Designer In Profile: Helen Spencer creative director of eve spencer- for FLOOR_STORY

Name: Helen Spencerhelen_spencer
Company: eve spencer for FLOOR_STORY
Position within company: Creative Director
Website: www.floorstory.co.uk

Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience etc)

I graduated from Central St Martins School of Art with a degree in Fine Art and have over 10 years experience in the creative industry. I founded eve spencer, a British artisanal design company, based in East London, to give me an outlet for my own obsession for design in series, nuanced repeats and for raising eyebrows!

How would you describe your personal interior design style?

The most interesting interiors challenge our interpretation of an environment and define a space and how we interact with it. I’m interested in surprise, or at least a design that gives you pause for thought, just as my work for the FLOOR_STORY designer collection with Thawk hopefully achieves. Surprise can be good, but it’s not just about shock, it comes in a variety of forms and can be full of mystery, perplexity and occasionally fright.

There should always be something arousing, engaging and disruptive that evokes a reaction; Thawk contains such subject matter, making one of nature’s most fearsome insects into something incredibly beautiful; a trick of the mind’s eye, or something that makes you question your senses. At its best, it’s truly distinctive, arresting, emotive and signatory of the designer, becoming part of a space, part of the owner’s story and an expression of themselves.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

My inspiration is a kaleidoscopic arrangement of influences amassed over my 33 years. It’s rooted in nature, which is a wonderful force, both cruel and miraculous. Meanwhile I’m conscious that it’s constantly influenced by trends in colour, art, fashion and design. It’s a mirror I hold up to the world.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

Things move in cycles, some more apparent than others, design equally informs and is informed by such repeating patterns. We have a responsibility to the planet and design with a conscience will stand the test of time. Sustainability is the ultimate harmony.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2015 and beyond

Inquiry – ask the right questions and you’ll find the right answers
Look & see – you can look without seeing but you won’t see without looking – it’s important to seek
Distinction – I’m constantly searching out distinction it’s the essence of my practice
Pause
Make, make, make – mistakes are integral to solutions

How important are the International Product Design Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?

The awards offer a great platform that’s respected within the design industry. A well organised celebration of the best new designs and offer an opportunity for new and established designers to stand side-by-side and showcase the best contemporary products on the market.

What projects are you currently working on?

Beyond new ways of formalising my designs and adding to my collections, I’m also developing an exclusive exhibition at Tramshed this September during the Shoreditch Design Triangle Festival. The exhibition will apply rigorous art curation to my design work to create an experience that challenges and blurs the boundaries between art and design.

What are your aims and goals over the next 12 months?

To continue to embody the sublime and the beautiful with surreal, hyper-real, other-worldliness through my work.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself:

Your most treasured possession?

My imagination and my senses are undoubtedly my most treasured possession. For me, imagination is a key ingredient to the perfect storm, where the magic happens. It’s as much about what is left out, unsaid and unexplained. It’s the trigger and comprehension where my imagination can play happily, that sublime space, that’s where the magic happens. Perception is reality and in the absence of a story, we are challenged to create our own.

Your favourite holiday destination?

Somewhere new every time. I work in repeats because they are infinite and impossible, but you can’t ever repeat an experience, even if you return to the same place. It’s never the same twice.

Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?

My only habit is for discovery itself. I’m constantly searching out the distinction that feeds my design. It’s the essence of my practice and discourse.

Your favourite book / film / song?

I struggle with limits, there are too many too list! Nature is the greatest author. I recently saw Frank by Lenny Abrahamson and I was utterly mesmerised and Bjork is undoubtedly a master of musical invention.

Your favourite food and drink?

There’s a mood for most things, not least food and drink. Lately I have acquired an unusual obsession for fiery jalapeno peppers, but everything is subject to change.

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?

My everyday is part problem solving, part invention, part discovery and part inquiry. I mine for gold and my perfect afternoon takes its own structure.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

If not a creative purist, the other extreme, demolition!

Anything else interesting?

Be extraordinary. On a daily basis we are bombarded with stimulus, it takes something extraordinary to peak our interest and that’s worth aspiring to. It takes bravery to be different and to celebrate differences and uniqueness, but in the end, you don’t stand out by being the same.

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