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Interview with Andrew Slade

Home > Designer Interviews > Andrew Slade

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

Interview with Andrew Slade at Tuesday 19th of February 2013
Andrew Slade
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?
AS: There is really no unique story here. I have been saying I wanted to be an architect since I was probably 9-10 years old, and here I am today logging my hours and preparing to write my exams for the Ontario Association of Architects. As for what made me interested in design, I would probably have to start with the cliched response, LEGO. However, as I got older, I became quite fascinated with various 'level editors' in video and computer games. In fact, I hardly ever played these games for their story lines. I guess you could say these level editors were like a primitive form of computer modelling! When I eventually found out that you get to do all these things (and more) as a designer, I was quite content to stay with the profession.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
AS: Don't officially have one myself, my work was done during my final year of Masters at Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism in Ottawa, Canada. Now, I am working at an architecture firm in Toronto, Canada by the name of Baird Sampson Neuert architects which is very proactive in both its sustainable and social practices. Not to mention, does very interesting work that stands out on own does not resemble any other in my opinion.

FS: What is "design" for you?
AS: If I may, I would like to answer this question in the same manner that I do for the loaded phrase, "What is architecture? I am not concerned with what architecture (or design) 'is', but instead would much rather like to know what architecture can 'do', and furthermore, 'who is it for?' The phrase "what is design", "what is architecture" all too often neglects the relationship between humans and their use of products and buildings. The problem is that this type of analysis can often put social responsibility secondary or at par with other more esoteric fascinations that (in my mind) need some public interaction to test their strength. Thinking, 'what does design do?', helps me realize that design and architecture are practices that are all related to an audience, one that goes far beyond the reach of a few artists, academics or a specified crowd, but has a direct impact on many people's daily lives. And because this practice can have such a far-reaching impact I try my hardest to be considerate of this uniquely diverse condition. Maybe I'm wrong, but I like to believe this position keeps me away from the dangers of artificial strangeness.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
AS: I am quite content working on any thing, of any scale, and with anyone as long as the project is open-minded and opportunistic. Recently, I have found that working on single family homes is quite a satisfying design experience because people are generally very excited to discuss and develop interesting ideas for their prized possession, their home. In another sense, I have also enjoyed designing this piece of furniture because it has allowed me to single-handedly experience a design-build methodology where the final product was somewhat unknown from the beginning to end. I guess I would have to say I like designing most when there is a bit of uncertainty; an thus, room for unexpected ideas to result.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
AS: This is really difficult to answer, so here are a couple that stand out in my mind at the moment . . . Arcosanti in Arizona by Paolo Soleri, (in its entirety) Centre Pompidou in Paris by Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers (inside the tubes: going the escalators in specific) Parc de la Villette in Paris by Bernard Tschumi (if you have hours to let yourself get lost within it) Canadian War Museum in Ottawa by Moriyama & Teshima Architects (for its strong sense of narrative) Eiffel Tower, (I can remember spending hours and hours here taking endless abstract photos of structure and light)

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
AS: For a material, Cor-Tenn, or any naturally oxidizing metal for that matter, although I have never had an opportunity to use it in a project or design. I have a not-so secret fascination for weathering materials that change and transform as they age. As for a computer platform, my favourites are Photoshop, Premier, Cinema 4d and Revit at the moment. Also, I am quite interested in the opportunities of CNC Milling and hope to explore these quasi digital / analog machines in the future.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
AS: At 12:00-2:00am unfortunately. I guess it could be worse though.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
AS: Detailing, but not just in the conventional sense of drawing very intricate parts for example. Instead, I do a lot of jumping back and forth between human-scaled sketches (where I constantly run out of space on my scraps of paper to write notes) to the very gestural-scale (where I constantly end up over designing every option).

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
AS: exhaustion, followed by appreciation (once I take a break to reflect). This happens over and over again . . .

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
AS: Almost always instant excitement, because no matter how something is realized its always very interesting to see how someone else interprets and manifests your ideas / drawings. Nevertheless, this is usually followed by a slight self-critique. 'Why didn't I push this idea a little further?', 'why didn't add that?' and anything else along this line of questioning. And at the end, I enjoy observing the way in which these designs are used by others most.

FS: What makes a design successful?
AS: For me, it is feeling satisfied that you have planned for as much as you can, and then left some extra space left over for someone else to evolve the design through its use.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
AS: Sincerity. I usually don't get too excited about a fancy rendering. Unless its shape, structure, or quality of space and light displays something I can only just fathom. I always look for aspects that show care and strong consideration for humans and their use. For example, good space, lighting, views, nicely detailed furniture that allows for easy manipulation/customization or geometries that suit the human figure.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
AS: It's up to a whole lot of different professions. We must do our part however we can. Collaboration and better communication between designers and other consultants, clients, developers, builders, etc. is one aspect I believe is important to pursue. Pushing the technology, science, research, and analysis would definitely be the other. However, the act of marrying these two agendas with beauty, intelligence, and rigor is perhaps the most important part. For this is what finalizes the images, sounds, and shapes that stick in our minds and excite to us challenge and improve our professions.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
AS: Not entirely sure, but it seems like their are predominantly two very very different directions. Technos and Socials. And then perhaps you could mix these two together to get the Social Technos (media-architects/designers) and the Techno Socials (Do-it-yourself culture). Realistically, I do feel like their will be some large changes in design in the future. It already feels like the profession of architecture is in a transition, but I won't get into that topic here.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
AS: This is the first.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
AS: A little sketch book. I write ideas down when they come to me. That usually helps me solidify them so I can remember them later, (or at least a versions of them) when I need to.

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?
AS: Solid.

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?
AS: Very much so. Perhaps because I feel there is sometimes a visual lack of design culture in Canada I find myself reading it from other (less obvious) scenarios on daily basis.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
AS: Keep an open mind, yet at the same time keep reminding us of reality.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
AS: Creativity, Challenging Creativity, Determination, Commitment, and most importantly, a sense of humour.


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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