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.
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.
JGW : I think design is a very creative, and yet also a very practical expression. I think this combination makes it irresistible for me.
JGW : I chose to spend a lot of time on design, and to learn by observation and by doing.
JGW : I love designing furniture because it is beautiful; highly visibly; and appreciated on a daily basis
JGW : Where does one begin ?
JGW : Good design tries hard; great design is immediately 'right'. A great designer realizes the latter.
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?
JGW : Good design lifts the environment for everyone that touches it or that it touches
JGW : A special cart for my daughter to carry her drum kit around in.
JGW : I am working up to a range of furniture that is all glued together by some common ideas. That remains some way off
JGW : To try and distil what it is that is distinctive about the particular work that makes it engaging.
JGW : Hans Wegner. Poul Henningsen. Louise Campbell
JGW : CH33. Simplicity, beauty, comfort. Wishbone chair. Ergonomic insight. PH5 pendant light. Beauty and originality
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
JGW : Read more and look at more work of other designers
JGW : I am only a recent designer. In my 50s
JGW : Design is about meeting a need. Normally a functional need at least in some measure. In the most aesthetic and engaging manner.
JGW : My father
JGW : Self-criticism and re-working good to become great
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.
JGW : I think next will be another chair, or possibly the dining table #2. If the chair, then perhaps incorporating leather.
JGW : To enjoy the next piece
JGW : Quality. Attention to detail. Meaning
JGW : By lifting the corporate mood; by improving our function and/or appreciation of the world around us
JGW : Chair #2. I have never worked in leather before so exploring this entirely new craft is super interesting
JGW : My first ever coffee table. It was the first real furniture I had ever created.
JGW : Not sure
JGW : More application of tech to realize integrated designs more rapidly
JGW : The entire process (with plenty of pauses) probably around a year. But the main design surge probably a week or two.
JGW : Visualizing the complete piece in my head
JGW : Keep it simple, beautiful, functional
JGW : Both. They swirl around together
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.
JGW : A rather blunt 2B pencil
JGW : Enormously important. White and black provide great context. But then colour, grain, depth are all very important to me as a wood craftsman.
JGW : How much can I pay you for one?
JGW : I just enjoy looking at it and truly 'seeing' the core components
JGW : Yes I think co-design can be very powerful. The ideal partner has similar depth of skill but ideally in adjacent areas
JGW : Probably my family have given the most immediate and honest feedback on my work
JGW : I like Wallpaper; Fine Woodworking, and Blueprint magazines. And the Dylan Lewis in Stellenbosch guidebook moves me.
JGW : By trial and error in my craft shop
JGW : Family
JGW : It is hugely exciting to be an award winner in this my first ever design competition
JGW : Grey; Capetown; Thai; Autumn; Land Rover Discovery; Mont Blanc
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.
JGW : It all starts with coffee.
JGW : No
JGW : I think things will be totally different to what we expect; and surprisingly similar in other ways
JGW : They can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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