Behind the Scenes with Managing Director, Mark Robinson 26th November 2019 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID

SBID interviewed Mark Robinson, the Managing Director of Alexander Joseph about his journey into the field of product design. We uncover how his brand of luxury lighting solutions came to life; how he got there and what he does to stay abreast of current industry challenges, whilst running a business!

Can you describe your current job?

As Managing Director of Alexander Joseph Lighting, my job is to develop the design ethic and culture in a way that establishes our young luxury brand. A significant part of this role is to ensure our designs are relevant to today’s interiors market by fostering collaborations with interior designers, artists, sculptors, and product designers to grow our range of cordless lighting products. I also take responsibility for the quality of the pieces we make and sell.

What is your background and how did you get into interior design?

My background represents the antithesis of the normal road to working within the sector! I’ve spent most of my adult life inventing first-to-market technologies and products across many sectors. After discovering I couldn’t buy decorative cordless lamps, I decided to make my own, this journey brought me into contact with interior and product designers who exhibited a passion and enthusiasm I’d never really been exposed to. After a little research I realised the sector was likely to be the ideal place to launch products.

Alexander Joseph luxury lighting in an interior bathroom setting

Describe an average day in your job role..

My natural inclination to be organised helps to moderate the ever-changing pressures associated with working on dozens of projects at the same time. In addition to curating and developing our permanent range, I also attend daily design meetings for commission pieces we are making for clients. Each project must be taken from a sketch to a CAD model to CGI, before it is made by hand in our workshops. Marketing, customer, planning and staff meetings take up the rest of the day. I generally leave administrative and financial matters until everyone else has left for the evening, I find it easier to concentrate then.

Is there anything new you are excited to be working on?

We are currently working on the launch of our first ever floor lamp and we have some marvellous collaborations to announce…

What do you find the most challenging aspects of your job?

Everything we do must deliver the highest quality. So, keeping abreast of live projects and progress is time consuming and a constant challenge. Motivating myself to keep on top of admin would be a close second.

Alexander Joseph luxury lighting in an interior living room setting
Alexander Joseph luxury lighting in an interior bedroom setting

What do you wish you knew before working in the field?

Pretty much everything I’ve learned over the last 12 months!

Which elements of your profession do you enjoy the most and/or find the most rewarding?

The most rewarding component of my job is creating finished pieces from scratch, I love problem solving so the more complex or challenging the design the more I tend to enjoy it.

What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?

I think it would be; decide what you want to do, then do it. Don’t procrastinate, it saps self confidence and tends to be an expensive lesson in futility. Spending time to-ing and fro-ing over decisions costs money – at the end of the day you are paying your rent, wages and other overheads whilst you introspectively analyse what you are doing.

Alexander Joseph

What has been your favourite project to work on?

Producing a lamp for a charity auction. It was a 1 metre tall table lamp in the charity’s colours, finished in sterling silver. It took over 100 hours to complete.

What do you think is the biggest problem the interior design industry faces?

Engagement with other sectors and industries. As a creating sector it is clearly design led, but this can be at the expense of all else. Other sectors tend to spend more time looking at how they can borrow or adapt techniques in other markets, before it is critical to do so. This enables them to ‘design in’ what they are adapting. Rather than incur the cost associated with adopting something at project delivery stage.

Which people do you admire the most in the industry and why?

I think this would have to be anyone who has spent more than 20 years as an interior designer. Being able to remain passionate and inspired over such a long time period is truly admirable.

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