Designer Talks Podcast

Designer Talks podcast Ep. 7 - Nic Banks FCSD

May 12, 2022 The New Art School Season 2 Episode 7
Designer Talks Podcast
Designer Talks podcast Ep. 7 - Nic Banks FCSD
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Show Notes Transcript

Nic Banks is the Founding Director of Atelier Pacific. Initially trained as an Engineer, he has over 30 years of experience working on a wide range of design projects. Prior to setting up Atelier Pacific, Nic worked in Milan with the renowned Italian architect Michele DeLucchi then from 1992 with Lord Norman Foster’s architectural and design practice in Hong Kong, where he led one of the design teams responsible for the passenger terminal building at Hong Kong's new airport. During his career, Nic has worked on a number of prestigious projects and has liaised with Clients as diverse as Cheung Kong, Deutsche Bank, Forever 21, the Hong Kong Airport Authority, Louis Vuitton, the Taiwan High-speed Rail Authority and Victoria’s Secret. Under the name of his own practice, Atelier Pacific, Nic has undertaken a number of fit–out and new–build projects for both commercial and private clients, as well as contributed to many important design, architectural, and master-planning public-realm projects in Asia. Nic is a full member of various professional organisations in London and Hong Kong; has taught and presented papers at numerous educational establishments and conferences; and had his work widely published and exhibited.

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Lefteris Heretakis:

Hello and welcome to designer talks podcast by the Chartered Society of designers. Our guest today is Nic Banks. Welcome, Nic!

Nic Banks:

Thank you Lefteris. Nice to meet you.

Lefteris Heretakis:

It's great to have you here! So tell us about you.

Nic Banks:

Okay, well, I'm British, and recently taken on Italian citizenship as well. I've lived overseas for many years, basically since age 10. I moved overseas with my family, my parents to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan back to Saudi Arabia, during which time I was also at Quaker boarding school in the UK. I then came back to do full time education in the UK at Sheffield University, my first degree and then my second degree at Leicester and then started off in the world of design and architecture, working with Lee's associates in London, and then went on to join Terry Trickett, Trickett associates who were quite big back in the 80s. And then decided to move on to a way from London, to Milan in Italy, where I felt felt it was all happening back then in 1988, into a long time ago, where I worked with a designer who I had seen on the cover of blueprint magazine, and I thought he's the guy that I really want to work with. His name is Antonio Antonio Citterio, who's still going strong and do some amazing work and worked with him for a while and then went on to work with another prominent architect called Michelet. Looky, who is one of the founders along with enterocytes SAS of the Memphis groups are quite a different style stylistically from Cheerios work. And then moved on again to back closer to shoot to Cheerios started work working with Norman Foster, in Hong Kong, where I was asked to join the team to work on the new what was then the new Hong Kong airports. So this is back in the early 90s. I worked with Norman Foster for a few years, the airport was designed and built. And I stayed on in Hong Kong, as has often happened with Norman Foster studio when he's done projects in Hong Kong many people stay on because they like it over there. And I was one of them. I stayed on and opened my own studio called Italia Pacific, which has recently celebrated 25 years. So that's where we are now.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Wow, that's a great introduction. So we need to go more a bit more in depth into all this fantastic out that you've just given us. So tell us, when did you realise you want to become a designer?

Unknown:

Well, the honest answer is quite late. Because I mentioned I did two degrees. So my first degree was Sheffield University where I did Civil and Structural Engineering. And I'll be honest, my father was or is an engineer, and I kind of like many 18 year olds, I wasn't too sure what I wanted to do. And I kind of fell into engineering because that's what that was, and not that he pushed me but that's what I thought I should do. So it was during that time studying engineering, and I actually worked as an engineer and that my first summer, between year one year two, Bradford municipal council in the north of England in the drainage departments, which was not the most exciting, inspirational engineering place to be. And that really made me think Hang on a second, I want to be doing something a bit more creative. And so I looked at becoming an architect or a designer of some kind. But actually, having said that, before all of that as a child, I think I've always been, I realise now with hindsight use when these things you realise as you get older, I've always been a maker, in the sense that I always made Airfix models then there's probably some some of the listeners and viewers probably won't even know Airfix models. Obviously, it's an aeroplanes and tanks and all these little plastic models that used to make as a young boy back in the 660s and 70s. And then it went on to made lots of model railways as well. And I love creating towns and landscapes. So basically, if you'd like to seed was always there, perhaps, but it was only later on go through education that actually I realised that in fact, yes, this is something I wanted to do. So after my engineering degree, I finished the engineering degree because I wanted to become an architect, but they would only they would only let me become an architect by going back and restarting all over again. And I said no way. So I decided instead, I found a way to do a master's degree in What was called Environmental Design at the time, but was essentially 3d design in the old in the old sense of the word 3d design. So that's that's how I became a designer.

Lefteris Heretakis:

That's the example. So how did your first degree what was the contribution later on? Where did it come useful?

Unknown:

Yes, I would say very much so very much. So. I mean, the interesting thing was to kind of explain a little bit what happened when I was when I was at school, I never really had that much any any specific creative background of the technical drawing, I did Otto level. But then I didn't do art at a level. And nor did I do any creative work a level either. And I remember the careers officer said, well, actually, you can't do anything architectural design wise, you because you haven't got these artistic backgrounds, which, with hindsight, was a bit of was a bit of bad advice was nonsense. So he kind of pushed me more to something a bit less, less creative. So I went into the engineering, as I say, a bit a little bit out of, out of lack of anything else to do. I mean, it was a good degree of a good degree, don't get me wrong, but I'm having a young, I've got three children, having a, my son has also been through the same experience that I've been through. And of course, when you're 18, as a young man, you're not always clear what you want to do you if you know what you want to do, you're very lucky, but I think most of us don't. So I went into engineering. And as I said, I finished that before I went into my master's in design. But certainly to answer your question, that first degree was always a benefit, because actually, not only did it give me a sense for logical thinking, and how to put things together, but also, to be honest, it made me slightly unusual on my CV. And that was always a good thing. And that's become arguably become even more important for young people today to have that distinction. Because everyone, it seems like everyone I am speaking from points of view as an employer. Now, unfortunately, it's very hard to choose between the CVS because everyone's got a great degree. And everyone's got a great master's degree. So actually, the fact that I had this slightly weird mix of Civil and Structural engineering as a first degree, and then what was essentially a master's in interior design as a second degree, it made people sort of say, oh, what's what who's this guy? What's his, you know, how does this work together? So, so that was, yeah, it was that the to suddenly help. But I'll be honest, it wasn't planned. It wasn't planned.

Lefteris Heretakis:

So what would you say? Are the parallels between engineering and design?

Unknown:

Well, definitely the need to Well, okay. The, there obviously, there are differences as well. But there were, I think one of the key parallels is to think logically and think through the process and try and understand how something is going to come together. I mean, to to answer your question, a slightly negative way. The when design or architecture has given us a bad press, so to speak, is when the designer or the architects involved has not necessarily managed to manage the project particularly well. So and that's often because they haven't thought through the process then understood the timing, or they may even maybe haven't even understood the budgets or whatever is involved. At the end of the day, design is an applied artistic discipline. And the application means that actually, it's, it's something that is has a commercial element to it. So that's so the engineering side definitely has the parallel there have been able to think logically and work your way through a process has been key. Absolutely key.

Lefteris Heretakis:

So what else are you passionate about other than design?

Unknown:

Music, music, but I'm not unfortunately, we're not unfortunately, I'm not one of these guys, middle aged guys who plays the plays to get on, you know, want to be rock star or DJ. But I do love my music. I mean, it's since since the arrival of Spotify, Spotify, for me, has been one of the greatest apps that appeared on the scene in the past where it's been five plus years now. Even more so than anything that came before it. I think it's probably I can I can get lost on Spotify for hours looking through different types of music and I love it. I love I love all types of music. As I say I have a very broad range of tastes.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Did you ever study music at all? No. I

Unknown:

played the piano and as a as a kid, and unfortunately, gave it up when I started to hit my mid teens because I realised that she there was more fun to be had outside of the piano practice room. Which I think a lot of people do, whether it's whether it's a piano or violin or many musical instruments get get get left by the wayside when the mid teens when you realise the practice is not something that you're you're willing to put in,

Lefteris Heretakis:

or the personality. I mean, I was a violinist for a very long time. Right? But it just when you when you of course, realise that it takes you know, you put in six hours a day, but you just it just, if that's not your cup of tea, you just have to be sociable.

Unknown:

It's very hard when you're when you're a young person, and everyone else seems to be out there having fun. You know, the idea the concept of the 10,000 hours, yes, to become the perfect violinists or pianists or tennis player, whatever it may be.

Lefteris Heretakis:

It's 10,000 hours every day. Exactly. That's a difference. What would you do differently if you were to start again?

Unknown:

Do you know? Yeah, when you send me that question, I've been looking at them again before, before we spoke. And that's a really tough one because i chi. I don't have any regrets at all in

Lefteris Heretakis:

that regard. Of course, no, no,

Unknown:

no, no, but I'm not I'm not sure what I would have changed because I, you know, I'm, thankfully, I've been very lucky with the way things have worked out. And I'm a great I am also a great believer, I think of myself as quite a positive person. And I think actually, every every decision and every situation is always for reason and then leads on to interesting things so that for me, I'm not I wouldn't change anything. I mean, if I were to do a completely different job, a completely different discipline, then perhaps this is something that's come to mind in recent years, perhaps I would have studied law, which may seem completely different to what I've done, but actually just to explain that the reason is that I see some similarity because actually, I do have an interest in improving things or helping people and ultimately that's what I believe design does, it does actually improve the environment or improve the situation as it provides solutions to two problems. Again, it's an applied is applied art. So in that regard law has some similarities that says it's about providing a solution and fixing a problem of course lawyers don't always have the best reputation that doing that sometimes their sensory whatever, that's a whole other discussion, but you know, I think that would be something that would be would be of interest. Now I'll be honest as I get towards the end of my career, because I'm just still I've got a big big birthday coming up with a zero on the end of it quite soon I'll let the listeners work out or the viewers abouts work out what that zero that may be in front of the number in front of it. But as I come up towards looking towards the last part of my career, I think well okay, so what what else would interest me and the most bizarre thing again, complete perhaps even more random the law is I quite fancy being I'd be a lumberjack. I love I love trees. Not that not a lumberjack to to chop down trees, but a lumberjack or a tree surgeon to work with trees because I think trees have become, in my mind. So important that they have become they've always obviously always been there but I think over the years, I've started to value how important they are to to to our environments. I mean they there's nothing there's nothing like admiring a beautiful tree against the blue sky or, or even a wind even at wintertime. You know, the the outline of a winter tree in England at the moment for example is can be stunning can be absolutely stunning. And I'd reply to your question,

Lefteris Heretakis:

what has been your most rewarding design experience?

Unknown:

That almost without doubt there's been my work with Norman Foster on Hong Kong Airport. I think it was it harks back to my days as a young boy building model railways and building landscapes and an Airfix models. But it was Such a huge project. So just to explain a little bit about for listeners to back in 1992, Norman Foster won what was an open competition to design a new terminal building for Hong Kong Airport for Hong Kong Airport. And that was part of a whole massive move of the airport out of town because Hong Kong was very famous for having the planes coming in with a runway was right in the centre of town, or instead of the city. So they was there was a massive, massive infrastructure project where basically some islands were reclaimed from the sea. And this this two runways were built in the terminal building was built was a high speed rail link out to the from the central town out to the airports, which I was also involved in was the MTR there's mass transit railway. And it was as a whole, it was definitely a fantastic project to be on. I mean, it's, it's it was there's a lot of blood, sweat and tears on there, I have a lot of friends who I've worked with, who I did work with, and we're still good friends. And we, and they were very, it was a very special time. It was one of those projects, I've worked on many projects in my life. And it was one of those that was was almost quite defining for me. And it's still one that I'm incredibly proud. I was one of the team leaders for the for the whole project. So it's, there was great, a great project to work on.

Lefteris Heretakis:

How does design affect your everyday life?

Unknown:

To be honest, it slows me down. And I'll tell you why. I'll explain the answer to why it slows me down is because I'm one of those people who I look at stuff. I want to understand how something happens. And it drives my wife and off my kids crazy. Because often I will stop to look at something say Well, hang on. Why is that? How did that happen? How is that like that? And it is just part and parcel for me of of being a designer is like, you know, you're looking underneath tables, and they learn it. Yeah. How's that fixed? Oh, wow. Yeah. How did they do that? We there's a great story, I always remember from very early on, which I thought kind of captures a little bit of this. A lady, gosh, whose name I forgot, no, gosh, no big big hotel family in the UK. Back in the early 80s. And she she was the lady in charge. Remember the family in charge of building new hotels. And I always remember that one of the things she did, because actually we did a project with them. And that when I was working in London, was that she would go into the bathroom, as the project was being finished go into the bathroom, and she would lie in the bath and see what you could she could see from the bath because actually, as designers, you often didn't think about that. So but of course, of course the customer the client in a hotel will often be lying in the bath and might see something they don't like to see. So they might see the underside of the of the sink cabinet or they might see something else. It's not so nice. So it's it's kind of that attitude that I've that I've got a little bit that it slows me down because I want to I if there's something I don't fully understand, I want to understand it and look at it and study it. And so yeah, that's that's how I fix my day to day life.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Who has been your biggest influence in life?

Unknown:

Well, she's not here at the moment, but she'll be listening to this later. So she'll be very pleased to hear but I'd say my wife. My wife and my parents have both been definitely a huge influence. My wife is Italian and she's I met her when working with us and she has gone on to be a huge influence in my life. But perhaps more traditionally, a more traditional answer that's you might might be helpful to people are probably the two architects that I worked with. In Milan when I was a young man when I first went to Milan so as I mentioned earlier, I worked with Antonio Citterio, who is an absolute stickler for detail. He was I remember one of the first jobs I did we were designing a huge shopping mall for him for the for the for his studio. And this was pre the days of AutoCAD or any CAD design. So I had to draw the facade of this shopping mall and it was a brick facade that I was working on. And I had to draw every brick every single brick in the right location because he wanted to see how the whole thing worked together how how the how the brick joints are met around the windows, the doors, the openings, etc. You want to see everything and it was huge. We also then went on to I was also working on a job with him for Vitara the furniture design and furniture company and we Design, not unusually now I realise. Of course we drew by hand again, we drew the chairs at one to one scale, because you did because it's why wouldn't you? So his attention to detail was I thought was, was incredible and a huge a huge influence or maybe drew drew them at one to one. Yeah, the mass we had a big a zero or double A zero drawing board in the old days. Yeah, it was, I mean, it was kind of crazy. Not crazy, but it was just an interest. It was a concept that hadn't come across before to be to be looking at this level of detail. So he was definitely a huge influence. But then as a contrast to that they the architects I went to work with after him was this guy, or is this gentleman called mCherry? The looky who I mentioned was part of the Memphis group back in the 80s, very pop, punk, you know, whatever design group, and makayley, who is still a great friend of mine, and we keep in touch, whenever I'm in Milan is to this day, he's he is a was a CRO, where he experiments he has no qualms about making mistakes. So he will he just he creates, he just keeps creating just keeps coming out. And he'll admit himself. So sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes it works sometimes. But he doesn't. He doesn't hold back. And I thought that's also that's also something I admire. So between the two, which is quite different. I try and sort of tread that balance between what cheerio does, which is really, almost perhaps overly controlled. I don't know, you might say, but a very controlled, let's say, and what the looky does, which is like, okay, let's just draw it. Let's just Let's just model it. Let's just see how it looks. And it's between the two, it's a great way to work as a designer, I think because you because if you can, if you can bounce between the two, then obviously, you've got the free reign of creativity. Plus, you're obviously being concerned about how it's going to come together. That's the idea anyway,

Lefteris Heretakis:

great. What has been your biggest mistake?

Unknown:

Yeah, another one I struggled to answer. Because, to be honest, there is there is no one big mistake that I that comes to mind. I think if anything, it's the the only mistakes I may have is perhaps to trust people, which sounds a bit cynical. But it's you know that the mistakes that do come to mind with things like you know, if you work with some clients, and you never received the final payments, so, you know, I trusted them or you or you work with some you have people who work with you, and you think they are working alongside of you. And then before you know it, all of a sudden they've gone and taken some of your clients with you or with your database. Or even or even perhaps, it's not, not a regret not a mistake, but perhaps sometimes a little bit of naivety, I can be a bit naive, I just assume that everyone can be as, as involved in fused nastic. And as concerned about a project as I can be. I do tend to get sometimes a little bit emotional about a project going in a certain direction. And perhaps my mistake can be that not obviously not the only mistake I make because it's not everyone is always on board. And they're not as confused or as concerned about as I might be. But no big mistake. I'm lucky. I'm lucky in that regard. Now.

Lefteris Heretakis:

What principles do you adhere to the designer?

Unknown:

Ah, that's a tricky one. Did you send me that one before?

Lefteris Heretakis:

What principle is your general design process? Or?

Unknown:

Yeah. I guess it picks up a little bit on probably what I just described with Chip Tyrion de Lucchi. The if, if we if I start with a blank piece of paper, which I'll be honest, actually first First of all, I'll be honest, is in a lot of the work we do is very that I do my studio it's very rare that I have a blank piece of paper because we're either working with something or with an existing building or within an existing interior with or within some context. It's it's very, very rare to be given a blank piece of paper Plus, I'll also admit to being one of those people a bit like the writer, the writer's block you face. If you are given a blank piece of paper like oh my gosh, you know, what do I do? How do I stop? So In that situation in any of those situations, actually, particularly the latter one, where if it is a blank piece of paper, my principles are is, are perhaps DeLuca is principles like get it out there, let it flow, just keep getting the ideas going, that's the only way to go. Just draw them, just say them, just model them no matter how stupid it may seem, let's do it. Let's see what it looks like. And, of course, that's easier said than done. Because in in a commercial world, you don't often have that time to do that. But it is, that's something you have to fight for, as a designer as best you can, particularly when, when it is a blank piece of paper, you need that time, I'm a great believer that you need that time to be creative, and throw things out. I think it was brucea, who said something about how he would take an idea and it let it sit in his mind and then come back to it once it nurtured and nourished and blossomed into something within his mind. But in that regard, he was right, I think you do have to throw ideas down on paper or in some whatever it may be on the computer. And then ideally, you'd actually go away, and come back to them again, and then tweak with them a bit more, and then go away again, then come back a bit more so that the principles I would have would be, that's how you start. That's how I get going. And then so allow the allow the creative juices to flow. But then, at some point, obviously, you do have to focus in on the details. And I am also I am a designer. And I tell you personally, my design studios is also a studio that actually we're strong believers in actually making sure that we design for the solution. I'm not I'm not, I'm not one that says okay, well, this is the way I want it. That's not it, Nick banks is trying to create something that looks like this. I'm not a I'm not a signature stylist or designer in that regard. So I do believe that the principles and once you've got the creative ideas out there, and even then you've got to focus them in towards that the the parameters are what is required, whether they be time or budget, or simply planning, planning expectations, whatever it may be.

Lefteris Heretakis:

That stick should designers be expected to solve everything?

Unknown:

Yes. I think I mean, yes, I really do believe that I think they should be. I mean, of course there is if they can't physically solve everything. But I think a designer, a good designer, should be able to help a client, or help whatever client body that provide the solution that actually helps that client and that person move and find the solution that they want. So if that may even mean the designer saying, Actually, I'm not the right person to use, you should be using Joe or Jane over here, or whoever it may be. So I think they should have an answer for everything. Yeah, it's it's, I mean, in my my belief is that a designer is it is a profession, it is a profession, and we we do have to struggle to hold on to that idea at times, but it is a profession and in the same way that one goes to a doctor and expects to hear some answer some solution to help you. I feel designers should do the same thing. So and they should be open to that designers should be able to say, okay, so this is either I can help you do this, or we can help you do this, or this is the way you should do it. I think they should provide answers. Yeah, that's a that's their job.

Lefteris Heretakis:

How do you see the future of design?

Unknown:

Well, that kind of relates a little bit to what I just touched upon that in terms of the profession, I think the profession has struggled a little bit over the past few years to to retain the respect that it used to have an that many of us would like to have. I mean, it was very interesting. I always remember when I arrived in Italy started working with material. One of the things that was unique to Italy Innes is still the case here is the use of a title arquitecto as a as a term of respect, and wish we don't have it In, in the UK, or the Anglo Saxon world, it's there's a little that come through now you you got adopted from the European ways a few years ago. So you have engineers have tried to put they've got IR, in some of their name cards, that kind of thing. But it's very rare that it's used in day to day speech, whereas in, in day to day speech in Italy is still it was and it still is quite common that in a professional situation, though, someone will say Architecto, you know, with a term respects of what, you know, what's your opinion on something. And that also was, was easier if you like, in Italy, in the old days, because architecture was almost the only creative higher education stream. So basically, that's all that so whether you are an interior designer, a graphic designer, or an industrial designer, many of the architects, many of the designers slash architects, or fashion designer, even many of them from from the 70s, and 80s, all studied architecture. So, John Franco, for a, for example, fashion designer was an artist studying architecture, I believe, Armani may have even studied architecture initially. So that that term was a very generic term for someone who was a creative person who could give her an opinion on something. So, I think that, that level of respect, is, as I mentioned, is, is starting to weaken here and Italy a bit already. But definitely, in the UK and Anglo Saxon world has, has been lost. And I think that's quite a sad thing. So the future, unfortunately, and the negative, the negative side of it doesn't look so good for that in that regard. Because, because, as designers, you've spent your years studying training to become skilled in what you do. And you may not always have the feedback and the response that you would hope to get. On the other side, you could say, well, actually, design the future designers is become much more democratic, because every, every Sunday newspaper, every has full of designers that the TV is full of Grand Designs about, you know, people don't be people are their own designers. So there's, there's lots of software out there to design your own kitchen to do this to do that. And you know, I care which is an amazing company, will help you in that regard. So on. On the plus, of course, is design is completely open and democratic. Now, everyone's a designer, everyone's a designer. So that's, that's the future everyone. Everyone is a designer, everyone thinks that are a designer, and everyone can be a designer and with with the advent of 3d printing, etc, we've we've heard about this, people can start to do their own things at home, that's which is without a doubt as a positive thing. Where that leaves the profession, I'm not sure because it becomes it's, it certainly challenges the profession. And again, putting forward a positive spin, I could say, well, it's a it's a good thing, because it challenges designers to be even better provide even better service. But it's, I think you and I, and many of the listeners will know it's pretty hard.

Lefteris Heretakis:

But everyone can't be a doctor, because you mentioned doctors earlier. So it's a bit tricky, isn't it?

Unknown:

Exactly. Is that the doctors? Yes, yeah, yeah. Even even doctor or an engineer, but but even doctors, I mean, a good friend who's a doctor who will tell you he complains about the fact that people come in, they've Googled what what's wrong with them so that they're telling the doctor what's wrong. So it's not it's not that dissimilar in that regard. So we think the future the future design is is has a plaster that is more open and democratic. It definitely makes it much more challenging for those entering the profession, definitely, to distinguish themselves now.

Lefteris Heretakis:

How do you relate to design awards? Are they important, or do they just scraped the surface design?

Unknown:

Okay, I'll be honest, I don't have a lot of time for design awards, and no disrespect to anyone involved in them in any way, either as participants and winning them or organising them, whatever. But I found out very early on that design awards. have their own agenda basically, and In the worst case, you can pay for them. Basically, you can pay to be the designer of the year. And even if you don't pay exactly what you are, then for that kind of thing, a lot of them have a lot of ulterior interests and motives. I mean, as I say, so I'm, I'm working predominantly, our offices based in Hong Kong, we have an office in Shanghai, and we also have an office in Milan, but and I would say, over the past 25 years, since I started with a Pacific or goods, whatever be 60% of my work has been in mainland China. So I've seen China develop over the past 25 years, and how and what's happened. And one of the things that has appeared in China is the fact which exists in other places as well. So it's not just a China, not just phenomenon unique to mainland China. But you can is, it's very hard to control this industry, but you can be, you can have an award for almost anything, because there's someone running something that some media company, whether they're based out of Beijing, or Shanghai, or Guangzhou, or Chong Ching, or wherever it may be, who will give you for a small bit of advertising revenue will give you a little plaque and a title that says you are the Designer of the Year for Asia Pacific, which is like one. Yeah. So, so. So I yeah, I have a very, it's probably unfortunate, because there are there are obviously some great awards out there some great prizes. And on a on the very top level I, I do, I'm interested to see who wins the Pritzker Prize, etc. Or the Stirling prize in architecture. But there's an awful lot of design awards, which I don't think are particularly worthwhile spending time on because particularly as a, for the most of us mere mortal designers, it's a lot of time and energy to put things in. And what you know, what does it what does it get you on? I mean, yeah, the idea, of course, it gets you more clients. So that's what it gets you I guess, but then you could, arguably, you could be running just a great Instagram account, and that's a good you'll get your good clients. Or even better still, which is a philosophy that I follow is that you just do a great job for a client, and they'll come back or they'll tell their friends and that the that's for me, that's the best thing that you don't need to design awards for that you need to but the word of mouth is something that you cannot, can never be word of mouth recommendation cannot cannot really be corrupted. That's a hard thing to do.

Lefteris Heretakis:

What other skills are needed in design, like outside design?

Unknown:

Well, I definitely, I definitely think presentation skills, in the widest sense of the word is absolutely huge. I mean, as a, as a, again, as a designer of a certain age, it kind of frightens me. If I ever think I would if I ever had to do about the amount of design or presentation skills that are required these days, luckily, I have a team of people I work with who can young men, most of whom are all of them are younger than I am, who are very good at producing good designs, and then presents them very well. But I think presentation is is really is really key. Again, in relation to everything I've just said so far, you could say it as a good thing as a bad thing. Because you could say it's very superficial. But it's unfortunate that it is the world we live in that people have very short attention spans. And so if you can present your idea in the the most succinct and the most captivating way, which may mean 3d animation may mean any kind of computer with whiz bang graphics then if you can do that, that's absolutely key. That's absolutely key. So I think presentation skills in absolutely important but then also the soft skills are key to that so not not just whether you know how you are with your Photoshop and your your yours or your software skills, but also actually your ability to to communicate clearly and succinctly and, and cohesively I think I've been fairly fortunate again, that comes back to my engineering background. That was one of the things So we were, we were always taught it when you're writing reports in engineering, I remember one tutor would actually go through it and say, Well, you know, these words are, these words are unnecessary, you don't need to add these adjectives, it's just factual. So they would take out things because it was like, it's a report, just keep it to the point that people just want to know the details. And, and to some extent, that's, that's similar when you're presenting, when you're presenting an idea, you really want to get across as as enthusiastically, obviously, and positively as you possibly can the core of the idea. So I think presentation skills in the, as I say, in a broader sense, are definitely, absolutely fundamental. I think maybe, I mean, this is, I know, in my master's degree, we did some human psychology and I think actually, some human psychology skills are pretty good as well. Reading people reading the situation, reading the understanding how, both not only in in your meeting with your clients and your customers and your your consultants, but meeting, but understanding the whole environment of the of the situation, from from a psychological point of view, I think is quite good, you know, use of colour all those things we, we get taught about at college, but often they're just little, little, you know, very brief parts of the whole course. So I think, I think, for me that that was I think that's a key part of their skills. Yeah, you know, money. That's pretty, that's pretty important. In again, in the broadest sense of the term, if you if you work, if you're part of a team, understanding how the the budgets and what the requirements are, that's, that's key if you're obviously if your own design, if your own freelance work, or you're running a studio, obviously the the financial aspect is absolutely key. And that's, I think that's when then of course, then related, and then on from that, I'm just throwing out ideas generally, but on from that one thing that I'm I find that hugely important these days running a studio is is human management. I was gonna say man management, I think, I'm not sure I don't think people management, that's the correct term. So, by that, I mean, really, the team that you work with, I think, that's, that's, that's even more important than than it ever was. I mean, it was always important, but I think it's just said in the past, some people some designers got away with not having great people management skills. Because they were just they were so amazing as designers, but I think that's you can't get away with that. In this day and age. People management is absolutely key to get the most out of people to get people on board to to make everyone happy to be working the way they're working. Because let's be honest, anyone, anyone, any designers listening to this listening to this podcast, I mean, they haven't gone in it for them going into the profession for the money. Now there was go into design to become rich. If that's if anyone out there thinking that's what's gonna happen. Sorry. Tune out now change, change direction ain't gonna happen. But yeah, joking aside that's, that's it is about the people in design. Definitely.

Lefteris Heretakis:

That's how do you maintain your enthusiasm

Unknown:

maintain it. Well, I tell you one, one thing I don't do which which may, again seem almost counter contributing counterintuitive to, to what some people would expect is I do not spend a lot of time looking at design magazines or design websites, or even watching design TV or things like that. I and the reason I don't do that I did as a young as a young person as a young designer, don't get me wrong, I mean, I still actually it's a bit of a problem because I have a collection of Italian design magazines that I I would buy and spend a huge amount of money on the 10,000 12,000 lira I think it was for a copy of Domus or, or avatar, or any of these magazines which and I've now got several many years worth in the studio, which I'm so reluctant to get rid of but no one's interested in them these days. So I did used to pour through the latest design magazines to see what was going on. Now I don't because actually I find the it's almost like the almost saps your enthusiasm almost saps your energy. So does That's for me personally. I mean, I because I think it would just, it's not where I'm getting inspiration, I don't get inspiration from looking at, or enthusiastic or enthusiasm from looking at other people's work necessarily on a, either on the screen or a printed piece of piece of paper. Where I do get a few of them from is actually from elsewhere outside. On. I mentioned trees earlier on. I mean, there's I'm quite, quite I enjoy being out in nature, I enjoy my going out into the countryside, just been hiking this weekend, in the rain and snow would you believe in the upper nines of Italy and it's beautiful, it's inspirational, it fills you with enthusiasm. So it's Yeah, and obviously, as I walk through nature, I'm not necessarily getting designed solutions immediately. It's not like a look at a forest or I think that oh, that's that would be a good idea for my new restaurant design or make it you know, it's not as literal as that but it's, it's allows you your appreciation of, of the beauty of of life allows you to be enthusiastic in other ways. And so I I tend to my enthusiasm tends to come from or my inspiration that say to be more precise comes from either outside nature, or movies. I'm a big movie fan. Even even designed highly designed movies like The Korean movie parasite with a super super designed house. I mean, I love all that. And it's that's I love I love that, but I love the books, I love the stories as well, so and of course music, all of those inspirations and makes me enthusiastic.

Lefteris Heretakis:

What, what would be some characteristics or qualities of a design that you'd be looking for? What kind of characters would you be looking for in a in a designer? So that would be sort of, I think,

Unknown:

Well, okay, for me, the number one characteristic that a good designer should have is inquisitiveness. So in inquisitiveness, yes, that's when inquisitiveness to be inquisitive. And I think that's as, as a studio owner, and an employer. That's what I look for in other designers. And I think if, if I've ever been in a client situation and what I want my clients, I want my clients to look for the same, the same thing. So and by that I mean it should it's a characteristic that should be that it comes with the sort of inspiration and enthusiasm someone who goes back to my idea of why you know why I can't walk down the street without stopping to look at something how that comes together, because because you should as a designer, you should constantly questioning constantly saying, well, actually, can it be that was done like this before? But can it be done in another way? So inquisitiveness is definitely if that is the right word for me that just that curiosity of me Yeah, that's better. Yeah, yeah. Curiosity.

Lefteris Heretakis:

What about portfolios?

Unknown:

Yeah, tricky ones really tricky. Yeah, gosh, it's portfolios are really challenging. And unfortunately, they are a lot of work. And they constantly have to change. So your portfolio has to, ideally, your portfolio has to be tailored to the person you're speaking to. So from obviously, from a studio point of view, that's pretty obvious if as a studio, if we're going to pitch for a new hospital design, then obviously we have we within our portfolio work we show work that's relevant. And if we're going to a restaurant design, we show other words, that's pretty obvious. But even ideally, as an individual, you will be tailoring your portfolio to, to show examples of what would be of interest to that person or people that you're speaking to. So portfolios are very important. And luckily, they are 99% of my digital these days, which is absolutely fine. Everyone's happy with them being digital. Obviously, the bigger they are, we are we live in we live in a visual world where we are working in visuals, so the bigger they are, the better. So the ideal thing is you have your big 54 inch flat screen TV that you can plug your memory stick into and boom when you show all these things that you show your great work and a great score. owl. So that's yeah, they're hugely important. And but they are hugely important, hugely, huge amounts of time they take up as the SEC, as they need to be constantly refreshed and tailored to whoever you're speaking to. And they shouldn't be too long. That's your thing. They shouldn't be too, they shouldn't be too much should be. Again, no one has any. Everyone has everyone has very short attention spans these days. So whether it's a client or a potential employer, unfortunately, everyone has a very short attention span. So you've got to be prepared to get your message across pretty quickly. But then you've also got to be prepared to have backup just in case they ask you to explain things in more detail. Which comes back to the point you have to have, you do a lot of work, and you got to be ready for all circumstances.

Lefteris Heretakis:

What is the single piece of advice that you would give to anyone started out as a designer, and of course, as a client as well. So it's two, it's two sides.

Unknown:

I think, again, probably relates to what I said earlier, cute curiosity. So I think as a designer, show that you are curious and inquisitive and enthusiastic. I think that's that's, I think almost with those traits, you could get, you should be able to get through, you should get that that's what any employer or client wants to see. I believe they want to see that. That that creative spirit basically. And I think II and I think even for as from the client side as well, that's, that's, that's correct. That's what they should be looking for. They should be looking for designers that have questioned or pushed the boundaries, or approached a solution in a different way. Not for the sake of it, not for just purely for the sake of being different. But for, for the fact that they've actually provided a solution that's unique to the problem that was was given them. They haven't just used a cookie cutter solution. So I think, yeah, the best piece of advice, yeah. Curiosity definitely. About for everyone, for everyone. Yeah, enjoy life question life question. And then and then relish it and revel in it and being happy and enthusiastic about it.

Lefteris Heretakis:

And what is the most important thing you've discovered as a designer?

Unknown:

The most important thing I've discovered the designer is Z, he repeats the question like, like a politician, play for time. I think the most important thing I've discovered is actually I'm trying to kind of do one word, but I can't so two words. Or four words, be humble, but be confident those those things I would say, I think, I think, design you no matter, you can never know that all the answers. And that that's the whole point of being constantly curious and inquisitive and questioning, you can never know all the answers. So even if you visually think you do, you do must, you must understand you, you you don't and you must have some humbleness in that regard, and understand that you're, you're you're a designer, ultimately providing a solution to something or someone that needs your help. So that's let's let's be humble in that regard. But at the same time, be confident. Because, again, to use a doctor analogy. If I have to amputate the leg, I want them to be I want them to be confident they know what they're doing. Basically, I don't want to hurt you're having a hard Oh, I'm not sure about this. So I want I want the designer to be to be confident in what they're doing as well. But with this, make sure I've been humbled at the same time so they don't allow their egos to run wild.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Brilliant. Well, thank you so much for a fantastic interview. Make has been fantastic. It's been really, really, really wonderful. Thank you. Thank you for your time.

Unknown:

You're welcome. It was nice talking with you. Thanks.