01/01/2014

Words with Masters

We ask a group of leading designers about their careers, their inspirations, their thoughts on the current state of design, and their advice for the generation to come.

Interviews compiled by AnnMarie Martin and Adam Moore

 

We here at Interiors & Sources live to celebrate great design and the designers behind it, so when it came time to put together our inaugural “Masters” issue, we knew it wouldn’t be complete without speaking to a few of the visionaries you’ll find on the next few pages. We asked this group of leading designers about their careers, their inspirations, their thoughts on the current state of design, and their advice for the generation to come.

Their responses ranged from the surprising to the subtle, but they also reveal some common thoughts and universal truths of the field. Respect from the industry is nice, but respect from clients is better. Collaborating with others isn’t always easy, but it is necessary. Knowing yourself and chasing the things that inspire you is critical. And whether you’re designing a gleaming bathroom collection or a high-rise, true innovation takes risk.

Head to interiorsandsoruces.com to read extended interviews with these masters, as well as to share your thoughts on the following interviews. What advice from our masters resonates most with you? Tell us at our Facebook or Twitter pages, or in the digital version of this story at bit.ly/wordswmasters.

 M. Arthur Gensler Jr. | Co-Founder, Gensler

As a master of design, what’s one project in your portfolio that really stands out for its innovation?
I have no favorite project. I do believe that when the Shanghai Tower is completed in 2015, it will be considered one of the few iconic towers in the world—not just because of the shape, but because of its sustainability and many other unique factors in the design.

Was gaining notoriety for your work ever a specific goal?
Gaining notoriety with our clients for the work of our firm was a strong goal. I hope people in the profession respect what we do, but they are not our clients.

What kind of office philosophy have you tried to build at Gensler?
Gensler is a very big family. We all work together and support each other; we share the successes and the failures together. We are a “we” firm, not an “I” firm.

What do you think of the youth of today? Are they getting a bad rap?
The youth of today are terrific—talented, hard-working, and committed. They really want to save the world and will do whatever it takes.

Designers today often struggle with making a “personal brand” for themselves. Do you have any advice for them?
There are many ways to participate in the practice of architecture. There is no right or wrong way. “Personal brand” is one approach, but not mine. I believe it takes a team with the complexity of today’s construction process. The aesthetics are just one of many activities needed to create a successful project.

Do you have any advice for fledgling designers?
Get started. Learn all aspects of the profession.  I started for the first year in an office checking shop drawings on one research laboratory building. It was certainly not what I hoped to be doing as a designer, but in hindsight, it was probably the best early training I could have gotten because I learned in detail how a building is actually put together. My future design work got much better.

What’s one thing that will surprise us?
I never have my name on a project. I want the people who do the work to get the deserved recognition, not me.

What was the worst job you ever had?
Being a construction laborer and carrying 2- by 6-foot concrete form panels around a construction site all day.

What’s your number one vice?
I love Rombauer Chardonnay and don’t plan to kick the habit.


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