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Interview with Nora Voon

Home > Designer Interviews > Nora Voon

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Nora Voon (NV) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Nora Voon by clicking here.

Interview with Nora Voon at Thursday 12th of May 2022

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?
NV: I graduated with post graduate degree in Interior architecture from Inchbald school of design in London, UK.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
NV: Noda Designs was founded in London UK in 2007 however we moved our studio to Toronto, Canada in 2013 and we do commercial and residential projects internationally. In addition to interior design, we also have our own product range that includes outdoor furniture, home accessories and lighting.

FS: What is "design" for you?
NV: Design is non-linear, it is a process to understand the brief to create something imaginative but challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to a project.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
NV: I love designing products especially lighting and furniture, but I also adore a good challenging interior space.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
NV: The Fornasetti flagship store in Milan on Corso Venezia is pretty spectacular. I love everything about it. So much history, story telling and good design means timelessness which is what I love about this space. Although the interior is constantly changing it never ceases to disappoint.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
NV: Countryside Mansion - I was part of a team working on a countryside property for a client in Hertfordshire, UK

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
NV: Jesmonite - an ecofriendly product that is known as the Chameleon material because it can replicate a diverse range of textures and fine details. The potential with Jesmonite materials are endless, from terrazzo and marble designs to mixing pigments to create unique colours are just a few ways to create amazing bespoke products. As designers, we all love archiproducts because it's a platform that has everything one needs for anything relating to design. Technology - Corona renderer is pretty awesome, the render image is very realistic and the quality is super refined.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
NV: Most creative in the late hours of the night.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
NV: The process is important. Getting the brief right is crucial to kicking off a successful project.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
NV: I usually start each project with a lot of enthusiasm

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
NV: Satisfied. :-)

FS: What makes a design successful?
NV: It's functional and beautiful to look at but also seamless - Good design should feel like it's always been there, that one can't think of any other way it would work but exactly the way it was meant to be.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
NV: I look for functionality, if it's user friendly, and of course the beauty of it.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
NV: As designers it is our duty to make sure that we design with a conscious mind using sustainable resources where possible, and making sure that we leave something for the future generation to look forward to and continue to make and design products and environments that are functional, serves a purpose, create positive energies and moods. Design has the power to enrich lives and evoke powerful emotions.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
NV: I think the future of design is focusing more on artisanal craftsmanship, less waste and more sustainability. It's definitely asking designers to design more consciously, with an effort to make sure that we choose quality over quantity. Technology also plays a big part in our design industry these days with new innovations on many products that we work with, things have come a long way. I remember I had to learn manual hand drafting but today when I interview new hire, they have no clue how to do manual hand drafting anymore. :-(

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
NV: We were the finalist in Toronto for 2020 on our HQ table competition hosted by UMBRA for DesignTO and our table was part of that exhibition. We also won the Bronze award from A' Design award (2021) for our HQ table and it was featured in the Museum of Design at Lake Como. At the moment we don't know when our next exhibition will take place but we are actually talking to a few artists that may do a solo exhibition in our flagship showroom in Toronto.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
NV: I travel extensively in search of inspiration. I find different cultures and cities fascinating and often feed my creativity by using the knowledge and experiences I collected over the years. As I produce my collection of furniture and home accessories in many different countries, I work with local artisans and sometimes I find inspiration in the history and culture of the place I'm producing from and also incorporate that into my interior design as well.

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?
NV: Eclectic bold? lol I don't even know how to describe my style. I don't follow design trends and I love a mix of vintage and very contemporary design styles with an injection of colours and textures. I guess you would call it Maximalism. I approach each design differently depending on the brief, place, atmosphere and surroundings because I believe that good design not only looks good and works well but it also has to suit the environment it's in and the current surroundings.

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?
NV: I currently live between Toronto, Canada and London, UK and spend my summers in the Middle East. I was born in Malaysia and grew up my first half of life in Asia. Of course where you live influences your style immensely, as a self proclaimed nomad that can't sit still, I move around a lot and as a result of that i think that is why I have an eclectic style. I don't think it is necessarily good or bad as a result of living in the country you live in in the design process, I think that one is greatly influenced by their surroundings, so in a way, it will effect the way you design for sure and whether or not your community accepts your style and design views.

FS: How do you work with companies?
NV: We usually work on a commission base structure. If it is a bespoke item we work together to make sure the elements and details are correct for execution.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
NV: In today's environment, companies can have a pretty good idea by going to the designer's website or social media page to see their work. I would also suggest getting to know the designer and also ask a lot of questions.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
NV: It varies, sometimes you get a project and it's already inspiring from the start then that's an easy execution because it's fun and exciting and you want to get your hands on it as much as possible. For interior design, usually I start by accumulating a lot of inspirational images to get the creative juices going and develop a unifying theme/style for the overall project. From there, I look at the brief and what are the necessities and making sure that those are incorporated in the design, and after that I make sure to add a lot of textures, or patterns and colours to add that personal touch. I love to add humour to my designs and it's very prominent in my product design. For product design - that also varies, sometimes all it takes is a 10 min brainstorming and I know what I want to design and execute it pretty quickly like the Memphis chair or the HQ table, both of which I've won awards for but took me no more 30 mins to design them. Then there are products that took me years to research and develop like my lighting collection from finding the right materials to use or simply finding a factory or artisan who can actually realize my vision.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
NV: My pair of 70s vintage armchairs from Italy upholstered in a fluffy Loro Piana fabric, my collection of vintage Murano ashtrays and vases, my very own Noda Charlie tray, Mario Bellini Camaleonda sectional and my bookcase Henge07.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
NV: Not really, let's just say it's full of colours and possibilities. lol

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
NV: Travel as far as you can, as often as you are able to. This will change you as a designer and hone your eyes to see the details and unique things. You will learn so much from understanding different surroundings including how people design due to different weather conditions, culture and the use of different materials and textures, I can go on forever but ultimately travel is key.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
NV: Pros - you get to design things that you like and make it come to life is a pretty awesome feeling, or the satisfaction that one day you may change the look of a city or place. Cons - long hours, if you are a product designer, there is no guarantee that your work will be successful or well received,

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
NV: Can I say 'you buy shit you pay twice' ? just kidding, Golden rule, make sure it works!

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
NV: Listening

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
NV: I use vectorworks for designing, corona, 3ds max, photoshop, Rhino.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
NV: Any creative person will tell you we are the worse at managing our time... I work late hours, sometimes into the weekends especially when I'm in the zone, I sometimes work through the night to get a presentation finished. I find that the key is to manage your team with delegating responsibilities. That way you get to have a few brains working together on ideas and of course efficiency.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
NV: It depends, sometimes I can design something in less than 20 minutes and sometimes it takes years to develop a good product.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
NV: what inspires you?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
NV: working on site with trades and going through the details and technical components, because that's where you learn the most.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
NV: Our clients come from all over the world, we have projects locally and internationally.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
NV: I enjoy commercial designs actually because it is less personal and creatively one gets more freedom with that.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
NV: My future plans are to expand our products range, do more commercial projects especially in hospitality.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
NV: I work with a team of designers to develop our design ideas

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
NV: Interior projects we have a few running concurrently and they are all quite big so it will take us some time to finish. We are currently working on a collection of giant snow globes. I like to incorporate humour in my products and this time it's no different. The snow globes are reinterpreted

FS: How can people contact you?
NV: website https://nodadesigns.com/ email info@nodadesigns.com

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
NV: no


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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