Ross Lovegrove is considered to be a pioneer in the field of industrial design, having focused his research on intelligent organic form. He is a graduate of the Manchester Polytechnic School (now renamed to Metropolitan University of Manchester, 1980), holds a Master’s degree in Design from the Royal College of Art, London (1983) and is the founder of Studio X, which is set up in Notting Hill, London. The Welsh born designer is a passionate enthusiast of digital technology, which he combines with principles of nature’s evolution to create what he calls “fat-free design”.
During his career, Ross Lovegrove has fruitfully collaborated with many leading companies from various fields, like Artemide, Kartell, Moroso, Apple Computers, Tag Heuer, Herman Miller, Issey Miyake, Peugeot and Japan Airlines among others. His admired work has been exhibited in Europe, Asia and the United States of America, while his pieces of art stand in permanent museum collections around the world.
How important is culture to a designer? Does ethos play any part?
Cultural objectives that raise awareness and educate in design are extremely important.
It’s at the core of what we create here, embedded fundamentally in the way we think and the results we obtain. It’s related to a life of design, a total commitment to elevating design as a universal agent of change, responding to the Arts and Sciences.
Tell us what guides your designs.
Design should be guided by human and earth centric sensitivity and understanding. It should embrace the issues of our time and seek meaning and relevance. It’s also an aesthetic profession, with the power to lift people’s spirits to a new dimension. Today, the digital realm is helping us advance the form pool and celebrate a new kind of natural beauty.
Designers are often put under pressure to deliver results quickly in a demanding market. Do you perform better under stress?
Most of the pressure comes from Chinese and Korean companies who expect design to happen in an instant. This is very stressful and, quite frankly, meaningless… good design comes when the time is right. To better understand this, I suggest reading the latest interview with Jony Ive (Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design,) who recently slammed corporations that force designers to alter good product design for marketing’s sake, resulting in what he calls ‘careless’ design. It’s a pity, because there is great potential in Asia, but they just don’t understand the design process, which has essentially been evolved by leading European Designers. I decline a lot of projects because they want 1000 ideas a day!
Constantly evolving technology has helped mankind achieve things in everyday life previously unheard of. You are justly considered a pioneer in technology-based design; have you ever been overwhelmed by the apparent ease with which progressive technology can alter life as we know it?
Yes, we have to go with the flow on this, because the new economy will be based on technology not oil. Look at the amazing level of progress in cars, aviation, aerospace and communications technology, health and biosciences… It’s a fantastic time to be giving form to technology and welcoming these new developments, which have global impact and are game changing.
How does evolution influence form?
We are in the course of constant evolution, so at any one time, we are pivotal in the sequence. Looking back for human understanding and looking forward to a better world. Nature and natural forces are an absolute God’ send in gleaning a greater perspective οf our position and potential.
Your work has not only been exhibited in many museums around the world (Guggenheim Museum NY, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Axis Center of Japan amongst others,) but is also being held in the permanent collections of various design museums (MoMA New York, Design Museum of London, Vitra Design Museum as well as others.) How does it feel to see your work exhibited all around the world? Did you expect to have such a successful career when you started back in the ‘80s?
No, not at all… when I hear of my success, it just feels as if it is about someone else and another life. I am forward thinking and my optimism about contributing to life, is based on the next day and how I can grow, mature and adjust, to remain relevant to all things considered in a social, as well as industrial, realm. I still feel that I’m capable of inventing something truly groundbreaking if I’m given the time and space to think it through.
What advice would you give young designers today?
Understand the big picture and develop your awareness to the point where you can judge what you do… I still believe that a great idea on paper is better that a meaningless object made.
It’s philosophy first.