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Interview with Raja Badr-El-Din

Home > Designer Interviews > Raja Badr-El-Din

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Raja Badr-El-Din (RB) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Raja Badr-El-Din by clicking here.

Interview with Raja Badr-El-Din at Wednesday 22nd of April 2020
Raja Badr-El-Din
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?
RB: I’ve always enjoyed making things. As a kid I would keep my pocket knife handy at all times and find any excuse to whittle a piece of wood and try to make something. As I got older the ideas became more complicated and so did the making of them. I became comfortable with the use of larger tools and would go out of my way to bring those ideas to life. Eventually, I found myself at Stanford University studying Product Design, which was my formal education and introduction into the field.

FS: What is "design" for you?
RB: For me the process of design is a way to improve the world around us. I believe my mission as a designer is to bring us closer to the people we love and places we call home. We keep that mission foremost in the choices we make when developing products and services.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
RB: At the moment furniture design has me most captivated. It can make or break spaces and is all too often considered a luxury. Our mission with JOHI is to develop pieces that are accessible across a wide range of budgets, homes, and cultures.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
RB: Directly out of school I started a company with classmates of mine from university. We spent the better part of two years designing and developing a platform to help us deal with loss. We designed an app and website that allows users to share memories of loved ones and heal through the process.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
RB: We love to work with hardwoods. Trees can be magnificent in both life and death and creating pieces that show respect to the their lifecycle is very important to us. Knowing where the tree was grown and why it was harvested brings our customers closer to the furniture they put in their home.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
RB: Creativity comes and goes. I think it is important to actively make an effort to sketch, especially when you are not in the mood. That way when the idea strikes you feel ready to tackle it.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
RB: Designing a new piece of furniture is both exciting and at times nerve racking. While we rely on past experience and knowledge to guide a design, there are always unknowns. Will the client like what you have done? Will it stand the test of time?

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
RB: Nothing is more exciting than seeing you hard work pay off. Taking an idea out of your mind and into the real world is often such a drawn out process that it can be hard to stay motivated through its entirety, but, when you reach that finish line there is nothing but pride for the diligence you’ve put in.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
RB: I think the only way to judge a design is on the basis of it staying true to its original objectives. Design is often a series of choices that send us down one path or another. It can be challenging to set aside a personal belief in order to choose the path that best solves the problems at hand, however, it seems to me the best designs always keep the brief sacred.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
RB: I think all humans have a moral obligation to make choices that benefit humanity and the world. Luckily, we live in a world where people will increasingly hold us accountable to that obligation.

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?
RB: The biggest influence on my design style comes from growing up in several different countries. Experiencing different cultures and ways of life breaks down the walls we often put on ourselves. Our hope is to design pieces that reflect this multiculturalism.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
RB: Design is iterative and collaborative. The best designer for your job is one with whom you can be honest and excited.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
RB: Designing a piece of furniture is all about collaboration with our client. We begin defining the basic guidelines and requirements for a piece. With that in hand, we will develop 3+ design directions that are often quite different from one another. From there begins a process of back and forth refinement that culminates in rendering of the piece to be built. Only then do we actually begin the fabrication.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
RB: Sketch paper Pens, pencils, and anything I can get my hands on to mark the page CAD software

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
RB: “No JUNK”

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
RB: Design always begins on paper. Spending as much time as possible sketching an idea is the fastest and most informative way to refine a design idea. Once I have exhausted my abilities with a pencil, I will move into CAD. CAD helps bring these ideas into a more explanatory 3D environment that can be understood and manipulated by the client. Inspiration is found all around these days. Out in the world and online. It is important to take a break from these when beginning your own sketches as they often put up more walls that doors.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
RB: It's funny how often people ask "You made this?" as we stand in conversation next to our handcrafted pieces. In western society, we have become so removed from the process of making that is often a shock to people that things are still made by hand, one by one.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
RB: While most of our clients are individual homeowners we also work with interior designers and business owners.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
RB: We would like to develop more standalone products that can be purchased in the < $200 category. These products will be crafted with the same quality and attention to detail as our larger products, but at a price point that makes them more accessible. We’re also working on a new collection of furniture pieces, which we hope to release mid 2020.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
RB: My wife and I work together. Two brains are always better than one.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
RB: We have been working on a new collection of home decor lamps and trivets. These can be purchased online at www.hellojohi.com. We are also working on a new collection of furniture pieces, which we hope to release mid 2020, on our website as well.

FS: How can people contact you?
RB: Email holly@hellojohi.com. You can also find us on Instagram @hellojohi, Facebook @JohiDesign, and Pinterest @JohiHome.


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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