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Interview with Maurie Novak

Home > Designer Interviews > Maurie Novak

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

Interview with Maurie Novak at Monday 14th of April 2014

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?
MN: I have been dabbling in carpentry since a young age and have always enjoyed creating things. I completed a Masters of Architecture at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia a few years ago. I don't think that I ever set out to be a designer. I have always liked to create things and do so every day. It is probably the attention to detail and my obsessive nature which transform my creations into 'designs'. I never really think of myself as a designer. I am just always coming up with problems and try to solve them in the most eloquent and informed way I can.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
MN: I formed MN Design less than a year ago, although I have been developing some of my projects for longer than that. Having my own company has freed me up to pursue designs and projects that I am passionate about. Architecture is a passion for me, and I aim to develop more architectural projects as the company develops. Furniture and other small items are also key parts of the company. By taking on smaller scale projects that I can develop from start to finish was one of the key reasons I started my own business. It gives me the power to direct a design entirely and pick designs I choose rather than only relying on clients to commission projects.

FS: What is "design" for you?
MN: Design is always subjective. To me good design is always a way of achieving a certain goal in the most eloquent and best expressed way possible.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
MN: I like to take on projects that have an element of the impossible to them. A design that is really difficult to realise pushes me the most, forcing me to refine and bring a concept down to its most pure form. This is often found for me in furniture and industrial design, but I aim to take my more exciting ideas and scale them up into my architecture in future.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
MN: My first design for a company was in an architectural firm. I worked on many residential homes and apartment blocks during the start of my career.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
MN: My favourite material would be timber. It is a material with so much variability depending on species, there are just endless possibilities with timber depending on its density, grain and colour. My favourite technology would be any that I can achieve myself. I love to work with my own hands, and am always trying to pick up as many skills as I can to use in my projects.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
MN: I am always sketching aimlessly, and often inspiration hits me in these moments. But I definitely work best under the pressure of a deadline.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
MN: I like to think most about the space around the item I am designing. How does it interact with its space, does it fit or is it designed to stand out. By defining its purpose, I am able to refine a design further.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
MN: I must say that the emotion that I feel most when designing is frustration. I always have the feeling that the answer is on the tip of my tongue and just out of reach. But this is useful for me. I rarely feel fully satisfied with a design, which pushes me to keep refining and bettering it.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
MN: It is a fantastic feeling to realize a design, but I cannot stop myself from thinking that there may be a better way to achieve my outcomes. I don't believe that any design is ever fully refined. Design is transitory, and is therefore always changing and can be pushed further.

FS: What makes a design successful?
MN: For me, a successful design is one that is pure. It is important to me to take away as much as is possible of the superfluous elements in a design, so it can be viewed in its most basic form.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
MN: How do the outcomes reflect the goals of the design. A design may be beautiful and complex, but if it does not fulfil its intended purpose, it cannot be a success in my mind.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
MN: I think there is a heavy responsibility on designers to use the best technologies and resources that they can to best achieve their goals in an environmentally friendly way. Other than the obvious reality that resources are limited, and need to be used as efficiently as possible, I think it is an onus on designers to find materials and methods that are as least harmful to the planet as possible. I also believe that it is a responsibility of designers to create good designs. A lot of items that are designed, are designed for the moment and become outdated very quickly. A good designer should design with the idea that their item should last a lifetime. I try to hold myself to this standard when designing, and aim to become more environmentally conscious in my future projects.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
MN: I have never exhibited my work. I have been developing my pieces over the last few years on the side of whatever job I have had, and having only recently begun my own company. I hope to exhibit some of these pieces in the near future.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
MN: Looking around at the world is the best source of inspiration I could think of. I don't believe there are many purely original ideas, all of human enterprise feeds into itself, and it is by looking at what is and has been, with an eye to the future that one can best 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?
MN: My design style would probably be described as Modern. I don't feel that I have a particular reason for focusing more on modern design than any other type. It is mainly because of my desire for simplicity and purity of design that my work ends up being modern. I am hoping to in future incorporate - in my own way - some more classical elements into my projects

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?
MN: I live in Melbourne, Australia. Australia is such a young country that I feel that a lot of my most important influences would come from other countries. That is not to say that there is nothing here, there is so much amazing work taking place in this city that it is hard to be seen in the throng of developing designers.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
MN: I generally start on a cluttered desk with a blank piece of paper. I just sketch whilst getting distracted by everything around me until I catch a thread of where I want to take an idea. I feel that it is hard to design in a vacuum. My cluttered space allows me to just look around and play - feeding into my ideas.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
MN: Strandbeest - My favorite at the moment would be a 3D printed Strandbeest, designed by Theo Jansen. Tools - I have some beautiful tools that I have inherited from different people. My 3D printer - which allows me to quickly test and develop ideas. My library - which I am slowly trying to grow. Materials - I collect items from the roadside, shops and anywhere I can to try and inform my designs.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
MN: I'd consider myself a young designer, and I don't feel I have graduated to a level of giving original advice, but I'd say the best advice I've heard is to always keep trying. To keep developing and testing and making things is the only way to keep pushing yourself and refining who you are as a designer.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
MN: A positive of being a designer is the ability to create - to take individual elements and make something new that has not been thought of before. A negative of being a designer would be when you face a void and it seems like there is nothing new or original to be found in your mind.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
MN: Never to take on a simple project.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
MN: Curiosity is a key skill in design. If you are not curious, you cannot imagine, test or experiment with design.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
MN: In terms of software I use AutoCad, Rhinoceros and Photoshop most - the programs I was trained in at university. In terms of producing work, I have a very full tool shed, and enjoy designing pieces that require me to learn how to use a new tool.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
MN: Design is time consuming. I always have my designs in the back of my mind. Any task or conversation has the power to spark the key to solving a design.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
MN: There is no answer to the question of how long a design can take. In my mind a design is never really finished, there is always a way to adjust and better it.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
MN: I enjoy most design work that challenges me. If a client comes to me for a brief of designing something that has been done thousands of times over it does not interest me. I want to attempt to find new ways of doing things, this applies to architecture, furniture or anything else I take on.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
MN: I aim in future to grow my business. I have lots of ideas I want to pursue and create. I hope that through a growing exposure I can get new projects to challenge me, and realize some of the designs I have had in development for a long time.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
MN: Currently I work predominantly alone. But when I am in the right team, with people of the right mindset it is hugely beneficial. A team can often push an idea far further than one individual can alone.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
MN: I have several pieces of furniture that I have been developing for a while. In my current situation I am funding my own designs, and have thus only had the opportunity so far to take my 'Prism' table to production, I hope in future to be able to do the same with my other pieces.

FS: How can people contact you?
MN: Websites: www.mn-design.com.au www.prismtable.com By email: maurie.novak@gmail.com Via facebook: www.facebook.com/mndesignmn Via Twitter: @MaurieNovak


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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