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Interview with Gareth Bristow

Home > Designer Interviews > Gareth Bristow

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

Interview with Gareth Bristow at Saturday 9th of March 2013
Gareth Bristow
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?
GB: I has been drawing, and designing since my teens and have applied those skills to building, engineering and graphical design professionally for over thirty years. As a young engineer I worked on new technologies including air bearings and air gauging. Since the beginning of the 90’s my involvement in architecture has lead to winning several awards for architectural design. I have a passion for form, function and have an inquisitive mind that has lead in recent years to the development of new mechanical technologies and products.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
GB: As the creative director of a small thriving architectural consultancy (Green Sphere Design Ltd) providing creative design, managerial and professional support to several world renowned Architectural practices and developers, I have a reputation for focusing on detail, design and project leadership that has resulted in a high percentage of planning successes and completion of numerous prestigious projects. The ability to see through problems and find solutions has been a keynote of my career and has lead to the design and patenting several new mechanical devices. It has been the development of one of those devices into several applications and their evolution into a range of innovative products that has lead to the formation of Pumped Ltd by myself and Philip Pike in 2012. Pumped Ltd is a design and marketing company founded to fully exploit the mechanical advantages of the Reciprocating Oscillating Coupling; an innovative patented mechanism that converts a single rotary action into multiple linear movements, with obvious uses for air and fluid displacement.

FS: What is "design" for you?
GB: Design is problem-solving process, whether it is responding to a clients brief or creating something from an idea and is not solely an activity for engineers and designers, but is a cooperative activity involving those who design the objects, processes and environments, along with those who make use of them.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
GB: Architectural is my foremost skill however product design is a fairly new discipline for me and I am also finding that the design process of combining form, materials and functionality also challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
GB: A few years ago I designed a very modern interior within a historic building undergoing a full restoration. I found the combination of reusing the exterior of an old building and a surprisingly contemporary interior an aesthetic that was very satisfying.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
GB: A thatched Cottage in an area of outstanding beauty.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
GB: 3D Software including Archicad, 3ds, Solid Works and, If I had the money I would like to use Catia.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
GB: Most of the time, I generally carry a small sketch book to note and jot down design ideas and building elements that catch my eye.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
GB: The end user, whether it is buildings, landscapes or products the design has to be attractive to the client or purchaser.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
GB: A range of emotions including tension, particularly when I am working to very tight deadlines.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
GB: Satisfaction when a completed design has retained its integrity whilst achieving the brief and the client is pleased by the end result.

FS: What makes a design successful?
GB: Some designs are based on pure aesthetics and some are based on functionality, but most are a combination of the two, however a successful design is one that is fit for its intended purpose and looks appealing.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
GB: Aesthetics are always the most important aspect, is the object a desirable thing to own?

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
GB: Quite rightly the current thrust in design is focused on the conservation of the limited resources available on the planet. The reuse and recycling of materials, the use of renewable energy and reducing embedded energy in everyday products, homes and systems should always be considered and assessed at an early design stage.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
GB: The increasing use of cheaper 3D printers and the availability of larger metal layering prototyping machines will enable designers to test the viability and ergonomics of products near the beginning of the design cycle. This will without doubt lead to better and more increasingly unique/ bespoke products being commissioned.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
GB: I have not as yet exhibited my work as an individual yet; however my work has been presented on numerous occasions as part of presentations to civic groups, planning authorities and public exhibitions.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
GB: I usually have a rough idea in my mind before I start drawing and for the little details I use an extensive library of design related books and reference photographs.

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?
GB: If I had to describe an underlying style I would say that the Art Deco movement has greatly influenced my work. With regards to architecture I always consider local context to be a precursor to the design process. Buildings should not be designed in isolation, they should relate to the environs in terms of scale, mass and materials. This shouldn’t negate the design of contemporary buildings, but they most connect to the immediate surroundings and wider landscape.

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?
GB: In the UK we are very fortunate that good design has always been and continues to be applauded. Culturally the UK has a history of pioneering engineering and innovation that is now being increasingly supported and encouraged by local and central government. Although we found that during the initial stages of the current pump design it was hard to gain any government interest and grants, however after locating the right agencies we are now finding that all sorts of funding programmes are opening up to help develop our products.

FS: How do you work with companies?
GB: The architectural consultancy works for several architecturally acclaimed practices which has lead to senior roles running several projects for the Duchy of Cornwall and an ongoing project for a substantial house in New Delhi.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
GB: As a design consultant I would consider that a succinct design brief and a reasonable time period to undertake the project is essential to gain the best from a designer. Clients should provide a reasonable budget for initial feasibility studies to allow the designer to clarify the scope of design works required and this helps to nail down the likely fees and time scales. Companies generally select from submitted portfolios or by recommendation.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
GB: Architectural designs are completed in four stages Stage 1: Feasibility Following the receipt of a client brief and a visual site survey, feasibility studies and planning appraisal including sketch layouts for the master plan, building and site are prepared. Those are usually issued to the client for approval and closely followed by firming up initial architectural responses to the immediate locality, urban and morphology assessments and planning policy assessments are undertaken prior to any pre-application discussions with the local planning authorities. Stage 2: Design and Planning Drawings are then prepared for the planning application, including completion of the site design, architectural Drawings. Visual support material including street scenes, watercolors, 3D renderings and a supporting design statement are then completed for the final submission of formal planning application with supporting information by engineers, landscape architects and others. Stage 3: Building Drawings Basic technical drawings and specifications are prepared to provide sufficient for initial budgetary information for informal tender purposes and submission of building regulations drawings to the local authorities. Stage 4: Formal Tenders and construction Detail specifications and construction detail/ technical drawings and specifications sufficient for formal tender and construction purposes are then prepared and the administration of tender process including post tender negotiations and the preparation contract documents in undertaken prior to construction. Sometimes administration of the contract and full site supervision is required with numerous site visits. Product design follows similar stages subsequent to an initial client brief Stage 1: Feasibility. Stage 2: Design. Stage 3: Detailed Drawings/ Specification. Stage 4: Production Planning and Manufacture.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
GB: My constantly used iPad, the family Audi A3 diesel that just goes on and on, a Swiss army knife that I find a use for most weeks, our retro Kitchenaid and my great grandfathers 1902 patented tape needle; a constant source of inspiration.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
GB: Currently very busy, either in the studio until late in the evening or working in a client’s office, or travelling to sites up and down the country or in India supervising the construction of a large classic residence.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
GB: Ensure that any client changes that effect the programme and fees are reported to the client regularly and ideally agreed before making any changes are made; as nothing annoys a designer more than having to undertake extra work for which he isn’t being paid for. Always meet the agreed time schedules.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
GB: Being creative and being paid for it doesn’t seem like proper work sometimes (particularly if I’m water colouring or using promarkers), although the down side is that a lot design work is endless repetition and tedious detailing that requires perseverance to obtain a perfect result.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
GB: Understand, agree and complete the brief. Sticking to the brief is very important: you have to remember that your clients pay your fees and you must give them what they want and not what you think they should have, although your designs can help to lead the client to a good result. Not every design will be an award winner, but designers should aim to produce the best design within the given time and budget constraints.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
GB: Designers require versatility, perseverance and a very thick skin. Not everyone will like or get what you are trying to achieve and there are a lot of people in the world who like to try and demonstrate their intellect by being constantly critical instead being objective. Again stick to the brief because your clients pay your fees and you must always strive give them what they require.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
GB: 3D Software including ArchiCad, 3ds, Solid Works, rotring pens, promarkers, watercolours and an extensive library of design related books and reference photographs.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
GB: I generally manage my time by planning each day and set daily goals to hopefully achieve, however working for clients you tend to be reactive to events or changes that are out of your control.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
GB: This depends upon the brief, although I always allow for 1/3 of my time to be non productive, ie admin time, meetings, design changes and research.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
GB: Where do you get your ideas from? There is no easy answer to this as some ideas are developed from remembered images, some come from abstract thoughts and some are developed from clients notions.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
GB: The experience gained 10 years ago whilst running a studio of 15 architects, graphic designers and technicians has proved invaluable during the project juggling I have to do now. I have learnt to prioritise and use limited resources to complete projects, whilst finding time to design myself.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
GB: Adam Architecture and many private clients

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
GB: I take pleasure in all types of design work whether is architectural, furniture or product design; it is the creative process I enjoy most.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
GB: Ongoing product design for pumped Ltd and running master-planning teams for a major client.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
GB: I run design teams for a large client and generally work by myself on product designs and on individual houses for clients.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
GB: Green Sphere Design is currently developing concepts and designs for Pumped Ltd, to employ a patented mechanism in a unique range of electrically driven hand pumps, ball inflation devices, third world irrigation pumps and are closely looking at utilising the core pumping technologies of the patented mechanism for other leisure sectors including marine. I am also working on several architectural commisions for contemporary eco dwellings for other clients.

FS: How can people contact you?
GB: By email:- gareth.bristow@pumped.uk.com


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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