Designer Q&A: Ben Grafton, Teal Living

Design Insider had the great opportunity to sit down with product designer Ben Grafton to interview him about one of his latest projects with Teal Living, ROKU.

Teal Ben Grafton 1

“When design performs its function but goes unnoticed that’s good design”

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Design?

I have always loved design, ever since my A Level Design I was hooked. For me I am very lucky to view what I do as a vocation not a job. I have been incredibly blessed by benefiting from a very steep learning curve but incredibly formative early career having got me where I am today.

What inspires your designs day to day? Is there an ongoing theme?

Everyday inspires me. Anything that is well done inspires me. Only the other day having purchased a sandwich I was really impressed by the packaging – something so simple yet the design was ingenious.

Teal ROKU 3

Can you tell us about the Roku collection you collaborated with Teal Lifecare? What was the brief set?

Being invited to compliment an existing range of innovative and stylish seating solutions for Teal Lifestyle was a welcome challenge but a tough one.

The main priority of the brief was to move away from the standard traditional styling and create a multi-environment, stylish, practical and totally different seating that would provide non-institutional and pleasing aesthetics for multiple healthcare environments, including challenging behaviour.

Embedded throughout the brief was the requirement to place the user at the heart of the process. Ultimately we had to create a product that was unique to the market but fit for the environment as well as the welfare of both users and carers.

Teal are always rethinking care environments so it was essential the design and consultation process experimented with design and material options whilst challenging current market thinking.

Were there any issues that you had to overcome within the design process?

Going through this kind of process always throws up unforeseen problems. We encountered niggles but nothing challenging or detrimental to the vision.

Niggles during the design process are always positive and offer the opportunity to fine-tune and develop a truly considered quality product.

Throughout the processes, compliance, market receptiveness and marketing opportunities were thoroughly researched to leave us with two modelled working concepts.

Teal ROKU Angle

What was the outcome? Do you love it?

We’re very proud of it; made entirely from one piece of rotationally moulded polyethylene we created a contemporary but secure, innovative and versatile product called Roku.

A Japanese word for six Roku refers to the chair’s six sided hexagonal shape and feature set of the six applicable environments – bedroom, lounge, reception, dining, high security and outdoor and can be supplied fully upholstered, non upholstered or with a seat pad.

The six-sided shape offers complete anti-ligature and concealment free design with rounded edges, no sharp corners, a flowing design with self-righting assist and a UV stabiliser.

It is unique and definitely sets Teal Lifecare apart from other traditional options.

We’re not the only ones to love it either. The team never envisaged the Roku would appeal to the leisure market but it has and features in hotel lobbies as well as non-managed areas of challenging behaviour environments. 

What’s next?

I’m afraid mum’s the word on what’s next but be sure Teal are always innovating and will be unveiling new ranges during 2017.

And one last question, if you could sum up design in one word, what would it be and why?

It’s a mark of good design; I always find you’ve experienced good design when you haven’t been conscious of it. It could be the sandwich packing you unwrapped today or, close to my heart, a chair you sat on in a restaurant, café or hotel lobby. When design performs its function but goes unnoticed that’s good design.

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About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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