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Future gen design: Will Nock, Associate Interior Designer, MoreySmith

The next generation of creative talent on radical ideas, lessons learnt and tomorrow’s design landscape.

20/02/2024

6 min read

Joining MoreySmith five years ago, Nock has become a key part of the team, bringing with him a commitment to eco-conscious design. His energy to question and challenge all elements of the design process ensured his inclusion in the Mix 30 under 30 Class of 2023 and he leads the studio’s sustainability approach – regularly attending seminars to ensure MoreySmith are at the cutting edge of the latest industry developments.

What do younger designers bring to the table?

Idealism is often seen as a negative, as it can be associated with naivety and inexperience. However, idealism also brings with it the curiosity of the unknown, which is often where innovation and creativity begin. It can be an antidote to cynicism; just because something didn’t previously work for the older generation, doesn’t mean it can’t work now.

What are the greatest challenges young designers face?

The technological world has bettered our ability to communicate and understand complicated problems with the vast amount of data we now have at our fingertips. However, this has also brought with it the paradox of choice. The ‘optionality’ we have at our disposal can leave us feeling powerless and frustrated, because choosing ‘one’ option can make us feel like we must give up the rest.

In a design context, choosing too many narratives, or trying to answer too many problems, can lead to several diluted strategies rather than one concise one. Everywhere means nowhere.

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity for me is the ability to extract unique patterns from existing inputs. I have always resonated with the concept of the Medici Effect, where it is believed that creativity and innovation occur at the intersections of different disciplines, where a combination of existing ideas from different fields come together to make a single unique idea.

This approach mitigates siloed thinking by encouraging a multidisciplinary approach. For example, how biomimicry takes inspiration from biology and embeds it into creating psychologically comfortable spaces.

What is your radical idea for the future of design?

Decentralising the process by giving users more autonomy to shape the spaces they, as authentic individuals, best thrive in.

What makes you most worried, and what makes you most hopeful, about the future of design?

It might be cliche, but Artificial Intelligence is both exciting and incredibly scary. It allows us to quantify massive amounts of data in seconds to help shape a conclusion, yet also uses enormous amounts of energy in doing so – via the colossal data centres being built throughout the world. This leads us to a paradoxical future where this new technology, born in an age where awareness of the detriment we are causing to the natural world is higher than ever, may heavily contribute towards its further decline.

Coupled with this is AI’s impact on meaning; everyone saw creativity as the last frontier for AI to reach, however, it’s clearly making serious moves in this area. As someone who finds a large part of my life’s meaning in being creative, I feel saddened that this could be in part taken away.

Tell us about a project you worked on that has most shaped your work.

That’s tricky as I’ve learnt a lot of different things from different projects. However, for some time I did lack a fair bit of understanding of how things develop from being a drawing to becoming reality, and this learning curve took place on 60 Charlotte Street, which was a project for venture capital firm REVCAP.

Understanding the way things are fabricated in reality rather than theory gives you a far greater appreciation when specifying materials in the first instance, and has allowed me to put greater thought into how things could be designed to be disassembled at the end of their lives.

Previously, emphasis has only been put on sustainable material specification, but not necessarily thinking about what is needed for those materials to be fixed and then removed when the time comes. I now always strive to think about the design circularity of what I am a part of creating.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learnt?

Getting out from behind the computer as much as possible and visiting sites. You can only get so far with a good drawing pack and general theory, as things always manifest differently when on site. It helps you to think on your feet and understand and appreciate the actual ‘buildability’ of what you have designed, which is vital in the delivery of a project.

Who or what has shaped your approach to design?

The Jewish Museum in Berlin by Daniel Libeskind showcased to me at an early age the incredible way a building can communicate a narrative and evoke specific emotions from its occupants. This has always led me to consider what I am trying to elicit from the design I am a part of creating, on behalf of those who will experience it. The functionality is obviously paramount, but when functionality can be coupled with a desired feeling, that’s when we hit the sweet spot.

What do you love about the industry and what do you hate?

There’s usually always an excuse to have fun, which is great – it’s far less ‘stuffy’ than many industries.

The scale of projects often involves many experts, which are obviously needed in the technological time we work in. This being said, it can sometimes be a struggle to get experts to see the bigger picture beyond their specialism. In some cases, the sense of collective vision doesn’t seem to be as strong as it may once have been.

Also, pace and cost efficiency are often still put ahead of design longevity – from a sustainability and human-centric perspective. The word ‘sustainability’ itself is becoming an overused buzzword that’s often used haphazardly, which borders on becoming greenwashing in many ways. Being sustainable shouldn’t be seen as adhering to an arbitrary trend, but rather becoming a natural way of doing business.

What would you do if you didn’t work in design?

I’ve always found the topic of psychology interesting; understanding why we do the things we do and finding the most meaningful pathways for people to become their best, authentic selves.

What is the trend you most want to see die and what is the trend you want to bring back?

The word trends. I can understand the fixation on determining the next ‘big thing’, but I think it endangers the idea that design should be more about evolution than revolution.

At MoreySmith, we define our role in contributing to a sustainable future by striving to create spaces for longevity and reciprocity; being mindful of both learning from the past as well as considering the future generations who will follow.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s important to remember that innovation often spawns from the ashes of your previous failings. I define failure as something not quite working out as it was originally planned to do so. I always think of Thomas Edison’s quote when he was inventing the light bulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Do you have a side gig?

Indeed I do! Early last year, suffering from chronic anxiety about my own life’s meaning, coupled with the conveyor belt of negative news about the state of the planet, I felt the need to do something to, well, settle at least the first point. So, I reduced my working week to four days, tightened my belt and created Will’s Wednesday Work:

Will: Not just a job title. I’m a multidisciplinarian, motivated foremost by purpose and driven by creativity.

Wednesday: Neither a day of rest nor a day dictated by others. Instead, a day dedicated to purposeful pursuit, nurturing creativity within and beyond myself.

Work: Speculative and creative in nature, embodying themes of waste reduction, sustainable living and frugality, to name a few.

Presently, I am creating furniture from easily accessible ‘urban foraged’ recyclable waste, promoting design circularity and the broader transition to a circular economy.

Will’s Wednesday Work is driven by a commitment to redefine our perspective on items often easily discarded and inspire a shift in how we value everyday objects. Be part of the journey from binning to winning by transforming waste into beauty and utility.

@willswednesdaywork

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