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Interview with Gagan Singh

Home > Designer Interviews > Gagan Singh

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

Interview with Gagan Singh at Sunday 13th of April 2014
Gagan Singh
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?
GS: I'm a self-taught furniture and modern lighting designer. I was raised in Air Force family so my love for aviation is ingrained in my blood. My mother is an fine artist and I grew admiring her fine art and learning from her. After graduation from college I got into advertising because I loved conceptual design. I worked in many leading agencies across the globe and after 18 years of marketing communication design and multiple international awards including One Show Design London, New York Festivals Midas, took my passion for world-class design into third dimension. I combined my passion for design with love for modern furniture into one unique vocation, designing aviation art furniture and modern lighting accents.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
GS: Gagan Design is aviation furniture and modern lighting design studio. Every piece is unique work of art and is handcrafted in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We specialize in designing and handcrafting modern and minimal lighting accents. Gagan Design lamps have best of both worlds, modern aesthetics and old world organic handcrafted warmth of wood. Every lamp also has a bold accent of color complimented by the colored cords. Our vision is to craft high-class furniture and lighting accents that your heart desires and your pocket allows. Aside from lighting accents our flagship collection is our homage to aviation. We design and build high-class furniture from vintage aircraft parts; airplanes that once flew in open skies guarding our nation or just carried people around. There’s a lot of history behind these salvaged airplane parts and this is our way of giving second life and paying tribute to the magnificent flying machines that once touched our skies with glory. Hundreds of hours of work go into each piece. From salvaging, designing, fabricating to finishing, each piece is painstakingly turned into unique furniture that’s like no other. Bring home a very unique piece of aviation history as art, furniture or just a statement of your love for aviation. In a time when things are constantly getting automated and mass produced, we’re taking a step back to pause, appreciate and take time to touch, caress and craft every piece of wood by hand. We’re not manufacturers, we’re craftsmen. We take time to handcraft each piece, bit by bit, weaving a symphony just for you because we believe the human in us still appreciates a human touch, a hug over a like, a tete-a-tete over a tweet, for there is spirit and magic in things our hands touch against things that come out of a mold, for we truly believe... The Best Things In Life Are Still Made By Hand.™

FS: What is "design" for you?
GS: Design to me is something that exists in every facet of life. It is something that appeals to your senses, inspires you and makes you happy. Design can be interpreted in different forms, dimensions and is experienced through different senses. It's something that makes an object or thought more meaningful.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
GS: I love conceptual communication design and industrial design in terms of furniture and lighting accents.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
GS: It's tough for me to think of any one thing in particular since I get inspired with a lot of things on a daily basis. For instance the inspiration to create my first lamp came from most mundane object in an unusual place. It was a 5 inch diameter cylindrical wooden piece in a junk shop.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
GS: A menu card for a 5 star hotel in New Delhi.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
GS: I love best of both worlds. I love simple wood combined with technology from new world. I like woodworking power tools and at the same time I love the possibilities with laser and 3D printers. I like the use of human hands that's why at Gagan Design we hand craft for there's spirit and magic in thing our hands touch.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
GS: Morning.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
GS: I like meaningful design whether it's a 2d print ad or 3d lamp. Aesthetics, uniqueness is integral part but it does not supersede the function. I treat my designs like an algebra equation where you start with something complex and end up simple and solved. I like to keep simplifying the design to a minimal.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
GS: Designing is a very satisfying and inspiring process. As designers we try to solve problems in best ways using innovation and a lot of exuberance. And when you have a finished design or a product as a result of design that's put to use by a consumer who loves it. I guess that's the most satisfying, exciting and inspiring feeling in the entire process.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
GS: Sense of accomplishment, happiness and inspiration to do more and better.

FS: What makes a design successful?
GS: A successful design is one that fulfills it's objective and emotionally connects with the audience. A successful design would make some one happy and inspire them.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
GS: Function, form, uniqueness and aesthetics.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
GS: Foremost, respect for the environment because there is no society without environment. A designer is entrusted with the task of making products that inspire others, make lives better, more meaningful all while embracing innovation. Their task is to design aspirations and expectations by pushing the boundaries, continuously.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
GS: Design is like any other organic matter or process. It's ever evolving. It's getting more interactive and engaging with the advent of social media. Whether it is 2 dimensions or in 3 dimensions, people seek things that beautifully fulfill a function.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
GS: My inspiration comes from everywhere. The best comes from taking a walk outside. It comes from students I mentor, it comes from my 9 year old son. It comes from junk as much it comes from books. I think the key thing for inspiration is self motivation and openness. As long as you are open to new ideas, self primed and motivated, you'll be inspired by everything around. Inspiration seeks people who are motivated to push boundaries.

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?
GS: I like meaningful design. I don't like decoration. For me design and function go hand in hand. Personally my style is modern, minimal.

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?
GS: I'm a urban nomad. Born in Air Force family, we moved every 3-4 years to different places in India. And when I started working I moved out of India to different places. I've been fortunate of living and experiencing cultures from around the globe, from east to west, from north to south. Traveling and mingling with different cultures is very important as that gives one better understanding and promotes tolerance, understanding and love. The other reward of living among various cultures is to experience design nuances from different perspective. A certain popular style of design in one country might be a total turn off in other. So design can get very subjective depending on the context. At the same time being up close to many cultures and faiths across the globe has fascinated and inspired me.

FS: How do you work with companies?
GS: Different companies have different objectives and ways of working. I'm always open to ideas and make things work in mutual interest.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
GS: I'm in constant state of inspiration. So at times the design process begins by a spark of inspiration and I always take it to my little sketchbook I always carry. That's where inspiration takes shape. I sketch a lot and study the form. After I'm happy with the forms and shapes, I sketch out the fabrication process and then source material and start with some quick prototypes. I call them tangible sketches. At times the design process starts with a clear brief and objective. For instance I might be setting mandate for a floor lamp that I want to design. While I want to bring in my modern & minimal style in the lamp but I also want it to be affordable so this time I start with a price tag before sketching and visualizing. Then I work backwards following my process.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
GS: My iPhone, my notebook with 0.3 mm micro clutch pencil, aviation furniture, my sons Lego and my design books.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
GS: Depends which day. Most of my are different. Let's say a typical day would start with a nice hot bed tea and quick reading of news on the iphone. Then I quickly check my emails. respond to the ones I can on iphone. Then comes the most important part. I make a list of things to accomplish in the day and also check on anything that's pending from previous day. Quick shower and to the breakfast counter. (I have note pad and pencil in bathroom drawer too and it gets used a lot to jot down ideas that just keep coming in the morning) After responding to all emails promptly I start working on the things to do list and love checking them one by one. Some days I might be working on a branding assignment for half a day and fabricating the other half and certain days I go non stop working in my studio finishing orders till late in the night. During the course of the day I find time to check the social media to follow leading design sites and also to put updates for our followers. As they say , 'alls well that ends well', I do make it a point to go to the gym in the evening because a fit body leads to a fit mind.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
GS: Never be afraid or apprehensive of dreaming big because those who dream are the ones who do. Remember ideas are only as big as the people behind them. If you believe in it then go for it. Road to brilliance isn't a path of least resistance and mostly is a path less traveled. No Guts. No Glory. Stay humble and be thankful.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
GS: Positives are easy to find. No 2 projects or days are identical. You never get bored of doing same mundane repetitive task each day. Your imagination is your only limitation. You have the opportunity to invent, reinvent and inspire thousands and million others. I don't see any negative.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
GS: Don't decorate. Be meaningful.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
GS: The most important skill is to have the right attitude, be willing to learn from anyone, anytime.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
GS: MY tool box has an iPhone, leading design blogs, forums, iMac, design books and my sketch notebook.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
GS: Advance planning is key to accomplished missions.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
GS: Depend on what one is designing.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
GS: Where do you get all these ideas from?!

FS: What was your most important job experience?
GS: I believe learning is a continuous process and I learned as much in my first job as in any other job or entrepreneurship. The key is to have ambition and be open to ideas.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
GS: There are a lot to name some.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
GS: I like any kind of design, whether communication design or industrial.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
GS: I want to bring great modern design to masses at affordable prices. Our focus is going to align with right partners towards realization of that vision.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
GS: Both. Ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, even my 9 year old boy.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
GS: We're focusing on lighting accents and each day is a new day for us and we are always sketching and developing new designs.

FS: How can people contact you?
GS: email: info@gagan-design.com gagan3@hotmail.com website: www.gagan-design.com Phone: +1-204-9633962

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
GS: We're looking for partnerships with distributors, retails and design connoisseurs.


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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