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Interview with Teodora Panayotova and Max Baklayan

Home > Designer Interviews > Teodora Panayotova and Max Baklayan

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Teodora Panayotova and Max Baklayan (TPAMB) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Teodora Panayotova and Max Baklayan by clicking here.

Interview with Teodora Panayotova and Max Baklayan at Sunday 22nd 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?
TPAMB: "In all of my earliest memories, I am drawing. You could say that I've been striving to be an artist of some sort since I was a child. I attended drawing classes and competitions throughout my school years. When I chose a high school, I fought my parents to attend the "National High School of Stage and Film Design" in Plovdiv; it was far from home, and I would be living alone, but I prevailed. Once I graduated, my path was clear; I knew I wanted to make a career out of improving the environment and creating spaces for better living, working, and recreation. I majored in engineering design, furniture design, and interior design. As soon as I graduated, I became an interior designer. But after more than a 7-year career, I felt the need to acquire a Master's degree and enrolled at the "National Academy of Arts" in Sofia to study visual communication. " - Teodora Panayotova.

FS: What is "design" for you?
TPAMB: "Design" is what makes the world a better place.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
TPAMB: I like designing everything, from products to public spaces. But what I enjoy and derive the most satisfaction from is - home design. There is no greater vote of confidence than being entrusted with designing the most intimate space in a person's life. I believe that an interior of a home sets the tone of life, influences relationships, inspires work, and shapes the thoughts.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
TPAMB: The "Carlton dresser" by Ettore Sottsass is a piece of design that instantly comes to mind. I am mesmerized by it because it is a lovechild of art and design, the proof that art can have a function and remain art.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
TPAMB: When designing an interior space, everything requires attention. However, there are two pillars on which any interior stands - floor planning and light distribution. Getting those two done right is the half-mile marker of any interior project.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
TPAMB: Seeing a realized design inevitably brings feelings of satisfaction and happiness. A realized project is the greatest tribute to a designer's work.

FS: What makes a design successful?
TPAMB: No matter what type of design we are talking about, four components make it successful - appearance, functionality, use of suitable materials, and simplicity.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
TPAMB: Simplicity, or in the words of the great Frank Lloyd Wright - "Less is more."

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
TPAMB: Designers are responsible for the quality of life on a global scale. They are the ones to improve daily life both physically and emotionally. But none of those things will matter unless the materials and designs we use are for the benefit of the environment or, at the very least, do not harm it.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
TPAMB: I would say the psychology of the designers has evolved immensely in recent times, leading to the evolution of the design field in general. Designers have understood the responsibility on their shoulders and have turned to much more sustainable ideas like zero waste, carbon neutrality, or even Net-zero approaches. Art will not save the world, but good design can.

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?
TPAMB: I refuse to operate in a single design style because they raise boundaries. My designs are based on my approach, which is to understand the needs, understand the use, know the client/user and create my vision of what they want and need. A design's purpose is to be useful to those who will interact with it.

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?
TPAMB: I live in Sofia, Bulgaria. My country has a vibrant cultural heritage, which is indeed a source of inspiration. It has been under communist rule for close to 50 years and a not-so-successful transition from it for the last 30 years. Ironically, the daily interaction with the city and its shortcomings fills me with inspiration and motivation.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
TPAMB: Every new project is a challenge, and the most critical step for me is to immerse myself into the life of a person, family, or company and study it. Instead of their life or work being an inconvenience to me, I weaponize it and make it my source of inspiration. It becomes a challenge to take what they want, which in most cases is alien to me, and create something that is still theirs yet created in a way they have never imagined.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
TPAMB: Chair_ONE with concrete base by Konstantin Grcic NIKKEBY by L Hilland/J Karlsson for IKEA FOLKIFUNKI duck vase for VISTA ALEGRE By Jaime Hayon MIFFY RABBIT First Light Mr Maria JUICY SALIF designed by Philippe Starck for Alessi

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
TPAMB: If you see things that are "wrong" around you, if you feel the "need" to make them better, if you feel like things can be "made better" for others, then being a designer is for you. Seeing something you dreamt up in your head come to life in the real world is the most rewarding experience one can have as a professional. As far as downsides go, every designer is an artist at heart, but you have to put a price on your work; unlike most artists, it pollutes the creative process.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
TPAMB: There are no rules.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
TPAMB: I don't, it's a mess.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
TPAMB: This depends on too many variables. It would be irresponsible to give any amount of time as an answer as it may give the wrong impression to the readers. Depending on the set goal, two identical "objects" can be designed in a day or a lifetime.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
TPAMB: After creating countless amounts of one-off furniture and solutions for individual projects, it is time to create furniture pieces available to a larger audience. I have always wanted this and have worked tirelessly on some rebellious ideas. Hopefully, they will be coming to market soon.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
TPAMB: There are several that I would like to talk about, but I will keep them a secret for now.

FS: How can people contact you?
TPAMB: info@teodorapanayotova.com; teodorapanayotova.com


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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