Name: James Bassant
Company: Astro Lighting
Position within company: Design Director
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I grew up in a small village just outside Winchester in Hampshire. I attended Winchester Art School for a very enjoyable Arts Foundation course, then Furniture and Product Design at the highly regarded Kingston University (Polytechnic as it was then). I can clearly identify two very important moments in my career. One was the day John Fearon and I decided to start Astro Lighting. The other was a visiting lecturer who would not accept the student nonsense I was spouting about my final degree project and kept challenging me to articulate clearly what I was designing. I remember feeling very annoyed by her remarks but thankfully the comments made me stop, reassess and lead me to completely change the design. I managed to create my first decent design which was for a sofa that was then chosen for a student exhibition and from this I landed my first design job at SKK Lighting.
How would you describe your personal design style?
Approachable, decorative, modern simplicitity.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
My main inspiration comes from my own enjoyment of the design process. Glimpsing a detail of a building, the curve of a bottle, nature, any of these spark a desire to draw and design a light for the Astro range.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
The main sense of the profession I get is the need for responsibility. Design is an important part of our consumer society and we really need to be responsible to ensure we are not just developing products for the sake of it.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.
Sustainability, does the world need this?
Exciting new materials
Have less but better.
Emotional connection, does it enhance your life?
The joy of simple design
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
I can agonise about how people will respond to my designs but the filter I always apply is “Do I like it and would I have one”? I get huge joy from designing lights that I like and other people do too, it’s a simple human connection.
How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
To be recognised by one’s peers on an international stage is very important and all designers would be proud to win an ID&A award.
What projects are you currently working on?
One of the most exciting projects are our Capsule Collections, products that have the core Astro DNA but have a distinctive and unique style as well.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
I guess my goals over the next 12 years are the same as they have always been; to design lights that allow interior designers and architects to illuminate as well as enhance spaces.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your most treasured possession? My hand-built Roberts bicycle
Your favourite holiday destination? Italy, New York or the Isles of Scilly
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar? Hotel, Castiglion del Bosco, Tuscany. Restaurant, any simple Italian village restaurant. Bar, 67 Pall Mall
Your favourite book, film & song? Film – The English Patient. Book – Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess. Album – that’s very hard so it is both Reading Writing and Arithmetic by The Sundays and In Rainbows by Radiohead
Your favourite food and drink? Fish and chips on a beach. Good Burgundy
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? Cycling through the Kent countryside or anywhere really.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? I have often joked about this with my children and the list so far is: crisp flavour developer, helicopter pilot, gardener.
Astro have been shortlisted for Lighting Piece Award in The International Design and Architecture Awards.
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