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We speak with Katerina Zachariades, Design Director at Morgan, about the design process, bespoke products and the challenges of today’s markets.
I believe the design process cannot happen in a vacuum. We need to be aware of trends as well as requirements for a new product. Design is an ongoing process at Morgan. We constantly update our market research and focus our efforts on design development that is innovative as well as fit for purpose.
We have been collaborating with external designers for the last five years – once we had a presence in London with our Clerkenwell showroom where we could express our brand. The showroom and the design-focused events we hold there have been a great resource and venue to both establish professional relationships and launch new products. Provided we find the right personality and share the same design approach, we have found that the collaboration both adds to and refreshes the established Morgan brand.
Ideas for new products themselves come relatively easily; taking ideas from conception to full realisation is the primary challenge. This is an important message to graduates: it takes 20% effort to design a new product and 80% to develop and achieve the design to production phase. It surprises me how many young designers do not understand this to be part of the creative process.
It isn’t a linear process. From 3D CAD to physical prototypes, it’s important to continually return to the ‘drawing board’ until all elements work. In chair design, this means structure, proportion and comfort. We usually have an initial mood board or concept sketch, which we constantly refer back to along the way to make sure we remain true to the first idea.
The design management process is there to focus on quality and a realistic timeline. It is important to arrive at the right quality but also to meet targets. This is always a challenge. We follow processes that highlight key deadlines for the development of the product and allocate one member of our team to control and be responsible for each project.
Bespoke products are definitely a growing part of our business. In some cases, they work smoothly – like a design collaboration. In others, they are price driven, which can result in compromised quality and no time for testing, whether ergonomically or for comfort. We avoid the latter option where possible. However, we view bespoke design collaborations as a positive since they enable interior designers to further customise their clients’ projects.
On average, we launch two collections a year. This has been more or less constant in the last few years. As the demand for customised products increases, however, we have increased the number of bespoke versions of our products to suit specific project needs.
With the proliferation of manufacturing and design, as well as shared information, unique design is difficult to achieve. However, singularity should not always be the end goal, particularly at the expense of well thought out, innovative products with design integrity. We aim for this, and we hope our clients recognise our commitment to quality and beautiful design – and the passion and care that go into our products.
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