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SBID Accredited Partner, Mark Taylor, managing director of Mark Taylor Design reveals his journey in the design profession, and shares the advice he would give his younger self before he began his career as a designer.

What is your current job?

I’m the Managing Director of Mark Taylor Design, a British furniture design business, responsible for designing, manufacturing and fitting kitchens, bathrooms, studies, bedrooms, staircases and more.

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

The company was set up 20 years ago, because I was trained in both furniture production and management and was a keen designer.  I also completed an MBA and wanted to apply all these skills to build a business doing something I loved in this industry.

Describe an average day in your job role..

I will get in by 8.30am most days, contact clients throughout the day to ensure everybody is happy.  I have a meeting most days with my teams on various projects.  I might be designing or sketching, liaising with suppliers, costing projects, sourcing materials, working with my interior design team and, depending on the day, there’s usually a site visit or two.

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

Winning really exciting projects at one end, and seeing great work installed and happy clients at the other.  I get a real sense of achievement out of a problem cleverly solved.

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

We are about to work on a swimming pool and gym construction which is exciting, as it’s a ‘start from scratch’ project, in a beautiful setting, with a client I’ve worked with a great deal in the past.  This is the next phase of turning his home into his perfect home, which is always very satisfying.

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

Finding enough hours!

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

Don’t be afraid to be bold in your designs. Use interesting materials and play with shape and colour.  As I’ve become more experienced, I’ve learnt that the braver designs are the ones that the client remembers and enjoys most – they have a talking point and so do we! When I was starting out, I always worried that my simple designs wouldn’t be noticed. I’ve learnt that the opposite is true; simpler is often bolder and more stunning than complicated. Finally, having conviction in your ideas.

What has been your favourite project to work on?

Working alongside Interior Design, Charlotte Jackson of Nice Brew Design, we fitted out a very large basement extension, with a bar, bowling alley, wine cellar and entertaining space. It was a great project because the space was large but dark. The lighting and ambience of every element of this space was so crucial to it feeling comfortable and exciting. We worked with different textures, materials and even screens to bring the space to life.

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

I’m not sure. It feels healthy to us at the moment. The world is quite fragile though with Covid-19, and I guess it might be about whether people have the funds to afford interior design. Hopefully, the economic recovery will be relatively swift and people will continue to see the value of investing in their  homes.

Who do you admire the most in the industry and why?

Small artisan craftsmen are still my greatest source of admiration because of the enormous love they have for what they produce, and for the techniques and skills that are so precious to us.  Those who are teaching younger manufacturers and designers these traditional skills, and who are adapting them to today’s market are fantastic examples of how our industry will stay relevant and desirable.

Want to become SBID Accredited? Click here for more information.

To commemorate 100 years of Bentley motor cars, SBID Accredited Industry Partner, Alexander Joseph in collaboration with DMark Concepts produced a one of a kind cordless lamp, named Mulliner. The design of this exclusive premium lamp not only pays homage to the luxurious specification of Bentley’s prestigious interiors and their brand-new convertible model, but does so sustainably.

Made completely by hand in their UK workshops, the Nickel lamp body has been cushioned, replicating the decadent seating synonymous with the Mulliner specification. In collaboration with Bentley, the lampshade has been crafted in Vegan leather, then hand stitched in the iconic quilted diamond shape. The piece took 5 months to complete and represents approximately 600 hours of meticulous labour! The lamp also benefits from cutting edge, patent-pending battery technology and software, which delivers 3-4 weeks of use on a single charge. After the briefest of visits to the Geneva Motor Show, Mulliner will be offered for sale privately via a small number of Interior Designers with an appropriate client profile.

Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible interior
Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible interior
Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible vegan leather details
Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible details

Sharing his insight to the key factors driving industry change and how makers should respond, we interviewed Mark Robinson, Managing Director of Alexander Joseph to find out more about what went in to produce this Bentley-inspired, vegan lamp!

What social trends are driving change and how do your designs respond to them?

Consumer desire for ethically made and sustainable products forces makers to think hard about their products, often this means using new techniques or materials where traditional methods are now considered morally redundant. This in turn can affect the way a designer must think about a piece to ensure whatever the item happens to be can be made cost effectively.

Manufacturers ignore customer demands for ethical and sustainable products at their peril. It’s no longer good enough to “carry on as normal”, customers have started to vote with their feet, or wallets! Brands should see this as an opportunity to inspire new design and perhaps techniques, rather than a begrudging obligation.

A great example of a brand adapting to what the market wants is one of our most iconic British brands, Bentley. The company recently introduced a range of vegan leathers for their vehicles.

Mulliner Lamp by Alexander Joseph Manufacturing Process (2)
Mulliner Lamp by Alexander Joseph Manufacturing Process (1)

Can you talk us through the manufacturing process. How did you take the initial design concept to achieve the final end product?

Alexander Joseph partnered with DMark Concepts to make this piece. The two businesses have worked together on other projects and discussed how to produce something unique. DMark who are also based in Dorset are best known for handmaking body parts for vintage cars you simply can’t buy.

The concept for the Mulliner lamp came following a meeting between the two companies for an unrelated piece destined for a luxury yacht. During a conversation about Bentley, Mark Robinson mentioned their drive to become more environmentally aware, this in turn led to a conversation about new Bentley models including the upcoming Mulliner. Within 10 minutes the group at the meeting had sketched out the initial concept.

In rudimentary terms, the piece can be broken down into three parts. The body, the shade and the technology. We decided to make the body from copper, primarily because it is an easier material to roll than most. It also lends itself to being highly polished as well as being the perfect plating surface.

A single sheet of copper was hand rolled, then using a laser light, the sheet was painstakingly worked over a wheel to create the pillowing synonymous with Bentley Mulliner models. This section of the lamp took almost 300 hours to create.

The technology for this piece also had to be reworked onto a new platform as the internal space wouldn’t allow for our existing electronics layout. This in turn meant we had to redesign the charging system for the lamp!

Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible
Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible
Luxury Mulliner Cordless Lamp by Alexander Joseph

How was the choice of materials important? Why did you choose to use Vegan leather?

Our initial idea was to make our first carbon neutral product, just to see if it could be done. Using Vegan leather for the lampshade was an obvious and easy choice. We approached Bentley about the project, and they were able to give us all the information we needed to see the piece to conclusion.

The black vegan leather we eventually selected was then sent to a car upholstery specialist who formerly worked for another car brand, Aston Martin. He was able to hand stitch the material, replicating the Mulliner specification in Bentley cars.

Your products are manufactured by hand in the UK. How do you see ‘Made in Britain’ trend evolving after Brexit?

We don’t fear what Brexit means to ‘Made in Britain’. In fact, we see it as another opportunity. As a country we may struggle to compete with other regions for lower priced high-volume products, but nobody does quality engineered and hand-made products better than Britain. We see no reason why this wouldn’t continue. If anything, it could be argued that an overt independence only enhances the cache of Made in Britain.

How do you go about sourcing your materials locally? Why do you do this?

We ensure every component used in our lamps come from UK suppliers. When we launched our business one of our proud claims was that our lamps were 100% British – and this is still the case today. We audit all our suppliers to ensure everything they supply to us has been sourced and made in the UK. Wherever possible we buy from local suppliers with around 80% of our raw material coming from firms within a 20-mile radius of our workshops.

Sourcing specialist components and materials from UK suppliers is challenging, the research is time consuming, as is the administration of controlling the supply chain, but we think it is worth it.

All our pieces have a serial number. We record every component that goes into a customer lamp, so in the future if the piece is damaged, we can replace a part without the cost of replacing the whole lamp. As a result, we also know what date we received every component and which batch it came from. We even record ancillary information such as the depth of plating, or the colour density of glass.

Questions answered by Mark Robinson, Managing Director of Alexander Joseph

If you’d like to become SBID Accredited, click here to find out more. 

SBID Accredited Industry Partner, RAK Ceramics will be exhibiting its exclusive designer collections, RAK-Cloud and RAK-Variant at the upcoming KBB Exhibition in Birmingham from 1 to 4 March. With the prestigious product designers set to attend, we wanted to find out more about the collections and what inspired them. Read our interview with Giuseppe Maurizio Scutellà, Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri to discover what makes their designs so unique.

RAK Ceramics new designer collection, RAK-Cloud in bathroom interior
RAK-Cloud by Giuseppe Maurizio Scutellà
RAK Ceramics new designer collection, RAK-Variant in bedroom suite interior
RAK-Variant by Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri
Giuseppe Maurizio Scutellà

Giuseppe Maurizio Scutellà

Giuseppe Maurizio Scutellà was born in Alcamo, Sicily. His collaboration with RAK Ceramics begins with RAK-Cloud, a project that continues the creative thinking of the Italian designer and that integrates perfectly with his other projects such as the collection of lamps “Pirce” by Artemide (Good_Design 2008, Red Dot Award 2009, IF Design Award 2010) and the “Metropolis” collection of crystal and ceramic tables by Tonelli Design.

What inspired the collections?
RAK-Cloud, born from my love for sculpture, soft and organic and sensual lines, and marries with a speech that I have been carrying on for some time, in fact I designed a tap for Gessi, which is called Equilibrio and is inspired by the stones and nature. Identical process for my perhaps most famous project, in the world of light, with the Pirce suspension lamp, made for Artemide. While RAK-Petit is a specific request addressed to the architectural world, the need to combine washbasins in confined spaces, which do not renounce glamour, and the elegance of solutions that can be developed in larger spaces.

RAK Ceramics new designer collection, RAK-Cloud in hotel bathroom suite

What was the design process?
All my projects are born on paper. I like to explore different solutions quickly and instinctively. On paper I already imagine the finished volumes, identify the solutions that convince me most, 3D model the whole collection in order to have a coherent overall picture. I submit it for technical verification, from which I receive the feedback that I transfer to the collection. Then we proceed to 1:1 scale prototypes and if everything works, it goes to final production.

What is unique with these designs?
There is a word in English, which does not have an exact equivalent in Italian, and it is understatement, which for me means creating a proposal, made of elegant but not screamed details, to give rise to unobtrusive, timeless proposals. A careful search for volumes and proportions, combined with cuts in the surfaces to create dynamism and at the same time sensuality, in an environment such as the bathroom increasingly inserted in a modern and contemporary living context, completes the number of projects.

Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri image

Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri

Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri founded their own design studio in 2010 and work within various fields of design, ranging from objects to spaces. Multiple experiments and the relationship between manufacture and craftsmanship form the basis for a much broader thinking, where objects are always considered as part of a bigger picture. They have created work for Antoniolupi, Lema, Ligne Roset, Normann Copenha-gen, Offecct, Rosenthal, Stelton, Villeroy & Boch among others. In addition to their work as designers, they regularly teach, hold workshops and lectures at various institutions including IUAV Venezia and Politecnico di Milano. Together with Rak Ceramics, Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri present the project RAK-Variant (2019).

What inspired the collections?

RAK-Variant, like many of our projects, was born on the basis of a specific material. In this case, ceramics, a material, whose production must combine two supposedly distant worlds: the serial production, precise and standardized; but also a need for manual sensitivity, which cannot be ignored.

RAK Ceramics new designer collection, RAK-Variant with sink
RAK Ceramics new designer collection, RAK-Variant with sink

What was the design process?

Designing is never a linear path and very often, in one single project we have to process, bring order and translate all the different thoughts that flow together into actual products.  In the specific case of RAK-Variant, we set ourselves the goal of achieving a formal synthesis that would allow the collection’s various elements to be easily integrated into different types of interior. In order to achieve this, we played around with the balance between the expressiveness of a product and its attribute of being consciously silent.

At the same time, we focused on some details that convey the quality while enhancing the intrinsic beauty of the ceramic material itself. The result is a collection of 25 basins in different shapes and dimensional variations that offer multiple installation possibilities.

What’s unique with these designs?

The top views of the washbasins, with a geometric and controlled matrix, interact with the very thin edges evoking, in this way, the delicacy of the material while creating a new timeless three-dimensionality, well suited to any interior context.

If you’d like to become SBID Accredited, click here to find out more.

The Society of British and International Interior Design’s inaugural SBID Product Design Awards has been honoured with the Awards Trust Mark at the Gold level, its highest degree of accreditation. This achievement is especially meaningful as only a handful of UK programmes such as The Diana Award for young humanitarians, the Investors in People awards, and SBID’s International Design Awards have been granted this recognition for their ethics and transparency.

The newly launched SBID Product Design Awards celebrate the finest design, innovation and functionality for products within the residential and commercial interior design sectors. Open until 13 March for entries from around the globe, the competition invites product, industrial and interior designers, as well as manufacturers and suppliers, to propose original products realised in the last two years across 17 categories.

The Awards Trust Mark certification was established by the Independent Awards Standards Council, a not-for-profit organisation made up of stakeholders in the awards industry. Created with the aim of raising standards and perceptions of trust in awards competitions, the accreditation encourages a focus on ethics with all aspects scrutinized including criteria, scoring, feedback, transparency and judging.

“The SBID Product Design Awards is an examplary demonstration of how awards should be operated…”

Chris Robinson, co-founder of the Independent Awards Standards Council, explains why the SBID Product Design Awards is a deserved holder of the Gold Standard level: “The SBID Product Design Awards is an exemplary demonstration of how awards should be operated with attention to every detail, from the transparency of the scoring system, to the quality of websites, the clarity of the entering process, and to the quality of customer service.”

Winners are chosen via a three-part process. A technical judging panel evaluates entries’ professional merit and determines the finalists to be announced 9 April. From this selection, an extraordinary jury of the foremost industry experts will decide 70% of the winners’ scores, with the remaining 30% the result of an online public vote that will be live until 30 April.

Recently appointed as vice-president of SBID, Chris Godfrey knows more than a thing or two about design excellence. The award-winning British architect and designer added another feather to his cap when he was named SBID’s 2019 Master of Design, an honour bestowed on a practitioner who has contributed greatly to the interior design industry. “SBID’s Product Design Awards support the visionary ideas, quality craftsmanship and integrity of materials that characterise the best in product design,” says Godfrey. “It’s appropriate that we should celebrate innovative products as essential parts of an interior designer’s toolkit for creating holistically-considered spaces.”

With winners announced at the glamorous Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London during an awards ceremony on Friday, 5 June 2020, entrants into the very first SBID Product Design Awards can be confident in knowing that the ethics of the judging process is as valued as the originality of their creations.

Click here for more information.

The Society of British and International Interior Design (SBID) announces the launch of its Product Design Awards celebrating the finest design, innovation and functionality for products within the residential and commercial interior design sectors.

Now open for entries from around the globe, the competition invites product, industrial and interior designers, as well as manufacturers and suppliers, to propose original products realised in the last two years across 17 categories: Accessories; Bathroom Product; Brassware; Cabinetry & Joinery; Fabric & Textiles; Furniture – Contract; Furniture – Residential; Heating & Cooling; Ironmongery & Metalwork; Kitchen Product; Leisure & Wellbeing; Lighting; Outdoor; Sanitaryware; Sound & Vision; and Surfaces & Finishes.

Entries close on Friday, 13 March 2020, with winners chosen via a three-part process. A technical judging panel evaluates entries’ professional merit and determines the finalists to be announced 9 April. From this selection, a jury representing a broad range of design skills and connections will decide 70% of the winners’ scores, with the remaining 30% the result of an online public vote that will be live until 30 April.

Truly extraordinary industry experts will lend their insights and experience to the SBID Product Awards’ judging panel, including Karim Rashid, president, Karim Rashid Inc; Vasiliki Petrou, group ceo and executive vice president, Unilever Prestige; Dr. Jeff Ning, president, Wanda Hotels and Resorts; Can Tufekcioglu, principal interior designer, Arcadis; Trevor Cotterell, managing director, Areen; Kar‑Hwa Ho​, head of interior architecture, Zaha Hadid Architects; Gary Clark, principal, regional leader of science and technology, HOK London Studio; Henry Reeve, director of interior design, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG); Heinz Richardson, principal, Jestico + Whiles Architects and Designers; Letitia Fitzgibbon, head of interior design, Harrods Interior Design; Herbert Lui, partner, Dexter Moren Associates; and Dr. Vanja Garaj, head of design, Department of Design, Brunel University London.

In the glamorous setting of Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London, the awards ceremony on Friday, 5 June 2020 will be an exceptional opportunity to celebrate the very best in global product design while mingling with top-tier industry leaders from across the world.

To find out more about the SBID Product Design Awards, visit www.sbidproductdesignawards.com

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.

Want to share your story on the SBID blog? Email [email protected] to find out more.

SBID Members and pioneering British design brand Bisque has announced Radical 40, an exclusive competition to find the ‘next big thing’ in stylish radiators and celebrate its landmark 40th anniversary.

Bisque Radiators Radical 40 design competition artwork for web

The company, having transformed the humble radiator from being regarded as merely a technical plumbing item into a desirable design-led product in its own right, is on the hunt for the next generation of stylish radiators. From statement-making pieces to sleek, space-saving towel radiators and compact school-style models, Bisque design luxury radiators to complement and enhance any interior, be it traditional, contemporary or somewhere in-between.

Budding designers and Bisque fans alike will be invited to join the movement and make their mark on the design industry by creating the brand’s newest model.

The competition deadline for entries is in October, where all entrants will be judged by a panel of industry experts, including journalists, designers and Bisque officials. The winning model is then set to be unveiled during an exclusive preview in November. The winning design will be awarded a cash prize; plus, provided the design works technically, will go into production!

Bisque Archibald towel rail luxury radiators in chrome feature for Bisque Radical 40 design competition

Bisque Radiators featuring the Archibald

Eagle-eyed Bisque fans may recall the last time Bisque invited the public to design a new model to join its repertoire of unique luxury radiators. The prize model, the Archibald – designed by Italian Leo Salzedo – went on to win the 2006 designboom competition and is still one of the brand’s most iconic and instantly recognisable radiators today.

Named one of The Observer’s CoolBrands three years in a row, Bisque paved the way for a radiator revolution. Notable models include the Leaf and Cactus radiators, while partnerships with the likes of Paul Priestman have kept Bisque at the forefront of cutting-edge radiator design ever since.

Speaking of the competition, brand leader Ellie Sawdy commented: “We are thrilled to be launching this competition to commemorate four decades of innovative radiators. Here at Bisque we have always maintained that radiators don’t need to be boring, and this philosophy remains a core part of our brand’s ethos. We are equally excited by the fresh, young design talent the UK has to offer, so are incredibly excited to see what the British public comes up with”.

For further information on entering, click here or search #Radical40 on social media to find out more.

This week SBID interviewed Michael Seum, VP Design at GROHE to discover more about his journey through the interior design industry; from a vision for architecture to finding his calling in product design. Michael gives us the inside scoop on his role as VP Design, the importance of motivation, and even shares his secret for inspiring and maintaining creativity!

Can you describe your current job?

As VP Design for GROHE, my job is to connect creativity with commercial for the company and be the creative horsepower and the biggest advocate of Grohe’s excellent design team. It’s my job to lead a team that focuses not just on consumer needs, but consumers’ desires and we put a lot of passion and emotion in our work.

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

My background is in industrial design and I started my career with the intention of going into architecture. As a child I was always very curious and a creative nature which I was fortunate enough to have fostered by my parents. However, I have always felt an affinity for space and experience and it was actually this that brought me to product design. I have always been interested in the relation of people to an object or an experience, just like an interior designer does; in this role, I am bringing products that work within the interior space wherever there is a water experience.

GROHE feature with Michael Seum VP Design for interior design blog, Behind the Scenes feature

Describe an average day in your job role..

Whilst there is no such thing as a truly ‘average’ day in my role, an ideal day would begin with breakfast with my children at home at 7am. I then head to the office at 8.30am where I have a cup of coffee. I’ll check my to do list and walk through the office to see my team. From 10am I jump straight into project work and meetings to make sure projects are moving. This takes most of the morning. I always eat lunch at my desk, around 1pm, for efficiency and in the early afternoon I will spend time catching up on the latest world design news and developments. The rest of the day will revolve around further project work and meetings until I leave the office at 6pm. I go to the gym religiously and believe a healthy mind is good for creativity. I then go home and recharge for the next day.

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

Working with a talented team that actually operates as a team and a collective community is incredibly rewarding, especially as it shows in our work.

What are the latest plans for Grohe? Is there anything new you are working on?

We are focused on reframing the relationship we have with water. Whether you are consuming water or using it for hygiene, it’s always going to re-energise us. Without revealing too much, we’re focusing on really meaningful innovations that reframe our relationship to the precious resource of water. You will see this in the coming months, especially as we get closer to the ISH show in Frankfurt.

GROHE feature for interior design blog, Behind the Scenes feature

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

For me, the challenge is the same as the reward; keeping the team motivated. It’s not easy to get a product from a price of paper to a world-wide marketed product and sometimes that can mean working behind the scenes to break down barriers to keep the focus on the long-term design plan. I find keeping a positive mindset helps with this.

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

I came into the field knowing it would be different every day. But I guess it would have been nice to have known just how diverse it could be. I never expected that I would have the opportunity to work all over the world!

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

That extra hour at lunch is not a bad idea!

What has been your favourite project to work on?

GROHE product feature for interior design blog

The next project, always! For me, the whole reason for being a designer was to take on the challenge of the next project. I love not knowing what could be next, and then drawing inspiration from my experiences so far to make improvements on the next project.

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

Instagram! There is so much digital influence on a daily basis now that consumers are seeing similar styles echoed. I find that if I want to seek new inspiration then I need to look outside of Instagram. It also surprises me how so many inspiring interior design shots are void of people when, ultimately, these spaces are designed for people.

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

The people I admire most in the industry are very humble; they are the people working behind the scenes, avoiding the limelight but still producing amazing work.

What are you most looking forward to at Sleep + Eat 2018?

I like that Sleep + Eat focuses on a big design topic – the hospitality industry. This interior design sector encompasses a lot of design considerations and, whilst GROHE has a lot of expertise in the sector, I go to the show to learn.

If you were inspired by Michael’s story and want to learn more about interior design, click here.

With the launch of the SBID national Student Design Competition for third year students and recent graduates this summer, the competition is now in full swing as we enter into the final month before the entries officially close on Friday 31st August!

This brand new student competition is aimed to identify, recognise and promote creative talent of young students, their university tutor and achievement learned. Students from across Fashion, Interior Design, Product Design and Art are invited to submit their end of year project for a chance to win a £30,000 cash prize.

In keeping with the aim of global design excellence for the next generation, we gathered the world’s best experts across five competitive creative sectors to be judges. We spoke with one of our many distinguished judges; Leading International Designer, Sebastian Conran; to get his view on this exciting (not to mention life-changing) opportunity for young designers across the UK, as well as share his insight and advice for students looking to enter!

 

Student Design Competition Designed for Business artwork

How do you feel about being a judge for this new student design competition?

I have been judging student competitions since 1988  starting with the RSA [ironically I never won it when I was a student]. My main observation is that many great ideas are lost through poor or over-detailed presentation. First state the unmet need, then issues, then big idea, then why it will benefit users – any more detail can follow later.

As a judge for a competition like this, what will you be looking for from a winning entry?

Realism combined with imagination, innovation and entrepreneurial flair.

What advice would you give a young designer starting out in the industry?

Never try and start your own business unless you have worked for a business similar to the one you want to start – learning by your own mistakes can be painful!

If you had won £30,000 after just graduating from University, what would you have done with it?

Go on a world trip to Japan, California, New York, Scandinavia and see what it is like to work there for a bit – maybe as 3 month internships – learn and save as much as I can for when I am ready to start my own business!

If you feel inspired to submit your work for the chance to win £30,000, click here to find out more or enter now!

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