Are designers ideal users too? Does design education encourage students enough and give them fresh space to fly? Where and how should design and engineering be intersecting? We found some answers to these questions from a designer who found herself in design world directly after being educated for another discipline.
Laurence Humier is a Belgian designer who lives between Brussels and Milan since 2002. After studying engineering in Belgium, she travelled across Europe, Japan and Middle East. Following her heart, she moved to Milan and started her design career. As Ms. Humier tells, she solves problems of her own house, so that she is not only a designer of style but also a problem solver as well.
1. Would you please tell us a brief history of your life? How did your interest in design start?
My design career started 5 years ago, when I arrived in Milan. After studying engineering in Belgium, I travelled to Japan and I fell in love with an Italian. There had been a small change in my route and I came to Italy.
2. What influences does your life have on your designs?
My projects do not start with a demand by clients. That is because I notice a need first at my home. Then I come up with the idea of the new object to be worked on for further development. The concept, method and also production ways are always in my command. In other words, I always look for solutions of the problems in my own house and right after I get in touch with the people to produce, distribute and sell these objects.
3. What are the changes in your own approach to design?
I really started to like working with the craftsmen. I had never imagined before that I would like to work with others. But working with people who have different experiences is what attracts me today.
4. Italy is accepted as the center of design. Do you think that there is design geography like this on the world?
Actually the impression is yes; there is design geography like this. In here it is very well organized; of course if we talk about product design. Not like in Silicon Valley where there is the informatics and so on.
5. How do you imagine the world of future?
I think for design it is going to be difficult; because there is the competition of China, India. I believe, we have to find new ideas, concepts.
In Italy, for instance, it is possible to manufacture everything. The level of research for product innovation is high. You can make orders in few or high quantity. Splendido! But the problem is the cost, not always concurrence. I believe, the collaboration for outsourcing and transport systems should be better studied. I read this summer a book about tele-transportation... I am already dreaming about!
6. Do you have a specific method, or planned work chart when you are designing?
Yes, I have. I mostly don’t like having clients. So I don’t start working for clients. But the important thing is the product should be something innovative and also simple. Then it is also important to create a concept and maintain it during the development of the product.
7. From which kind of sources do you follow design world?
Internet, friends, colleagues and the exhibitions.
8. What kind of projects are you working on now?
The engineering of the Meeting Chairs and a prototype of a wooden chair.
9. Do you work on different projects at the same time?
Two or maximum three projects a year because my time is mostly dedicated to organizing the work, the production and creating contacts.
10. What was your first professional design?
‘La borsa salvagente’ which I started designing before coming to Milan and I won the first prize in Lineapelle Bologna (fiera della pelleteria).
11. What do you do in the course of getting necessary knowledge about the project?
I do cardboard models.
12. Do you have a special place or environment when designing?
13. Which one do you prefer most: working single or with a group?
To complete the projects it is really important to have external collaborations.
14. How do you feed your designer core?
Researches, shows, travelling.
15. Do design and art have to support each other?
Yes. Because design is more commercial and art is not. So they have to be in touch.
16. How do you define your designs? Can you evaluate your designs as related or in any design movement?
It is difficult to reply. I design traditional objects; not the ones that have not been produced before. Like a chair, a table. But I try to make them more complete.
17. As a designer do your professional life and your private life get confused?
I would prefer to say ‘no’. Free time is very important.
18. How do you define good design? Is it connected with the selling rates?
Good design is linked with good selling rate.
19. When you design which one do you use most: knowledge or instincts?
I would like to say instincts are in the first place but good knowledge is also needed.
20. While you are designing do you think about future, do you take challenges to shape the future or do you want to discover the shape of the future?
I hope to change even if it is going to be a small change.
21. Do you know about Industrial Design in Turkey?
I have the impression that there are very good ideas and things started to change. It is a culture with a lot of crafts but there is only the lack of network compared to Italy. It has to be well-organized.
22. How do you think design education should be?
In my opinion; it is better to study something else first and then to design.
23. What are your advices for novice designers?
Make something that you like to do.
...culture that you appreciate...
A little from everything. Italian, Japan, Belgian, American, Arabic. I like to be mixed.
...country that you want to live?
...cuisine that you like most?
When somebody cooks for me I like it best.
...drink that you prefer?
For evenings wine, for mornings orange juice.
...painter that had influence on you most?
Picasso. Both with his works and his personality.
...writer that you like most?
I don't like reading romance but I like getting informed by books or media.
kind of book that you prefer?
The one that gives you the impression of learning something. Actually, my choice depends on the moment and my mood.
movie you like most?
I could hardly answer. This again depends on my mood.
director you like most?
the brave one, which makes me laugh or cry.
style of music you listen to?
...your own design you like most?
I always want to make them better. So I don’t have a favorite one.
...design you like most?
One of the presents that my friend gave me: a tutu.
I offered a tutu to my niece. She is a ballerina. It was a beautiful object.
designer that you respect most?
It is difficult to answer... Certainly the Eames’, I have to say.
I consider Starck as a genius, but I also like very much objects from the anonym designers.
This interview was made by Hazal Gumus in August 2008. Designophy ©
(Edited by Koray Ozsoy)