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Studio Insight : David Irwin Design Studio

Over the past 18 months we have been working on a new collaborative collection with British designer David Irwin, which we will reveal more about in the coming weeks!
As we prepare for the launch of the collection, David has invited us into his studio in Newcastle to discuss his design process, sourcing ideas and the importance of collaboration:

A little about how I came to be here . . .
I’m originally from Northern Ireland, but I moved to Newcastle Upon Tyne to study 3D Design at Northumbria University. I was drawn there by the Schools reputation for hands-on applied teaching and a holistic approach to the business of design. After graduating I went on to complete a fellowship on the Designers in Residence Program at Northumbria before setting up my own design studio in 2011.

Since then, I’ve worked with several high-street brands such as Habitat, Heals and John Lewis and more recently design led companies like Deadgood, Case furniture and Another Country.
I’ve always had a curiosity for how objects are made and I enjoy the physical act of creating things myself. The satisfaction I get from seeing an idea make the jump off a piece of paper and into reality is the reason I became a designer in the first place.

What is important to you when starting a new project?
I think, to determine the key factors of the brief, researching the problem or requirement to gauge the client’s needs. At the same time seeking out the unique qualities of the company in order to deliver a product which fits within their brand.

I try to gain an understanding of the manufacturing processes involved as much as possible, to find out first-hand how a given material can be manipulated to greater effect, and if possible to bring a new approach to this. Understanding why something is made the way it is, and appreciating the consideration of its formation has a significant bearing on the way I work. I strip out anything unnecessary from the design whilst trying to retain an element of character and personality, which hopefully possesses authorship – a sense of my handwriting.

My favourite place for sourcing ideas and inspiration . . . .
Visiting new places or cultures is still a favourite for me. Spotting the smallest difference in the way something is created, or how something is executed makes you stop and question the decision making. Or something that sparks thoughts about different ways to solve a problem, instead of just accepting ‘the way it’s always been done’. I also like to visit libraries as a source of inspiration. I think the atmosphere helps as much as the subject matter I am researching. Having a physical book, I find, allows you to focus more on the content rather than the tendency to quickly consume on a screen.

I believe in the importance of collaboration because . . . .
Bringing together different expertise and experiences is often a great way to create value in a project, to approach a problem from a new perspective will hopefully produce a novel outcome. Having a collaborative approach is particularly important for me. Fostering close working relationships with clients helps to capitalize on their skill sets, whether that be a particular manufacturing specialism or market experience. I would say that having a willingness to explore new opportunities is key and it’s important to work with people who have shared values.

How do you overcome a creative block?
I like to run, this usually clears the head and helps to hit the reset button. Either that or a couple of whiskeys usually does the trick.

My top 3 to follow on @instagram for inspiration. . . .

Find out more about David here:
or follow the studio on instagram @_davidirwin

Photography by Mark Slater @markslaterphoto