LEGENDARY INTERVIEW

Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer John G Williams ("JGW") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

JGW : I have no formal education in design per se. I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Cambridge in the UK. My father is a retired craft department master and I often browsed through the various reference books that he had at home.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

JGW : I think design is a very creative, and yet also a very practical expression. I think this combination makes it irresistible for me.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

JGW : I chose to spend a lot of time on design, and to learn by observation and by doing.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

JGW : I love designing furniture because it is beautiful; highly visibly; and appreciated on a daily basis

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

JGW : Where does one begin ?

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

JGW : Good design tries hard; great design is immediately 'right'. A great designer realizes the latter.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

JGW : Good design immediately hits all the buttons: does it look great? does it work flawlessly? is it new and exciting? overall, do I love it?

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

JGW : Good design lifts the environment for everyone that touches it or that it touches

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

JGW : A special cart for my daughter to carry her drum kit around in.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

JGW : I am working up to a range of furniture that is all glued together by some common ideas. That remains some way off

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

JGW : To try and distil what it is that is distinctive about the particular work that makes it engaging.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

JGW : Hans Wegner. Poul Henningsen. Louise Campbell

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

JGW : CH33. Simplicity, beauty, comfort. Wishbone chair. Ergonomic insight. PH5 pendant light. Beauty and originality

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

JGW : ZENE. Super comfortable to sit on. Seat and backrest appear to float on the frame, giving a sense of lightness to a structure that is actually super substantive and strong

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

JGW : Read more and look at more work of other designers

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

JGW : I am only a recent designer. In my 50s

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

JGW : Design is about meeting a need. Normally a functional need at least in some measure. In the most aesthetic and engaging manner.

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

JGW : My father

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

JGW : Self-criticism and re-working good to become great

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

JGW : I think they should be presented in precisely the form they intend to be used. That is the environment in which they will be called to shine after all.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

JGW : I think next will be another chair, or possibly the dining table #2. If the chair, then perhaps incorporating leather.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

JGW : To enjoy the next piece

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

JGW : Quality. Attention to detail. Meaning

DL: How does design help create a better society?

JGW : By lifting the corporate mood; by improving our function and/or appreciation of the world around us

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

JGW : Chair #2. I have never worked in leather before so exploring this entirely new craft is super interesting

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

JGW : My first ever coffee table. It was the first real furniture I had ever created.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

JGW : Not sure

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

JGW : More application of tech to realize integrated designs more rapidly

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

JGW : The entire process (with plenty of pauses) probably around a year. But the main design surge probably a week or two.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

JGW : Visualizing the complete piece in my head

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

JGW : Keep it simple, beautiful, functional

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

JGW : Both. They swirl around together

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

JGW : I have a deep background in tech and, possibly for that reason, I barely use it at all when designing! I prefer to engage my hands and build real scale prototypes in my craft shop.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

JGW : A rather blunt 2B pencil

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

JGW : Enormously important. White and black provide great context. But then colour, grain, depth are all very important to me as a wood craftsman.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

JGW : How much can I pay you for one?

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

JGW : I just enjoy looking at it and truly 'seeing' the core components

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

JGW : Yes I think co-design can be very powerful. The ideal partner has similar depth of skill but ideally in adjacent areas

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

JGW : Probably my family have given the most immediate and honest feedback on my work

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

JGW : I like Wallpaper; Fine Woodworking, and Blueprint magazines. And the Dylan Lewis in Stellenbosch guidebook moves me.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

JGW : By trial and error in my craft shop

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

JGW : Family

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

JGW : It is hugely exciting to be an award winner in this my first ever design competition

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

JGW : Grey; Capetown; Thai; Autumn; Land Rover Discovery; Mont Blanc

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

JGW : I remember my young children coming and joining me in the workshop. And gluing together various scraps of wood to create interesting little sculptures. I still have some of them.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

JGW : It all starts with coffee.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

JGW : No

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

JGW : I think things will be totally different to what we expect; and surprisingly similar in other ways

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

JGW : They can contact me on johngriffithwillams@gmail.com

LEGENDARY DESIGNER

JOHN G WILLIAMS FINE FURNITURE ATTEMPTS TO TAKE BESPOKE TIMBER DESIGN AND CRAFTSMANSHIP TO A NEW LEVEL. TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES ARE TAKEN FROM THEIR ORIGINAL CONTEXT AND APPLIED IN DARING NEW WAYS TO GENERATE DESIGNS THAT ARE DISTINCTIVE AND FRESH. THE DESIGNS ARE LUXURIOUS WITHOUT BEING FUSSY – THEY PAIR BEAUTIFUL HARDWOOD TIMBERS WITH ELEGANTLY SWEEPING ASH FRAMES TO DELIVER HIGH IMPACT FURNITURE. THE WORK CAPTURES THE OVERALL LIGHTNESS OF THE SCANDINAVIAN STYLE, WHILE CELEBRATING THE RICH COLOUR AND INTENSITY OF AMERICAN AND AFRICAN HARDWOODS.


Zene Dining chair

Zene Dining chair by John G Williams


Beke Dining Chair

Beke Dining Chair by John G Williams


Beke Kitchen Bar chair

Beke Kitchen Bar chair by John G Williams


Repose Lounge chair

Repose Lounge chair by John G Williams

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