Interview with Stéphane Leathead

Winner of Furniture Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Stéphane Leathead shares insights


Interview with Stéphane Leathead at Wednesday 26th of October 2016:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
SL : I obtained a degree in Graphic Design from the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM) in 1994. I started my carrer as a Computer Graphics lecturer in Singapore. This asian working experience is still inspiring me to this day.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
SL : I love the idea of creating something new. I'm always seeking for new ways of interacting with my environment. I became a Designer when I realized I could create and be paid for.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
SL : I choose to become a designer. I like the idea of creating for a living.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
SL : Branding and furniture design. Since I'm a graphic designer, I'm trying to communicate. I added recently object and furniture design to my practice. I wish to design more 3D projects.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
SL : Be curious and stay in listening mode. Always try to learn something new.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
SL : The capacity of pushing further de creative boundaries. Limitless creative mindset.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
SL : A balance between form and function. But above this well known statement, it's the ability to merge elements and to communicate something never seen before. It's when you can't stop looking at it, thinking how it was made.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
SL : Quality, beauty, functionality, efficiency. When something is well designed, you appreciate it and you're inspired by it. It makes you grow.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
SL : I wish to design a house based on social interaction instead of volume and necessities.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
SL : Passion. Every time I designed something, I have to be passionate about it. It is an intense emotion that help create the first spark.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
SL : Philippe Starck, Nendo, Ron Arad, Brodie Neill

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
SL : The Exocet™ chair. Its simplicity. With the design of just one slat shape you can create a multifunctional furniture. The look of it.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
SL : Never stop learning. Keep searching for answers, always be curious and accumulate knowledge on everything.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
SL : Probably I would have become a teacher. I always admired people capable of transmitting knowledge and sharing their experience with other.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
SL : It is the ability to conceive new solutions based on efficiency without compromise on aesthetic. Objects don't have to be ugly to be functional.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
SL : My passion to discover new things, to learn and acquire new knowledge.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
SL : In the most genuine way possible, close to what they are. Don't try to do like the other, be proud of who you are.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
SL : A design collection, new conceptual furniture to enhance learning interest and help develop intellectual curiosity.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
SL : To communicate my passion about design and its benefits.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
SL : To keep creating.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
SL : It allows to focus on improving our everyday's life.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
SL : the Exocet™ chair. I received an overwhelming response. I very proud of the look and simplicity of the design. I can't bring this idea to a simpler expression.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
SL : Design should be at the core of every projects. Designers should be involve at the beginning, allowing a more integrated process and a better, more efficient end result.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?
SL : New technology will help shape the future of the industry. We'll see new ways to build, new materials, new needs.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
SL : Good design always impose good simple solutions. Depending on the project complexity, you should always look for the most appropriate solution. But time should never be an issue.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
SL : Research. I need to collect information about it. I search for similar projects, I sketch and take notes and throw everything on paper without questioning.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
SL : Less is more – Mies Van Der Rohe

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
SL : Design sets the trends. But you never know how.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
SL : I see technology as a tool in my toolbox. It's there, it's accessible, use it wisely.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
SL : Mostly Adobe Creative Suite

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
SL : Materials play an important role. It can influence a production process of limit the possibilities.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
SL : How did he came up with this idea ?

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
SL : What was the quest behind the design ?

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
SL : Someone complementary, someone challenging yourself, helping you to bring the best out of you. Co-design is not for everyone but when chemistry occurs, it's always exciting.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
SL : I keep trusting myself. I never give up on something. Always looking for answers. Cultivate an appetite for discovery. Keep sketching.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
SL : Leonardo Da Vinci

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
SL : It's great to be recognized by the industry but it should not be a goal.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
SL : When I feel I have traction, I move forward. It is always rewarding when you accomplish something, when you know your ready for the next step, you look ahead and see the big picture.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
SL : No, but looking back, I was very curious to learn how things work, why we created them, what is it made of ?

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
SL : The future is exciting, we should look forward to it and keep designing to help mankind