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Interview with Marc O Riain

Home > Designer Interviews > Marc O Riain

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

Interview with Marc O Riain at Monday 7th of April 2014
Marc O Riain
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?
MO: I've been drawing since I was a kid, its always been an escape for me. I went to the top Design College in Ireland at the time (NCAD) and I learnt a lot in Architectural practice since my graduation in 1995. Being an Interior Architect allows me to change the world, at least that how I see it. Big impacts, big responsibility.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
MO: My practice, RUA Architects focuses on Public and Commercial interiors and does a lot of Pro Bono work. This project was carried out for the Department of Architecture, where I now work as a lecturer. It is quickly becoming one of the top College for Interiors in the Country at both undergrad and post grad.

FS: What is "design" for you?
MO: Design is change, but not for the sake of change. We need to improve things when we change not just make them look better. To do this we must design from first principles. Thats how I work.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
MO: Work that affects people and improves their lives. I like public work.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
MO: Thats hard, I think my favourite changes all the time. Its hard to like your own designs since you only see the flaws. I really like what Thomas Heatherwick and Joseph Walsh Studio are doing right now. I really think that are pushing the boundaries. I hate starchtecture, its too egotistical.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
MO: A reception Area, then a toilet. I learned a lot from the toilet!

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
MO: I work with existing buildings exclusively. I love old industrial heritage, can't get enough of it. We need to start a new dialogue with our existing urban grain before we bulldoze it.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
MO: With a pencil in my hand, and a deadline in my face.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
MO: The people. The people are the most overlooked part of a design. The design doesn't work without them, even though architects hate to see them in architectural photography; tells a story-that does.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
MO: Optimism, its important to start with optimism, action and vigour.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
MO: Frustration at the imperfection. Disappointment at the end of the challenge, and an eagerness to find the next challenge. Probably not the best response.

FS: What makes a design successful?
MO: The ability of the designer to deliver on the concept sketch and a design that is actually responsive to the people who use it.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
MO: Clarity, attention to detail, complexity of thought, simplicity of delivery.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
MO: Don't get me started, 40% of all Co2 comes from building. I think Architects and designers have a big responsibility. We can deliver energy positive buildings though retrofit. We've done it! So lets stop talking sustainability and lets start doing it. I hate the waffle.....get it done.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
MO: Its really bad, minimally modifying products for mass consumption, rather than using design to deliver real and meaningful change to the world and its societies. Design is a prostitute to consumerism. But we do have the ability and the imagination to change.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
MO: I don't really exhibit my own work. Other people put it in exhibitions (last November 2013 last).

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
MO: The buildings talk to me. The whisper in my ear.... remember me....I have memories...they are hear in the peeling paint and rusty steels. Give me life again but don't forget me.

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?
MO: In your face, unconventional, uncut and uncensored. Sometimes I do restrained stuff depending on the context, but even in its context it is pushing an envelope somewhere. If not I hate it. Don't get me wrong, Im not crazy, everything is measured and balanced, there has to be some control.

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?
MO: I live in Kinsale. It has a sense of here-here. Cork my nearest City is immersed in a local unique culture. It hasn't been globalised and homogenised. I surf so I stay close to the energy of the earth, that keeps you grounded. I don't make a lot of money so I'm not stuck up either. My country is a creative country and in the future the world will see us a go to place for great design because we are unique, when the rest have become magnolia.

FS: How do you work with companies?
MO: Collaboratively

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
MO: The more the experience, the less you'll spend, but for god sake check out what they have done before because you'll spend the same amount of money or more on bad design.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
MO: Concept iteration Concept iteration Concept iteration Concept iteration Develop the detail, make it work and then drive it pig headedly through to realisation. Don't get in my way.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
MO: i have a beat up old club chair from the 30s, my Bertoia Bird Chair, my Pelligrino bottle, my Macbook and my Danish Rosewood mid century table.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
MO: Wake up, walk the dog, drop off the daughter to play school, drive to work teach, critique, design, answer emails, organise design events, think about my PhD, drive home, pick up the daughter from play school, walk the dog, sneaky pint maybe, back home, play, eat, work, maybe a movie then sleep

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
MO: You don't know everything, so every failure is an opportunity to learn at someone else's expense. Be honest, tell the truth, admit your screw ups, but be ready with the fix if you can. Every job the the award winning job, even if its a toilet! You are only here once, its your choice to be the best, you don't have to be the most talented to be the best at what you do.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
MO: Bad pay-your projects are your babies-I'm a perfectionist so I hate when things don't work out. Therefore I fight for my designs which doesn't always make me popular but it does make me respected. The positives are you get to design and improve peoples lives, that should be enough.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
MO: Always reinvent the wheel

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
MO: Drawing and experience

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
MO: A Rotring 0.5mm pen, layout paper. The rest is visualisation and communication not design

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
MO: 5% conceptualisation 95% implementation. I work nearly all the time, not healthy.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
MO: 2 years?

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
MO: How much? Frustrating

FS: What was your most important job experience?
MO: The Cliffs of Moher Experience and the Cork University Maternity Hospital

FS: Who are some of your clients?
MO: Amazon, Deloittes, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, US Embassy, and loads of public sector people in Ireland you wouldn't recognise.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
MO: Public Work because you can affect change, and generally nobody else tries to effect change

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
MO: Get the PhD. And then who knows. I'm open to offers.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
MO: You can't deliver the projects we do without a team. I am the belligerent creative and I depend on a lot of people to deliver a project.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
MO: Yes and no, unless you have @500k?

FS: How can people contact you?
MO: http://www.ruaarchitects.ie

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
MO: no


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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