Q&A with Dan Savage, Tektura
Design Insider were lucky enough to get to speak to Dan Savage, artist, graphic designer, sculptor and illustrator who has recently created a collection of bespoke wallcoverings for Tektura. Dan specialises in healthcare environments and the public sectors and works with a wide range of materials. He creates permanent artworks that are integrated within architectural spaces, and has completed over 40 projects since setting up his studio following a degree in Fine Art, and a masters in Architectural Glass. Dan is married with 3 children and lives and works from the lovely city of York.
Dan’s designs are used extensively in health care interiors, providing nostalgic and uplifting scenes drawn from nature, landscapes and village life. He has created these murals exclusively for Tektura, we catch up with him about his collection here…
How did you get involved with creating this new range of wallcoverings with Tektura?
Tektura has been creating bespoke wallcoverings for me for a number of years, mostly for healthcare interiors and I have always been hugely impressed by their product and service. Sometimes, it can take a while to get just the right colour or finish and they have always been so patient, taking a truly collaborative approach. As my healthcare clients increased in number, so too did the demand for my hand drawn scenic wallpaper.
I think the starting point for this particular style of wallpaper was a project for Roker & Mowbray, a dementia assessment unit in Sunderland; the first NHS project to achieve a Stirling University gold award for dementia design. Patients, staff and visitors loved walking round and seeing the familiar life-size scenes and we soon found that the patients were prompted to talk about their holidays and childhood memories, purely as a result of looking my artwork. Providing an opportunity for reminiscence inspired me and caught the attention of other dementia units and care homes.
Tektura approached me in the summer of 2016 to collaborate with them, to create a brand new wallpaper series, exclusively for them, based on these successful projects. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. The new mural collection is a departure for Tektura, as these designs offer a mix and match approach, where elements of scenes can be easily shuffled to suit a client’s space, enabling the client to be involved in the design process too.How do you create your designs with the healthcare sector in mind?
My work always begins with the client and the potential users, and for over 10 years 90% of my clients have been in healthcare so I understand the sector well. The beneficial psychological and physiological effects, which art has on hospital patients, are well documented. When creating integral artwork for new build or refurbished health care environments, I believe that, above all else, it must be accessible and appropriate for patients with wide ranging health, behavioural and emotional needs. The artwork has an important function in creating positive distractions, wayfinding, and providing the optimum level of stimulation.
At its best, art has the ability to reduce anxiety and stress and even physical pain. When designing, I try and keep the message calm, yet uplifting and inviting, always thinking how an ordinary member of the public might feel and how they might respond personally to the art. Typically I focus on the subjects of nature and familiar scenes, as most people can connect with these images in a positive way. I avoid ambiguous imagery and use a bold and clear style to avoid confusion. By varying the level of detail, scale and colour, the artwork keeps the viewer engaged. The hand drawn life size scenes are particularly accessible in the care home sector, as they interest patients without deceiving them.
“At it’s best, art has the ability to reduce anxiety and stress and even physical pain.”
Materials also need to be carefully considered for healthcare environments. I only use strong and durable materials can be easily cleaned, for infection control. Obviously the Tektura wallpaper I use is Class 0 fire rated and tough enough for challenging environments. I also use hpl cladding, silk-screen printed glass, window film, UPVC hygienic wall cladding as well as steel and timber. Safety is paramount – avoiding sharp edges, trip hazards, climbable objects, and ligature points. What inspires your designs?
I am inspired by a whole range of sources,although the natural world has to be number one. It is an endless source of inspiration that I will never tire of. Collaborating with architects and interior designers has hugely influenced my practice and I am so fortunate to have met some wonderful people along the way. I feel that for the artwork to be truly integral to a scheme, it should be specified early in the project and should tie in with surrounding finishes, colours and textures.
I have a variety of styles from free-flowing graphics , often using text, to more detailed drawing. What unites them all is that they originate from my hand drawn images, which are then digitally manipulated.
We notice that you draw a lot of architecture, Do you have a particular era you enjoy drawing most and why?
I am fascinated by architecture, and architectural details. I am not loyal to any particular era, enjoying the juxtaposition of different architectural styles. I like looking for patterns and unusual details, as well as the way the built environment interacts with the natural environment. Drawing buildings humanises them, and even the most boring buildings can become interesting and appealing in drawn form.What are your top tips when designing for a mural/wallcovering?
My top tip for designing a mural/wallcovering is to visualise what it will look like when it is in situ – thinking about scale, handrail heights, chair heights etc. It needs to be suitable for any space, and there are factors that are often outside the designer’s control. Often, a mural might look great on paper, but on the wall, some of it might be hidden or appear disconcerting or out of place. I hope that my murals have taken all of these factors into consideration and will work in any space.
And lastly, If you could sum up design in one word, what would it be? and why?
Appreciation…an appreciation of the world around me, of aesthetics, of harmony, and of the needs of the clients.
Thank you Dan, for giving us a wonderful insight into your collection with Tektura and what your work means to you. If you would like to speak with Tektura about Dan’s work with them, come see them at stand 9 at BCFA OPEN SPRING DESIGN, at The Old Truman Brewery, London March 28th & 29th.