Hello Scott. Lovely to have met you at New Designers! Congratulations on finishing your degree and showcasing the work in London – something to be very proud of. Tell us a little something about yourself as an introduction before we commence this interview.
Hello Nicola, it was lovely to have met you as well. Thank you for braving the overwhelming heat in the exhibition hall that day! A little about me… well I have just graduated from the University of Hertfordshire in Industrial Design (or Product Design – I have come to learn these titles are very location dependant in definition). I’ve lived and grown up in London and I suppose this is where my sort of early fascinations with design really came from. For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed just wandering the streets and looking at the broad variety of shapes and light the city has to offer. From the 300-year-old houses of Spitalfields to the lights of the Southbank, I suppose design has always caught my eye. Light being something I am pretty passionate about in design. I’m also a bit of an art geek, I can usually be found in a gallery of some kind at least once or twice a week.
Bold in design, and environmentally testing – talk us through your final project that won you entry into New Designers 2015 – congratulations! How did it all come about?
Of course! Well the project all started really when I was considering urban street lighting and how poorly designed it is in most areas for its current day usage. Mainly due to old installations, poor efficiency and light-colour induced health issues. It wasn’t until speaking with real residents of these urban areas that I realised that many of the current road issues they face are with lighting and driving. I.e. Low emission zones and taxes. Many of them bringing up their considerations for electric cars but quickly suppressed by the realisation that it just isn’t a realistic way of life for them.
That was where I was confused…the cars themselves are becoming better and better yet adoption is slow. Upon research it was a matter of charge point infrastructure. Costly to maintain, run and install. With most city residents without off street parking, many only received a charge while at a super market!
My design itself is essentially a new solution to the problems faced by electric vehicle owners in urban areas. It was designed as a model for one of the most cost effective ways to bring the network to a standard for people to live with day to day.
The concept involves a new lamppost, one that instead of being useless during daylight hours acts as a car charging base point. Standard curbstones along the pavement are then replaced with new false stones that provide the plug in charge sockets for the cars. This means installations for a whole street are now cheaper and less intrusive (no more flashing charging posts for every parking space). As the electrical supply is already in space it is a simple retrofit solution that not only makes EV ownership more realistic but also makes the road a safer place. Allowing lighting colours/intensities to be changed remotely depending on road conditions and location. The design is also a modular system with 3 possible combinations, meaning there is a solution for all locations: residential or as a public way finding point.
In terms of the visual appearance, I took more influences from architecture for this piece. I wanted to create something people will feel proud off, yet not feel it was too much of an eye sore or ‘too different’ for their area. Something all round a little different yet would fit in anywhere. Therefore I took influences from gothic fan vaulting in the main upright sections, using the same style and colours I hoped it would make the piece feel more organic and long established. Not new but appreciated…like a church does. The further simplifications of the shape and more modernist touches are a take on 30’s tube stations and developments. A real changing point in infrastructure and a style becoming more and more appreciated today. I wanted to create something that will last and be as welcome now as it is in the future. Much like these structures.
The plants…well they were an addition to reflect light downwards and help reduce light pollution but they work nicely to bring colour to the city street. I suppose a kind of garden outside of your second floor office window.
Where do you look for influences when working on your own projects?
I suppose it varies greatly what will influence my projects but I seem to always look at architecture and art for some reason. Particularly sculpture. I think; when I work on new projects I like to try and never lose sight on what kind of feeling I am trying to instill with what I create. Think of it as how different you feel towards a Gothic Cathedral to a Modernist 1930’s Building, A Turner against and Seurat or a Chinese teapot against a Glass Kettle. Ultimately they are the same item, yet the feelings they convey are completely different. I just feel that many of the items in our everyday lives are possibly not as considered in a human aspect as they could be and I don’t want to create experiences for people that aren’t positive.
If I had to pick out particular influences, I think I would have to say the work of Henry Moore has been a particular favorite of mine. I just feel his pieces and ideas changed so much over the decades he worked, he pushed boundaries and produced shapes that really capture the emotions of the time. Yet he still remained true to his materials and continued to work in the ways and mediums he loved best. I’m also a big fan of early 20th century architecture; I think there’s something about the contrasts of smooth forms and slicing edges that really evoke a feeling of change and excitement. For that reason alone I love it.
Now a recent graduate you’ve completed a successful education! Was the expectation of university what you had expected going into it at the beginning? Any surprises along the way?
I like to think I went into university with a very open mind. I mean I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just knew where I wanted to get to and what I enjoyed doing. But I feel I learnt so much, not only in the way of skills and professional development but also in the way I look at and see things. We were one of the few universities in the country to still have a design studio, a place where we could work at all hours together. Everyone had their own space and it is surprising just how close you become with people. Having such a space really makes you influence (and criticise) each others work and builds this wonderful creative Petri dish if you will. I think that was the biggest surprises for me but by far one of the best experiences I can take into a working career.
What comes first, the materials or the design ideas?
I suppose the ideas come first, but materials is usually always in my mind somewhere. I like to consider shape and form, but have some kind of eye on what is always possible. The material is important and I think when you consider its appearance and tactile nature it is just as much as a design idea as any other part of the design.
Sustainable development is on the world’s lips at the moment; acknowledging that when natural materials are used there needs to be growth and balance with the environment. How do you go about this matter with your own work? Do you take into account the types of materials used?
This is something I love to consider in the design process. It makes your design just feel that much more refined and thought-out. I usually like to design with would be the best possible material for a task and then step back and consider “Is it really the best option…?”. For instance, it may be that a structure could actually be made from a FSC sourced wooden frame…but in other scenarios a fiberglass shell is the only viable option, in this case I’d look for an alternative such as a fully recyclable resin. There are so many new and interesting materials out there now, it just needs that extra time to explore to find them.
What is next for you now that summer lies ahead and the working world engulfs you?
The question every graduate never likes to hear…well so they say anyway. I’m really looking forward to getting myself into a job where I can continue to create and build on ideas. Its what the last 3-5 years has been leading to and to get to this point finally is really exciting. Something similar to my final project would be great, I’ve always enjoyed designing to a product need and particularly lighting really interests me. Who knows what the future will bring I suppose…
Now, tell us something that not many people know about you…
Hmm, that’s a tough one. I think it may be the fact that I paint… oh and I can make a pretty darn good zoo of balloon animals 🙂