Interview with Rita Kettaneh

Winner of Furniture Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Rita Kettaneh shares insights


Interview with Rita Kettaneh at Wednesday 9th of May 2018:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
RK : I took a somewhat unconventional path towards design. While I always had artistic hobbies, little did I know the importance of these “hobbies”. I went from studying engineering for my undergraduate degree to working my way through the production chain until I got into entrepreneurship and marketing. This brought me the closest to the end users and allowed me to use design thinking on a daily basis. Then I discovered my passion for furniture design within a workshop, and ever since, I’ve been invested in continuous learning and practice both independently and with the support of some great mentors.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
RK : I feel that there are things to create, that our lives could be more beautiful on a daily basis. We do not need to go far to feel special. Our homes can be our haven. I want to enjoy the pieces of furniture I interact with daily. I want them to mean something to me and to other people. And if through the pieces that I design, I can awaken a feeling in people and create an experience for them, I would be very content.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
RK : I chose to become a designer. Perhaps it was luck or fate that I discovered this passion. But what I know is that the path I took prepared me for this field and that it’s through will and perseverance that I pursued this career.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
RK : I love designing furniture pieces that are playful, and that create a connection with the user.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
RK : I don’t think I’m a design legend per say! I’m very thankful that my designs are being appreciated, but I know that the journey is only starting. I advise young designers to trust their intuition, to trust their ideas and let the ideas guide them. Explore without fear. There is nothing to lose. Patience is key: patience with oneself and respect for the time the process takes. Love your concept and it will flourish. But stay flexible to new ideas or changes to your concept.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
RK : A great designer is flexible and humble enough to accept feedback and to know when to move into another concept. A great designer is a perfectionist even though perfection can never be reached but trying to approach it makes the whole difference.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
RK : Good design performs well on many fronts. It functions very well, intuitively, and safely. It has good aesthetics, the concept is inherent throughout the design and it has novelty. It is feasible to produce and financially viable. These are some of the most important points.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
RK : Good design makes our lives better, more enjoyable and more efficient. It is the reason we can enjoy how we are dressed and it is why we can commute or drive smoothly towards our destination. Design is behind every aspect of our lives and hence it is priceless.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
RK : There is a great deal of masters I look up to. I think Tadao Ando is fascinating, Nendo too, and so is Davide Groppi. This is naming just a few.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
RK : I think practice is essential. Also, continuing to learn and staying up to date with trends and technologies is important.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
RK : My mom. She has always encouraged me. I remember how ecstatic and proud she was when I showed her my first designs. Also, I will always be grateful to my first design teacher who was incredibly supportive and gave me the confidence to pursue this career. He is still an advisor to me today.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
RK : I think that sometimes a longer path is not time wasted but rather an enrichment before reaching the goal. This is how I see the path I took to becoming a designer. My undergraduate strengthened my logic and rational thinking. My hobbies in music, dance, and art allowed me to nurture my emotional, artistic, empathetic side. And then my other professional roles gave me a business perspective.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
RK : Prototyping is key and may require collaborations with specialists as well as some software skills.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
RK : An image is worth a million words. This saying can’t be truer. Good photos can make or break a presentation in my opinion. By good photos, I mean high quality images that explain the design.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
RK : I think that when you interact with an object that has been created with a lot of consideration and dedication, it makes you connect with the designer, maker, and the brand as a whole. The feeling that someone cares is a great one and I find it inspiring.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
RK : The more design is embedded into the core of the business, the more the products will be suited to the end user. Strong collaborations with different teams will allow designers to further utilize cutting edge technological advances in materials, prototyping techniques, and production processes.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
RK : I think it can go both ways. A great design can have a ripple effect within the field, introducing a step change that inspires other designers to ideate along the same path. Alternatively, since good design fits seamlessly into the user’s behaviour and lifestyle, it will need to adapt to new behavioural trends. Another example is when a new technology is made available for designers to explore and utilize.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
RK : These are all so important in consolidating the concept and creating a great experience for the user.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
RK : Of course it is hard. The most important is stay true to your vision and to keep going forward. Recognition is great encouragement and an important step in promoting a design. It involves some luck but there is a quote I like by Thomas Jefferson that says “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
RK : When I was a kid, one of my favourite activities was building objects from big lego-like parts. I was also very good at sketching. I especially liked drawing portraits. Then in high school, I had a preference for physics and spatial geometry.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
RK : I am very thankful for anyone who appreciates my work. Your support is really heart-warming and inspires me to keep making new designs. Sending good vibes your way!