Interview with Henry Chebaane

Winner of Lighting, Hospitality, Interior, Graphic, Luxury and Limited Edition Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Henry Chebaane shares insights


Interview with Henry Chebaane at Sunday 23rd of April 2017:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
HC : I am mostly self-taught: have been learning since the age of 15 and still continue every day.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
HC : To tell interesting stories about people and places, and assist clients in achieving their business goals.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
HC : It was a gradual process from age 15 and still continues today.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
HC : I create narrative concepts and design their physical manifestations in time and space.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
HC : Dream big, act small. Work hard, stay humble. Be ambitious, have patience.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
HC : The relevance to an audience, a time, a place, a purpose.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
HC : A really good design is always useful so is timeless, even when created for a particular audience and purpose.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
HC : Good design means good business. Good design enables and supports commercial success for clients and for the studio, so it's a reciprocal, self-perpetuating positive loop.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
HC : I have created and drawn several characters that I would like to develop into TV animated series, merchandising, retail stores and leisure outlets. To develop this will require finding time, resources and commercial partners.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
HC : My first animation series, which could possibly become a franchise for cinema and other activities. It's the story of three characters who try to save humans from ignorance, greed and dogma...not an easy mission.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
HC : Humour

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
HC : Many, but I would highlight Christopher Dresser, Walter Gropius, Raymond Loewy, Dieter Rams, Eero Saarinen, Alvar and Aino Aalto, Finn Juhl, Hans Wegner, Frank Lloyd Wright, Gio Ponti, Tadao Ando, Zaha Hadid.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
HC : Too many to list here but I would single out every products from Patricia Urquiola. She is consistently bringing innovative solutions that work as well as they look.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
HC : The greatest is yet to come and will be so for's a process, not an end-goal.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
HC : Learn every day, never stop watching and listening to others

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
HC : A gardener

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
HC : Design is the manifestation of intelligence with consciousness

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
HC : My wife

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
HC : Perseverance

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
HC : Mostly envy, ignorance and stupidity by some people. Thankfully much less than all the support and appreciation received from others.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
HC : With integrity and respect for their client and audience.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
HC : I will continue to merge art, culture, philosophy into functional commercial spaces and products. It is the interdisciplinary polymath dimensions of my work that keeps me curious, motivated and challenged every day.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
HC : To continue dreaming, thinking and creating until the last day.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
HC : Understanding their aspirations and solving their problems.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
HC : By combining intelligence with consciousness, design can provide solutions to most challenges on earth.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
HC : Hotels in Madrid, Budapest and Belgium: all are the conversion of a century-old buildings into contemporary hospitality spaces so the design requires to connect heritage and modernity into a seamless experience. I am also working on a restaurant project in Seoul, Korea and a large scale resort on the Baltic coast in Poland.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
HC : Every project that we could deliver as intended has been very satisfying, because we could demonstrate the validity of the thought process that took place during design conception and execution.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
HC : More attention to authenticity, relevance and waste-reduction.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?
HC : As wide as the horizon ahead of us, as blue as the sky above us.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
HC : Between a few days and a few years

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
HC : 48h of insomnia

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
HC : Think big, act small

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
HC : There is creative design that set the trends, and reactive design that follow trends.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
HC : Design is a combination of art and science, so both must be applied to effectively articulate and communicate intent and execution.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
HC : Personally I use a pencil and a bit of Adobe Creative Suite, my team are experts in all technical software to draw and render effectively and precisely every detail required.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
HC : The human eye, nose and ear have a narrow bandwith perception of the physical reality around us, most of which we are oblivious to.. so it is essential to fully utilise what we are able to perceive and implement into our design work.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
HC : What is the story?

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
HC : Great design or product by others always make me smile, it makes me feel connected to other human beings.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
HC : Everyone with an open, educated, enquiring, positive mind without dogma can make a great collaborator.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
HC : Each client

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
HC : Too many to list but I would highlight the work on environmental psychology by the likes of A. Mehrabian, J. A. Russell, anthropology work by E.T. Hall, D. Morris and research on Semiotics by D.Chandler and R.Barthes.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
HC : Reading, observing and listening every day to the world around us.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
HC : The authors of all the books I have read.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
HC : Recognition is important to assess if our work has a positive impact..though there is much more to learn and improve ahead of us. Design is a continuous process not a destination.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
HC : Everything on Planet Earth and beyond.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
HC : The more I learn, the more I realise how little do I know but also that somewhere, someone has also thought about the same idea. Once we realise that we are not as unique as we thought, we can just go with the flow and focus on enjoying the journey with others.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
HC : Smelling flowers, listening to birds and playing with my dogs.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
HC : No. Nothing will happen if you don't work increasingly harder at becoming better all the time.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
HC : Humanity is now in a very unstable position because of constant, rapid meta-evolution of technology..particularly in artificial intelligence, big data processing, bio-engineering and exploitation of natural resources. Design through intelligence and consciousness is the only tool we have available right now to create a better, safer, brighter future.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
HC : Design is only a point of view at a particular time and place. Our universe is in constant change and expansion, and so should design be.