If you have found yourself feeling weary of late, your bottom may have found comfort in one of Richard Casson, (Cumbrian designer, inventor and caricaturist’s), Tri – Seat chairs which have been featured in a variety of festivals over summer and have popped up in the Sugarhouse. We met up for a steamy cappuccino and talked design, Phillipe Starck and keeping yourself inspired. For more information take a look at his business Fold which you can peruse at your leisure at; www.fold-uk.com , via Facebook at www.facebooK.com/fold.furniture and follow him on Twitter @fold
Firstly do you regard yourself as a designer, an inventor or a business owner?
I like to think I’m an amalgamation of all three; I aim to combine innovation with a sense of business awareness. All of my designs are made in the UK as I think it’s really important to support UK business and industries, plus if anything goes wrong I can easily ask the factory to amend it.
Quite the Renaissance man. You studied Design at UCLAN – was this a direct and natural foundation for your following career in design?
Yes, I’ve always loved designing, right from when I was a kid. There was a strong family influence based around design, art and drawing and thinking back to my childhood it evokes exciting memories of wanting to create and innovate from a young age.
So what do you do now to nurture your creativity?
My creativity definitely thrives among the presence of other designers; there is nothing better than sitting down with a bunch of creative minds and discussing what would appeal to you as a client and throwing ideas around. Getting the creative juices flowing whilst working with others and brainstorming ideas together always creates excitement; I get a buzz from people with different outlooks.
Also, reading design magazines is always inspirational as there is so much innovative content that can spark new, exciting ideas.
So would you say being around like minded people is key to inspiration? What concepts really inspire you?
Yes, definitely. The question of ‘how would I modify a design to create something new or life changing’ is of constant interest, as is the idea of reinvention and how to seek other uses for existing objects is something which I find stimulating. Also, there is the continual argument of form over function, as can be seen in Philippe Starck’s infamous lemon squeezer.
However, you should never underestimate an outside perspective; there is nothing more useful to help validate your ideas than constructive criticism. Learning from other people is a fundamental meaning of what it is to be a designer.
You have recently gained your Masters degree in Hemp Composites from Lancaster Product Development Unit. Have you found this has enriched your own practice as a working designer?
My master’s has been an interesting experience where I have gained a more academic awareness of the design process which has involved the many formalities of design. Hemp is an amazing plant which can be made into a variety of different things, so is great for design. However, I personally prefer the practical freedom of creating, but it was good to get another recognised and reputable academic qualification.
As a proud parent of two lovely children, do you think it’s important to encourage their creativity?
Definitely! Having kids is such a life changing experience in so many ways but in terms of creativity they are always provided with constant support to draw, scribble and make a mess. There is always art on the walls and magazines scattered around to inspire them. I wouldn’t force them into the creative industry but would like to encourage them as much as possible, so it’s always an option.
Apart from your kids what do you consider your proudest creation?
I’d have to say my proudest designs are my furniture ideas, especially the Tri – Seat chairs as they’ve been pretty successful. I draw caricatures as a sideline, which is one of my best party tricks – I take great enjoyment in making others happy.
How about your worst design?
There have been trials and tribulations along the way but with design it’s all about nipping an idea’s faults in the bud and knowing what will work and what won’t. Initially you should see what has the potential to work, what the errors may be and how to prevent them from happening.
Do you have any advice for young designers?
One of the most important pearls of wisdom is to never give up and to believe in the validity of your dreams. Have a depth of ideas which you believe in and keep trying to make them happen. Be persistent. Make it a focus to maintain relationships with like – minded people as not only can they inspire you, but can help to build up a range of contacts. For now just seize every opportunity and keep trying. You’ll get there!