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Interview with Gudjon Thor Erlendsson

Home > Designer Interviews > Gudjon Thor Erlendsson

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

Interview with Gudjon Thor Erlendsson at Sunday 24th of April 2016
Gudjon Thor Erlendsson
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?
GE: Growing up in a small fishing town in northern Iceland, design was not a prominent element of life. I found early on that I could draw and I did well in arts classes. It was then through the encouragement of my Grandfather, who himself was very interested in architecture, that I saw architecture as a career.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
GE: AUDB grew out of a partnership that started in 1999 at the Architectural Association in London. The company was incorporated 2008 and focuses on the conjunction of tectonics and computational design. It´s a very Nordic approach to architecture.

FS: What is "design" for you?
GE: Design is a process and it has function. Design is not art, although it does incorporate the same level of imagination and innovation. To put it simply, Art asks questions, design answers questions.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
GE: Projects with imaginative and open minded clients.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
GE: The Gokstad ship, a magnificent and graceful design of a raiding ship. The design is confidently optimised for its function and material use, which is drawn out and expressed beautifully.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
GE: I designed an entrance space to a hospital building for the Icelandic State Architects.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
GE: I am a computational designer and use various different forms of coding for my designs. I like to use this to push the construction methods in natural materials.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
GE: In the rare moments of calmness, such as when I walk my dog

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
GE: The design process is about solving contextual and functional issues in every project. We usually start by using computational methods to solve the most important issues with each project.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
GE: That depends. There are moments when you work on your own and designing is an intellectual focused exercise, and other times when solutions and ideas come out the excitement of collaborative discourse,

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
GE: Design is never realised, it simply has to stop due to time restraint. Its always therefore followed by mixed emotions, part satisfaction with completed work, part regret after the probable.

FS: What makes a design successful?
GE: Design is successful when it fulfils the needs of function and context, and then pushes the envelop to where the design is more than the sum of its parts.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
GE: Initially purely by my emotional reaction to the design, I later try and analyse what my subconsciousness is telling me.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
GE: Designers should take responsibility for what is within their power.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
GE: Contemporary technologies are giving designers more and better tools for design and making. This can lead to either better quality of design, or quicker, cheaper solutions.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
GE: Last exhibition was the 2014 Istanbul Biennale, the next exhibition will be the A Awards exhibition this summer.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
GE: Inspiration comes from many different places in the environment; art, nature and the places I visit. As a designer it´s important to open yourself up to experiences.

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?
GE: Style is not a consideration, but the office has developed a design language that you could call Nordic computational. This is the use of natural materials and computational design methods.

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?
GE: I live in London a meltin-pot of cultures. I have also spent time in Scandinavia, Hong Kong and Turkey. All these places have influenced my designs.

FS: How do you work with companies?
GE: Design is always a collaborative effort.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
GE: Companies should look at the abilities of designers to innovate, choosing a "safe" designer never results in great design. Look for people pushing the envelope.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
GE: We start with the analysis of the brief and site as well as discussions with the client. We then choose from a variety of computational and analogue methods to form a generative process specific to each project. Past the initial design, we keep pushing the design through iterative design steps using input from design team and stakeholders.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
GE: Eames aluminium chair, MacBook Pro, Laguiole knives, Sofa Modular prototype and a Turkish patchwork rug made from old carpets.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
GE: Up at 6.00 for 30 minute exercise, shower and breakfast and head to the office. Days vary between meetings, design work and site visits. I usually finish quite late, but when possible I take time to see friends and experience cultural activities. I´m usually at home by 9/10.00 when I prepare for the next day.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
GE: I´m still learning

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
GE: The positives are that you get to do something you are passionate about, and every day is different. The negative is that we undervalue our work and undercut other designers to such an extent that design can become value-less.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
GE: Leave the site better than you found it.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
GE: Hand to eye coordination

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
GE: I use multiple digital tools in anything from analysis to production. In addition we explore the use of CNC manufacturing, from CNC routers to 3D printers we have in the office.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
GE: Each project has to be managed in terms of time. Projects with higher design aspirations and supportive budget get more design time. This is a management issue learned with experience.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
GE: 6-12 months lead in time, with 6-24 month on-stie construction. Design only finishes once the building is completed.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
GE: Teaching

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
GE: Any work with an open minded and imaginative client.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
GE: To grow the company as an innovative architectural service focusing on generative design processes.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
GE: Both, each project is a combination of individual and team design effort.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
GE: We are currently working with retailers on installations for pop-up shops. These are interesting opportunities where we are able to experiment with design methods and quickly see the results.

FS: How can people contact you?
GE: The best way to contact us is through our website at www.au-db.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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