Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Richard Harlow (RH) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Richard Harlow by clicking here.
Interview with Richard Harlow at Monday 29th of February 2016
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?
RH: I first became interested in design when I was in school. I found it fascinating creating something from an idea in my head and seeing it develop and become a finished corporeal product. My family also owned an arts and crafts shop which allowed me an opportunity to experiment with various materials and mediums furthering my interest. I continued to study design in university where I completed my undergrad and masters degrees. Since then I have perused an interest in sustainable design.
FS: What is "design" for you?
RH: For me, design is where all activities meet. Art, science, engineering, psychology and economy all interact with design creating products an systems which make life easier and more interesting, allowing us to do thing that would never have been possible for us before.
FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
RH: I love working with wood and natural materials, especially when I'm making furniture.
FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
RH: Wood turning has always been a favorite process of mine. I love the flexibility you have with shaping and finishing wood on a lathe.
FS: When do you feel the most creative?
RH: I feel most creative after watching movies that I find inspirational or insightful.
FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
RH: Primarily i concentrate on sustainability, functionality and usability. If I have gotten these aspects right I find the other fall into place quite easily.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
RH: When I design I feel happiness excitement and contentment. There is little I enjoy doing more.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
RH: When I finish a design I generally feel a mixture of pride for the work I have done and excitement for the next project i plan to start.
FS: What makes a design successful?
RH: A successful design is ones that fulfills the users needs while giving them a level of usability they hadn't expected.
FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
RH: I think that to a point it a designers job to stand slightly outside society looking for ways to improve it or make things easier for those who are a part of it. As users aren't always aware of what they need from a product and additionally aren't aware of the impact those product may have on the environment. a designers key role should be to create the best solution for the largest number of people.
FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
RH: The design field is drifting towards tackling larger and more significant issues and innovations. With issues arising as a result of overpopulation, resource scarcity, global warming and a greater emphasis on cultural diversity new problems and solutions are arising on a daily basis making it an exciting time for designers.
FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
RH: Generally I try to deeply empathize with the user and problem they are facing. Research is a heavy influence in my design process
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?
RH: I would describe my style as minimalist, efficient and clean. I find that form and function are synonymous in product development, and that a product becomes truly beautiful when it works well and its been designed with as few parts as possible.
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?
RH: Currently I live in Wales UK. It has a very beautiful countryside and I find that it has a big impact on my sketching work. Generally though I find that wales doesn't have a any unique design or architectural styles, and more often than not i find myself inspired by minimalist design styles such as traditional Japanese wood work, are deco or Nordic design.
FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
RH: When working with designers i would say that there should be no such thing as a bad idea. Many ideas may seem extreme at first, but as they develop they can yield unforeseen fruit that can trigger innovative design solutions. Companies often look primarily at a designers experience and not at their potential. Employers should have systems in place to gauge a designers creativity and potential and not only look at a designers portfolio.
FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
RH: 1.My smart phone for the convenience of listening to audio books, music, and accessing interesting facts. 2.My headphones, they are beautiful to look at and have crystal clear sound quality. 3. My alarm clock which is made from a simple block of wood that has a front so thin that the light shines directly through the veneer. 4. My Orangebox Ara office chair. 5. Japanese style tea pot and cups.
FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
RH: I typically wake up at six am, get ready and commute to work via bike and train. I work from half eight to half four where I produce CAD models and engineering drawings for a large diameter pipe manufacturer. after finishing work i commute home and spend the evening cooking, sketching and reading.
FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
RH: First and foremost don't give up. Design can be highly competitive and its easy to become disheartened when applying for jobs or even being turned down for a position. The same can apply to generating ideas in the development process where designers block can cause a lot of stress.
FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
RH: Keeping calm and a good sense of humor in any situation. When a deadline is looming, its far too easy to get stressed out and get a horrible case of designers block. If a person can stay calm hand optimistic everything will work out fine.
FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
RH: The time to design a product can vary between a couple of days to a couple of years. Depending on the product being designed and the needs you are trying to meet there is no fixed time frame.
FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
RH: Mainly I get asked "what do you design?", to which I usually reply "whatever I'm asked too".
FS: What was your most important job experience?
RH: I would have to say working overtime at the Ecodesign Centre to meet a deadline. Working with a group of people who are passionate about getting a deliverable out is the best reminder of why design is a career worth pursuing.
FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
RH: I mostly enjoy concept generation. During the concept stage there are no bad ideas and anything is possible.
FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
RH: Next I would like to have a position working primarily in sustainable design. I find that thinking with the environment in mind tends to yield the most efficient and creative outcomes.
FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
RH: I mainly work alone, but I am always open to projects with partners or teams.
FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
RH: Right now I'm working on a reuse project, creating a coffee table using a recycled fish tank. I have based the design around a minimalist wooden frame pained white, and have introduced a contrasting rich wood finish for the table top and shelves. The top also slides to reveal an opening into the fish tank which is able to be used as a display unit.
FS: How can people contact you?
RH: I am easily contacted via my email firstname.lastname@example.org, or alternatively on linkedin.
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