London. In my opinion the greatest city in the world, not least for it's complete multicultural nature. The mix of nations and cultures where I live has most certainly affected my work. London is a melting pot of styles and different cultures and that is evident in our designs.
FS: How do you work with companies?
AI: Closely. By creating strong bonds with our clients and brands and their corporate culture.
FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
AI: Once they have chosen a design company to work with, trust their instincts and let the designers do what they do! Select a design company by their work but also the personalities of the designers that make up that agency. The better the relationship and trust between client and designer the better the design that will result.
FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
AI: Look, listen, consider, create, detail, oversea.
FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
AI: i-pad, Eames lounge chair, B&O Beosound 9000, Audi TT, My kids!
FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
AI: Wake, shower, cycle, meet, correspond, discuss, sketch (on a good day),meet, cycle, dine, relax, sleep
FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
AI: Listen to your elders, they thought they new it all once and still don't! Never settle for your first idea, polish your presentation skills, both visualising and verbal. Coming up with a good idea is half the job...selling it is the completion of a great design. Never design for other designers..design for everyone. Build upon principles but never repeat your designs. Design is not just about creating...learn to listen and analyse. Pick another design field your interested in and become good at it as well. Never stop learning.
FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
AI: Positives: - The variety - The sense of achievement Negatives: - The selfish hours - Forever living your life to deadlines
FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
AI: Be better than your last design.
FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
AI: The ability to visualise...to sketch in a computer or on a sketchpad -it doesn't matter. But without the skill a good idea will never be explained.
FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
AI: My eyes....The web....My mind.....The i-pad.....Sketchbook I-pad App......Wacom Cintiq Digital screen / tablet......0.1 / 0.5 Fineline drawing pens......Tracing paper......Adobe Ideas I-pad App....Cannon 4oD SLR Camera....Adobe Photoshop...... Adobe Vectorworks......Renderworks.....Adobe Photoshop....Adobe Illustrator....Frame magazine.....Pro-create I-pad App....i-tunes....
FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
AI: Lists and more lists!
FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
AI: Longer than you expect! On average18months from brief to launch to market.
FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
AI: How much will it cost to build?
FS: What was your most important job experience?
AI: Having to fight for our designs, and sometimes not winning.
FS: Who are some of your clients?
AI: Virgin Money, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Carlsberg, Raiffeisen, National Bank Of Greece, Cairo Amman Bank, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, CIBC, BNP Paribas, Coca Cola, Garanti, Deutsche Bank, Cairo Amman Bank, Mashreq, Mauritius Commercial Bank, Capitec, Bank Beirut, Itau, Helm, Bank Columbia
FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
AI: The one with the most unique commercial offer, an open brief to innovate.
FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
AI: New regions, new cultures, designing for new segments, the use of more and more digital communications within retail spaces.
FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
AI: Always as a team.
FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
AI: The first branches for Virgin Money on the UK high street. The development of a flagship branch for the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank in their new HQ building 17,000 sq/ feet. of retail financial space -completing 2013. A space to demonstrate all segments of the bank together in one space -united by an architectural digital ribbon.
FS: How can people contact you?
AI: Via our website: www.allen-international.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
AI: At the core of the designs we create at allen international is an understanding of the customer experience and an understanding of brands...this transcends all segments of business and all global regions. If you have a brief, we have a design!
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