Last week we met three designers, each at very different stages of their careers, Amy Pears, Designer at Johnson Tiles, Fiona Davidson, freelance designer and senior lecturer and Jonathan Hindle, KI’s Group Managing Director, who founded the Design Guild Mark in 2008.
In our 4th post we meet designer Helen Strevens who shows us how you can forge your own path and hold the pressure to digitise design at bay. We learn how designer Sue Watkins was led by material exploration into her position with Chad Lighting and how SpaceInvader was launched by John Williams after experience across multiple sectors and continents.
Helen Strevens: Directer at HMS Studio
After graduating with a degree in architecture I worked in advertising first and then film set design and eventually back to architecture. I work exclusively on the drawing board and it is hand drawing that I am most passionate about.
A few years ago I started my own design company so I could develop my work into objects or across mediums such as china, wall coverings and textiles.
Now I both produce to sell and licence my designs. While I love what I do I find the most difficult aspect is fighting off the digital pressure. On the one hand you cannot hide yourself away to quietly work and expect to succeed but on the other hand you do not want to create a narcissistic feedback loop which takes the place of thoughtful design.
I keep working at getting that balance right.
Sue Watkins: Head of Design at Chad Lighting
My route into design was by no means clear cut, and I had no thoughts of becoming a lighting designer when entering higher education. I don’t actually hold a specific qualification in product design but my varied and eclectic education, knowledge of a variety of processes and attainment of practical skills have moulded me into a multi disciplinarian that serves me well when considering the broad and varied nature of lighting design.
My education consists of a HND in jewellery and silversmithing, a degree in ceramics with glass, and an M.A in silversmithing and related products. Lighting design first entered my education on my ceramics degree when I chose take part in an elective subject in lighting design alongside my ceramics and glass studies. I enjoyed experimenting with the relationship of light and materials hugely, but at that time it didn’t occur to me that lighting design as a career was an option for me. Lighting design surfaced again during my final M.A. project when I opted to develop the results of an experimental stamping process into lighting products. It was then that I was introduced to Chad Lighting. I fell in love with Chad Lighting from that moment on and felt that there was a meeting of minds in terms of design core values and desperately wanted a chance contribute to the range of beautiful, well proportioned, crafted products on offer.
Thankfully, Chad Lighting took a chance and offered me that opportunity and I’ve never looked back. Designing for Chad lighting has afforded me the opportunity to bring together a range skills and ability in pursuit of developing new and exciting products in what has been a fabulous and hugely rewarding, all be it largely unplanned creative career.
John Williams: Director at SpaceInvader
Although I enjoyed other subjects at school, the creative freedom that art and design gave me was incredibly rewarding and I knew it would shape my future. After completing both art and business A Levels I applied for an art foundation course where interior design, the built environment and a lecture from Richard Rogers cemented my career path.
Early on in my professional life I moved to the USA where I spent three years designing for the automotive industry and multiple interiors schemes for private ocean front residences. Back in the UK, I sought to move into commercial and leisure sectors, and following stints with two leading architectural practices, SpaceInvader was born. The business has grown from two people working around a kitchen table to a 30-strong specialist interior design company with studios in Manchester and London. I am extremely proud to work with our talented team of designers delivering award winning schemes nationally and internationally for clients such as Astra Zeneca, Regatta and Helical.