Will Barker, Product designer, Samsung Design Europe
Will Barker is celebrating the end of his four-month probationary period at Samsung Design Europe, and the start of his full-time career as a product designer at the electronics giant.
’I love the process of designing, of flashing forward from sketch phase when you can see something jumping out of the paper, to seeing it realised – that is such a rewarding process,’ says Barker.
Another important driver for Barker is the gaining of trust from his superiors. He describes a moment during his early days at Priestman Goode, where he spent two years from 2008 onwards, as generating his most frightening professional moment.
’I was working on a project there as a junior, and the one senior designer assigned to the job was really busy. I was pretty much left to my own devices, and had to sink or swim. This gave me my confidence, and my biggest jump,’ he says.
Barker likes the hands-on approach to design. ’I love working in workshops rather than being holed up in front of a computer – designers should get their hands dirty. I love simple block models,’ he says. Barker suspects his desire to engage physically with the design process stems from his year at Paul Stott Design, working on furniture ranges for Italian manufacturers, during university. ’This is where I picked up a lot of design techniques,’ he says.
Barker’s continuing affinity for furniture design is twinned by his interest in industrial design. He would like to ’check out the West Coast of America – where industrial design began – and get a bit of international experience’. ’Will Barker always displayed tremendous talent, but without the ego that can blight students of great ability. Behind his unassuming, humble character is a creative powerhouse. He is always searching for the best idea, creating, refining and finessing his designs into elegant solutions. I caught up with him recently and he was typically humble, even when I told him that we are using his old projects as teaching aids. Barker is one of the most talented people I have worked with and the design industry is all the better for having him in it.’
2007 Nottingham Trent University BA Product Design
2008 Priestman Goode Product designer
2010 Samsung Product designer
James Dale, Programme leader BA Product Design , Nottingham Trent University
’Will Barker always displayed tremendous talent, but without the ego that can blight students of great ability. Behind his unassuming, humble character is a creative powerhouse. He is always searching for the best idea, creating, refining and finessing his designs into elegant solutions. I caught up with him recently and he was typically humble, even when I told him that we are using his old projects as teaching aids. Barker is one of the most talented people I have worked with and the design industry is all the better for having him in it.’
Duncan Fitzsimons, Director, Vitamins Design
Duncan Fitzsimons stormed on to the product design scene three years ago with his revolutionary Folding Wheels, which have since garnered him many column inches, bursaries and awards nominations. Though it was initially developed for bicycles, Fitzsimons is now attempting to sell the innovation to wheelchair manufacturers, having just finished the first set of prototypes suitable for wheelchair use.
’We’ve been doing user studies and getting feedback on the fine details, and the design work is pretty much there now, which is good,’ says Fitzsimons.
His motivation to design comes through ’wanting to make people have enjoyable, meaningful experiences with things, and using technology to make things better rather than for its own sake’.
The foldable wheelchair wheel is not his only venture. He helped set up Vitamins Design two-and-a-half years ago, initially purely as a collective of product, interaction, fashion and packaging designers. The group now also operates as a consultancy.
As part of Vitamins, Fitzsimons is currently designing some products for a tie-up between Nokia and snowboarding company Burton. The project, Push, will be unveiled in March 2011. He is also working on a project for Arup and the Technology Strategy Board to help people to find practical ways to save energy.
Fitzsimons would like to see a more joined-up approach to design throughout the commercial sector.
’Large companies will have a design department, which means “the way it looks”, and an engineering department, which means “the way it works”, and never the twain shall meet. This is slowly changing, but it must continue to do so,’ he says.
2005 University of Bath MEng
2007 Royal College of Art MA Industrial Design Engineering
2008 Vitamins Design Co-founds the consultancy
Dale Russell, Russell Studio Visiting professor Royal College of Art and Imperial College London
’Duncan Fitzsimons’ approach to design, technology and the human being is summarised by his product Folding Wheels, which enables a bicycle or wheelchair to be stored and transported as hand luggage. His goal is to make life better through the way people live and interact with things. This product, and his general approach, make immediate impact because of their overriding focus on the human significance of good design.’
James Harrison, Partner, James UK
A rocking chair propelled new graduate James Harrison to a job as a furniture designer at Habitat in 2006, a year after he exhibited it at New Designers and caught the furniture retailer’s eye. Having landed such a cushy number, many graduates would be content to stay at Habitat for a long time, but Harrison had bigger plans.
’It was a great experience working there and being very hands on,’ says Harrison. ’I learnt so much, I travelled a lot and I loved getting stuck into the factories, learning a massive amount about production,’ he says.
After three years, he left to dedicate himself to his own business.
Working with business partner James Kinmond, who graduated from the same course at Northumbria University a year before him, Harrison relaunched James Design, their joint venture, at the London Design Festival this year, renaming it James UK. Besides private commissions, Harrison makes furniture for the contract trade. The pieces are popular with hotels, particularly in the US, and the consultancy is now quoting for a bank in Dubai.
Harrison speaks kindly of the furniture industry. ’Once you get into it, you realise that the furniture industry is a very friendly place, and not at all intimidating,’ he says.
2005 Northumbria University BA Furniture and Product Design
2006 Habitat Furniture designer
2010 James UK Relaunches James Design with new name
Louisa Pacifico Sales manager New Designers
’I knew James Harrison would be a designer to watch out for in the future when I spotted his rocking chair at New Designers 2005. Impressively, he became an in-house designer for Habitat shortly after this, but his desire to run his own business took over and James UK was formed. The new collection, launched this year, is set to inspire a new wave of British designers.’