Interview with Onur Ozkaya

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

Interview with Onur Ozkaya at Sunday 13th of December 2015

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?
OO: My background is architecture. Since my early education, I have been using resources and features of the industrial design to advance my architectural experiments that are not fully resolved yet. Furniture design has always been a great platform to test spatial ideas where both users and designers can evaluate their positions.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
OO: I have started to develop my own work late 2009, after leaving my position at Foster+Partners in London. Since then, I have been dividing my time between teaching, competitions and collaborations with artists and architects. My work has been studying advanced techniques and technologies that being used by industrial design and somehow bringing an architectural scale to the proposed projects. Furniture and body scale installations have been main focus for the last few years, where I had a chance to implement and test some interesting ideas.

FS: What is "design" for you?
OO: For me design is actually most of the time, creating new problems rather than solving existing problems. It is perhaps usually generating new ideas and ideally bringing them to the mainstream to enhance our living conditions.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
OO: Everything. I had a chance to work on furniture, architecture and several consumer products so far but I have been also looking at vehicle and transport design recently for a research project.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
OO: Each project had so many different challenges so far. I think due to their exclusivity to the briefs and conditions, most of them are quite unique in different aspects whether its technology, location or type.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
OO: My first official design commission was a pet furniture for a small company (PetDreamHouse) in U.K. It was quite unique since it is not for people but had a very positive response from both consumers and the client so far.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
OO: On my earlier studies, I have been experimenting with plywood but recently combining multiple materials was quite interesting. With Cellular coffee table, I have started experimenting with both nylon and metal by using 3d printing and metal-forming. Each material and technology give completely different responses in terms of both material performance and user feedback. With this client (Janusta) we have previously worked with metal and marble and the challenge of creating perforated metal surfaces brought us to the using 3D printing for actual product while controlling some parts with metal again.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
OO: Evenings.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
OO: Proportions. On every project, geometry and proportions are quite essential. This includes again consideration of user, material and finally the context whether it's a furniture or architectural project.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
OO: Skeptical.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
OO: Critical.

FS: What makes a design successful?
OO: I think a design project can be success or failure on different areas. A project can be a commercial success while failing to response or predict a new way of using a certain living condition. Or a project can be a complete commercial failure in the beginning but then it can create very interesting and critical conversations for its brief and existence in the first place.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
OO: I'm always very critical and skeptical about my work, especially during early stages. Proportions and its relation to the user and context is very important so I try to produce many options (mostly on my budget!) to re-evaluate several conditions before final realization.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
OO: Particularly, for my own work, probably the biggest responsibility is being highly critical about the work on every stage to raise interesting questions. This could fall into any condition whether it's environmental, technical, or social.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
OO: I believe globalization and economy has affected design industry massively in the last few years. Manufacturers and fabricators are open to new collaborations and ideas to test or challenge some new techniques. We might start seeing the emergence of combining both technological and traditional production techniques and technologies on different geographies.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
OO: I have recently exhibited a competition winning entry at Tokyo Design Week on october 2014. Previously involved in several collective exhibitions in London and Tokyo again.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
OO: Due to my work and background I travel a lot. This might have been giving me quite objective attitude for each project. I particularly enjoy Japanese culture and find their both radical and holistic approach to everyday items since my early days of studying.

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?
OO: Probably due to my architectural education, I do approach every project quite analytically. The form, context, materials, users and almost every aspect have to be carefully analyzed and finally given restrictions create very interesting ideas to explore new conditions. The approach is usually challenging the brief, asking or bringing new questions rather than problem-solving attitude.

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?
OO: I live in London. I was born in Turkey and moved to London about 10 years ago. I carry 2 different passports and my family has always been also scattered around Europe so I believe nationality would be getting more irrelevant in the near future but obviously my previous background and current living conditions, due its geography and culture, have been probably affecting my projects.

FS: How do you work with companies?
OO: Mostly they contact me. 1/3 of my work is still coming from quite challenging competition entries so I have been very lucky to be approached by people who had been willing to push their comfort zone!

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
OO: I think open competition system is still very useful. With a fair and professional judging system, both designers and commercial entities can collaborate on very exciting and fruitful projects.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
OO: I have been developing my own work since 2009 so I might say I'm still evolving my process. There is not any singular or particular top-down system to approach any brief or project so far. However, the deep analysis of the user, material and context have been very important. I try to analyze the given situation quite carefully and each design move usually comes from very specific restrictions.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
OO: Fridge, Oven, dishwasher, washing machine and finally my espresso pot!

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
OO: Every day has been quite random so far. Loads of travelling has been the only static aspect I guess due to my teaching activities.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
OO: Both architecture and design are very difficult disciplines. Being a designer needs a very personal commitment, continuous research and curiosity. Finally not taking yourself too seriously!

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
OO: I think dealing with both culture and technology is quite positive in addition to other creative aspects of being in the design field. However, the financial circumstances can be considered negative for some as both design and architecture needs several years of investigation and maturity to finally sustain an affordable life standards.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
OO: No golden rule or specific "dogma" for me so far.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
OO: Drawing is still quite an essential skill. Even though, we work with computers quite early stages, drawing gives designers a very specific "thinking" approach both for representation and analysis of conditions.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
OO: I have been using both very traditional and technological tools since the earlier days. Due to my studio's location (Hackney, London) I have been very lucky to collaborate with quite highly skilled fabricators and manufacturers. I also use rapid prototyping tools a lot (laser cutting and 3D Printing) at earlier stages to analyze loads of different options. Finally, drawing is still an important aspect for my projects for both communication and exploring ideas.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
OO: I think all designers are very bad with time management. With every project or competition, new knowledge or experience comes in so I'm probably getting maybe more efficient at some stages but I'm still trying to make sure that time or budget constraints do not affect the qualities that we have been looking for.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
OO: Depends on every project. For cellular table, from the first discussion to final prototype took almost 7 months.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
OO: How much is it ?!

FS: What was your most important job experience?
OO: I have previously worked at Foster+Partners for 2 years. I had a chance to work on quite exciting projects on different scale so I think this gave me a very fast knowledge about architecture and design after my education.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
OO: Janusta (Turkey), PetDreamHouse(UK) and several private individuals in Spain.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
OO: Furniture has been very interesting for me. The fact that it has a strong connection to its users and architectural nature, brings up very interesting conditions and conversations for each project.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
OO: I have been working on several public competitions. A public furniture commission in U.K., private competition in Italy for a sanitary brand and an architectural commission in Barcelona for a refurbishment of an existed cafe-park.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
OO: I'm mostly involved from every stage by myself, mainly in design. For challenging issues like engineering or fabrication, I tend to collaborate with consultants here in London.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
OO: I have been working on a new limited edition furniture commission for a private client in Spain. We have been developing a dining and working table for a live-work space, that can accommodate six people in total. We have started to experiment with perforated leather and working on a very experimental way of using upholstery on this furniture in order to create a quite lightweight result.

FS: How can people contact you?
OO: E-mail: Tel: +44 (0) 20 8983 9671 Web:

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
OO: Thank you so much!

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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