Design Insider caught up Henry Gurney of Ocee Design to discuss through his inspiration for the HenRay Collection and his thoughts on innovation.
Henry finished his degree in Industrial Design at Loughborough University in 2009. After a momentary career as a point-to-point jockey he joined Ocee Design, quickly developing a key position as Interior and Product Design Executive. Since joining, Henry has initiated a Space Planning facility, creating 2D and 3D space plans to illustrate to Ocee customers how to best utilise furniture within a given space. This has given Henry a unique insight to customers needs and enabled him to develop his award winning range, HenRay. Now Henry is focussing on other exciting new products that focus on a stylish, contemporary aesthetic.
How did you get into design?
It was my interest in engineering, the more technical side of design that led me towards Industrial Design at University. Design is defined in my mind as a way of creating solutions that have the potential to enhance people’s everyday lives. I enjoy the challenge of developing my ideas to a tangible fruition. My specific involvement in furniture design occurred when I realised the product needed for a certain space didn’t exist. I developed a proposal and presented my ideas to OCEE Managing Director, Alistair Gough and our Research and Development Manager, Ray Hills (hence the name HenRay), and it grew momentum from there.
What does innovative design mean to you?
By its nature design should be innovative but it is incredibly difficult to be truly innovative, to break the canonical standard. To me innovative design creates something that changes people’s lives even if only in a small way. It may not necessarily change the world but if it changes one person’s life, for the better, then that is innovative design.
“To me innovative design creates something that changes people’s lives even if only in a small way.”
How did the HenRay collection come together? What was the inspiration?
HenRay is a solution to a problem. After developing the Space Planning facility at OCEE, I soon realised that there was a gap in the product portfolio. To provide an effective solution we needed a product that could be configured in a number of ways, offering both privacy for meetings, individual working, or an open collaborative space for social interactions and group brainstorming. The HenRay range has been further refined with its next of kin, the HenRay Media Unit, being launched at this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week.
Talk us through your design process…
All of my ideas start with an initial sketch. HenRay was born whilst sketching the ideal solution to space planning projects I was working on at the time. The process was trial and error, going backwards and forwards, creating ideas and testing them in real space planning environments. We undertook an extensive prototyping process to ensure we had a product that would meet the most demanding of environments.
“The process was trial and error, going backwards and forwards, creating ideas and testing them in real space planning environments.”
To you what is the most innovative design you have seen?
A friend I was at university with developed Pavegen – a smart flooring surface that captures energy from human footfall. Essentially they are converting kinetic waste energy from footsteps into renewable energy. The product has the potential to radically rethink how we generate energy in the future and has even been endorsed by Stephen Hawking! Ideas like this will play a huge role in addressing the energy issues we are currently facing.