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Interview with Jeffrey Koffman

Home > Designer Interviews > Jeffrey Koffman

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

Interview with Jeffrey Koffman at Sunday 17th of March 2013

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?
JK: I have an undergraduate degree in studio art and a graduate degree in Industrial Design. In between my schooling years i worked as an apprentice to a cabinet maker and at Marmol-Radziner, an architecture firm in Los Angeles.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
JK: Knot-La is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Los Angeles, Ca. We focus on contract and custom furniture as well as architectural installations.

FS: What is "design" for you?
JK: As a creative I always start with a human centered approach to design challenges. One hopes that the final out come of the design investigation will result in value creation on multiple levels, from the consumer down thru all of the stake holders.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
JK: Right now I am very focused on contract furniture, investigating technologies and methodologies for creating new value in this area.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
JK: Its hard to pick a favorite because it ebbs and flows but, Yngve Ekstrom designed a chair for Swedese in the 1950's called the Lamino Chair. I recently acquired and am pretty fond of its form and function.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
JK: The materials i surround myself with are primarily honest natural ones: woods, metals, fabrics.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
JK: I am most creative first thing in the morning, about an hour after i have had my first cup of coffee around 5:30 am.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
JK: The primary focus is creating new innovative ways to answer unmet human centered needs.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
JK: Joy is the overwhelming feeling i have when creating new designs. Joy for being able to do what i love and joy for the process.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
JK: The realization of a product or service evokes parental emotions. When you work long and hard on a design problem its creation is like giving birth to a new idea, a new thought, a new interpretation of the world.

FS: What makes a design successful?
JK: A successful design is one that takes a human centered approach, while also addressing market realities and stakeholder interests.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
JK: The first question I always ask is "does it solve a problem". Designers are problem solvers, investigators, researchers and I believe great products solve problems and create new value. The highest achievement of design lies in this arena.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
JK: Design is a powerful engine that can create immense change in the world. The designers responsibilities lie at intersection of observation and creation. Within those cross hairs exists the possibility environmentally responsible and socially aware change.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
JK: Design is evolving to encompass more immersive technologies. In the future design will be personalized, tracking everything from the movement of our eyes to the perspiration on our skin. A dialog between objects and people will come to create new challenge and opportunities in the future.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
JK: My last exhibition was at Art Center in 2012. I hope to have another exhibition in 2013.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
JK: My inspiration really comes from observation of people, behaviors and systems. The seed of a design concept germinates in that space and ultimately manifests itself in a design.

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?
JK: I've always been enamored with architecture and in some ways i feel all of my work is derived from that passion.

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?
JK: I live in Los Angeles CA where everything is new, so to speak. In that sense i have total freedom of mind with no concrete connection to historical heritage.

FS: How do you work with companies?
JK: I work with companies typically as a outside designer licensing products for manufacture and distribution thru their established networks.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
JK: The selection of a designer is a tricky process. The work the designer creates has to align with the underlying ethos of the selected company. A good designer can adapt their execution stylistically to fit that companies ethos while still maintaining the designers philosophical underpinnings.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
JK: My process involves research and insight first and foremost. Without a clear definition of the problem being solved design can become self fulfilling. The backbone of design answers the question of "what should we be making and why." From there one can move on to how it looks and functions.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
JK: Some of my favorite items are: french press coffee maker, McIntosh stereo, OXO ice cream scoop, Ipod, Eames aluminum office chair.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
JK: My day consists of problem solving. After i have my coffee i sit down at the computer and try to solve design problems with a disciplined regiment of research, engineering and form development.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
JK: Good design comes from careful observation of problems centered around human needs. If you can define those problems clearly you can then move on to the object. Clarity is key. Understanding all of the stakeholders interests and resolving a human centered problem around those constraints will give the best possible chance for a successful design.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
JK: For me the best part of being a designer is that i am able to use my creativity every day. It is a hi-light and a joy and i feel very luck to be in this position. Inversely, the drive for perfection can become all encompassing.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
JK: Good design not only creates a visceral response but answers and solves unmet needs. Achieving these objectives in unison can create a golden product or service.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
JK: At the heart of any good design is a good problem solver and identifier. Understanding cultural context within the problem solving framework can lead to great work. A good designer must bridge the gap between the known and the possible and extend their own personal vision to span the divide.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
JK: Solidworks is my primary visualization tool. All designs start with research and quickly move to a sketch which helps to visualize and contextualize the problem being defined. Solidworks acts as a vehicle to realize the form and Bunkspeed renders it like like.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
JK: I work from 7:30 am until 6:30 pm daily. I give myself a window for the creation process. The rest of the time i act as a sponge absorbing as much information about the world, people and emerging technologies as possible. If you want to be a successful designer you have to be a careful observer. Synthesizing those observations is a continual process that i have incorporated into my daily existence.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
JK: There is not set rules or length of time one can put on the creation process. Deadlines drive projects so the length of time really depends on those constraints.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
JK: I am constantly asked "how did you come up with that idea."

FS: What was your most important job experience?
JK: The most influential job I had in the early stages of my career was as an apprentice to a cabinet maker. I learned the importance of precision, hard work, and i developed a keen a appreciation for the material world.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
JK: I have worked for an array of clients doing architectural installations to interior design to furniture development. Working with Don Chadwick has been the most compelling and enlightening experience of my career.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
JK: I relish contract furniture work at this point in my career. I was trained as an industrial designer but my background in architecture has led me to the contract furniture world. Its architecture on a small manageable scale and it bridges my experiences well.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
JK: I will continue working in the contract furniture world and hope the exposure this competition brings will help me harness and realize those aspirations.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
JK: I work primarily on my own, but i have a bunch of trusted friend i bounce ideas off of.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
JK: I have another piece in development that addresses mobility, storage and teaming withing the context of the work environment. I hope to find a licensee for this product in the near future.

FS: How can people contact you?
JK: I can be reached either by phone of email. jjkoffman@gmail.com USA_202-415-3370


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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