Name: Hemal Patel
Company: Studio Hemal Patel
Position within company: Creative Director
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I came to design from a slightly round about route, having studied Product Design and Manufacture at Loughborough University. It was an Engineering degree so it gave me an understanding of manufacturing processes and how items are made. Following that I studied Design, Manufacture and Management at Cambridge University where I was exposed to the entrepreneurial nature of design and how it can be applied to business. This gave me a real thirst for design but after university I struggled to get a job in the industry as I was considered an engineer. So, I worked in manufacturing for a short while making asthma inhalers and components for nappies before I got itchy feet and decided to go it alone in design. I started up a company called HeadSprung where I designed and manufactured contemporary, design-led interior accessories. It was a great spring board into learning about sourcing, quality, logistics, management, etc. Over time I decided to expand into furniture and lighting, so I started Studio Hemal Patel in May 2018. I now use this new company as a vehicle to explore increasingly more creative and high-end design for the contract and commercial markets.
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
I have to admit I am somewhat of a contradiction here because I prefer a contemporary, minimalist design aesthetic, but I’m just too untidy and disorganised to be able to live and maintain such a lifestyle. To confuse things further, the engineer in me firmly believes form follows function, but the designer in me does like beautifully detailed objects. Given all of the above, when I work on projects I always consider how a product or space will be used, and I design around that. Every project is different so my aim is to make the user experience as engaging, seamless, practical and enjoyable as possible.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
My design inspiration comes from many different sources. Sometimes I take cue from nature, sometimes I look at solutions in other industries or markets, and sometimes it is just from meticulous research. I am a firm proponent of the cross-fertilisation and hybridisation of ideas. That is to say, looking to other fields or industries and seeing how they solve analogous problems, and how I can combine ideas and solutions to solve and achieve my current project objectives.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
It’s difficult to say as fads come and go and trends are continually changing but, from a high-level perspective, I would say there are two themes that are playing an increasing importance in the work we do. First and foremost, there is sustainability and green design. As designers we have an ethical duty to consider the lasting impact of our work on the environment and society in large – this is so important for the well-being of the planet and for future generations. Secondly, we are noticing that customers want more customisation and personalisation because they want to stand out and have something different to everyone else. I think that in the future when 3D printers and other rapid manufacturing technologies become ubiquitous customisation will be widely sort after.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2018 and beyond.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
Take time to really understand the intended use of a space so that you can design the best solution for it. Study the flow of traffic through a space, create heat maps to determine which areas are in high use and which spaces are redundant, interview the intended users of the space to determine what they need and want, etc. If you can understand all these things you can design a space that is fit for purpose, with a long usable life.
How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
The International Design and Architecture Awards are very important. Not only is it a great way of promoting our products to a targeted audience, it also allows us to gauge the reaction of people in the know – our industry peers. They are a discerning bunch, and they put so much time into the voting process that their votes are well considered and a true reflection of what’s hot and not. Admittedly, the recognition also helps to massage our egos but, more importantly, it tells us that we are on the right path and that what we are doing is relevant and note worthy and we should keep on going.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are a small design studio with big ambitions, so we are working on a lot of new projects that demonstrate the depth and breath of our abilities. As is the way with these things, some of these projects will see the light of day and others will not, but right now we are planning on releasing a contemporary wingback chair that is a real statement piece, a modular set of stool and (optional) table system inspired by petals of a flower, a contemporary armchair, a cool, geometric pendant light that is designed to hung in clusters, and another pendant light that is inspired by lily pads. Its fair to say the coming months will be very busy for us.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
We are hoping to release a number of new products for the commercial and contract markets that will hopefully put us on the map. We’re a start-up so we want to establish ourselves as a young, vibrant, forward-thinking, strategic design agency that creates and produces beautiful, design-led furniture and lighting for ourselves and our clients. If we can design for some high-end brands and, maybe even, work on high-concept interior design projects that would also be a great result.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your most treasured possession?
Anything my brother has gifted me. He is very generous and has always looked out for me since we were kids, so anything he does for me or gifts me is very much treasured.
Your favourite holiday destination?
I don’t have a single favourite destination. For me it’s all about experiences and as I get older the experiences I seek out seem to change frequently. Last year it was searching out food wherever I went, but this year it’s about getting out and enjoying nature’s beauty both on land and in the water.
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
I don’t have a favourite hotel, restaurant or bar as I like to try new places. I get bored pretty quickly so I like to change things up frequently.
Your favourite book, film & song?
Again, I don’t have a favourite book or song as my likes are quite eclectic and ever evolving. However, my favourite film is Ocean’s Eleven (the remake with George Clooney and Brad Pitt). Its cool and fun, and it was the first film I saw where the soundtrack had as much of an impact on me as the movie. I must have watched the movie a dozen of times and listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times.
Your favourite food and drink?
Being of Indian heritage my favourite food is Chilli Paneer as I love really hot, spicy food (and fried cheese). My favourite drink has to be Mango Wheat Beer, a flavoured wheat beer that is fruity, smooth and refreshing on the palette.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
My favourite way to spend an afternoon has to involve food, drink and a good movie… oh, and maybe a cheeky power nap.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
It would be a toss up between an Architect or a restaurateur… but, if I had to pick one then it would probably be the latter as my gluttony would surely win out.
Anything else interesting?
I love to learn and I spend hours researching projects just for the joy of finding new ways of solving problems or gaining new perspectives on things. I try to be humble and level-headed (though I don’t always succeed) but, most importantly, I always try to put myself in other peoples’ shoes when forming an opinion or making decisions. I guess this is why I became a designer, so that I can look through other people’s eyes and create solutions that solve their problems. I think this is something that sets me apart from the pack.