When you pick up your April issue of Livingetc, be sure to turn to page 54 and admire the Victoria chair by talented design studio Scott, Rich & Victoria. This tri-named partnership is about as global as they come, being based in London (Richard Hartle) and Auckland (Scott Fitzsimons). How does that work? Let’s find out…
You worked together in London before splitting the partnership across 12 time zones, does the situation tend to create more opportunity than obstacle? We don’t really see living on opposite sides of the world as a negative, as our thoughts are diversified by being influenced by different cultures, experiences, exhibitions, work and ideas.With the internet there is so much dissemination of international design that we (like everyone else) can both be aware of what’s happening, what’s new, trends, materials etc. We’re able to access international manufacturers, covering both Europe and Asia Pacific. We can have a personal connection in both arenas which not many young design companies have. One of the biggest positives is that the time difference forces us to be quite proactive. We are effectively a 24-hour studio. We still discuss our work, projects and exchange ideas as often as possible via phone or Skype. So we often find that we’re actually ahead of schedule, which is a bonus. The studio experiences both summer and winter simultaneously all year round. There’s always someone enjoying a nice day.
The result is your furniture and lighting collection ‘A Year Apart’, what has been its inspiration? There’s been no one thing that’s inspired the collection really. In reality the collection started a couple of years ago now. We were occasionally working together in London between late 2007 and 2009 on a variety of projects. Prior to Scott heading back to NZ in 2009 he appeared with an early concept model of the ‘UNIT24’ lamp. That was the first product, the studio’s starting point. We found/find inspiration for other products in many things; materials, textures, concepts, travel, food, music etc. Daily life really. Our design process is often inspired by fabrication/manufacturing processes, knowing what a material can do means we can work towards its limits. We also like to explore geometry in our work – many of our designs look very simple, but are actually geometrically quite complex. They often have a hidden ‘quirk’ that is only discovered through interaction with the piece.
Do you tend to have a very similar aesthetic? Not exclusively. There are of course elements of commonality in our separate design aesthetics. It wouldn’t be conducive to output if there weren’t. What’s stronger however is a similar manner of investigation. We each see different things in designs, different ways of achieving design resolution, but we usually understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ the other person has explored that idea/aspect/detail. It’s really useful as we can often send drawings and models to each other and without explanation we understand what the other is trying to achieve.
What drives you to design furniture and lighting? I wouldn’t say that we are solely focused on furniture or lighting. Its merely just been the outlet for our investigations to date. But the drive is more about creating, and forging ahead as a studio is important aspect of that. There’s a long list of inactive products in our sketchbooks waiting to surface and a definite desire to get those ideas from sketchbook to physical product.
And what do you love more, the process or the finished piece? The finished piece is obviously very important; it’s a thrill to see the process come to life. But ultimately that is the end result of a design process. As designers, it’s the process and development that we spend the majority of our time working through. Getting the next product, the next idea underway is always the most enjoyable stage.
We’ve got Scott and Rich, but who is Victoria? Ah, yes. The silent partner. Not so much ‘who’ as ‘what’. We both studied industrial design at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Design in New Zealand . It’s where we met, worked on our first projects together, etc. The building blocks of today’s studio.
What’s next for the studio? We’ve got a long list of products in development. Making these a reality. We’ve got a series of lighting projects on the go with both European and US manufacturers. We are pretty busy.
Which other designers do you admire? Richard I’m a fan of BarberOsgerby, they consistently produce work of exceptional quality. And I undoubtedly admire those designers I’ve been lucky enough to work with as it’s given me an insight into thoughts/design processes/projects that have influenced my approach as a designer. Scott The list is too long. Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Inga Sempé, Anderssen & Voll, to name a few. They all produce stunning work.
And, do you have a favourite piece of design? Richard Most ‘favourites’ come and go. I’ve always liked Ron Arad’s MT Rocker and the Hoover building by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners on the A40 in London always makes me smile every time I drive past. Scott It’s always changing for me, too. I could never pick just one. Im really liking the Spline chair by Norway Says at the moment. It’s a beautiful piece.
What do you love doing when you’re not working? Richard A good game of village cricket never goes amiss, especially on a sunny late summer Sunday. Scott Live music has always been a love of mine. Or a few drinks in a park or at the beach on a summers day with a bunch of mates.
What are your own homes like? Richard Frankly, a bit of a mess. Renting in London means I haven’t put down roots in any residence. Currently there are prototypes, collected and gifted furniture, various aquariums, bikes, computers everywhere. I’ve only just got around to getting some fantastic Lee Baker prints onto the wall. My studio space is probably more liveable in reality! Scott I’m much the same actually. Its just 18,000km away. Its a humble little two-bedroom villa in Mt Eden spewing out bits of prototypes, books, my bike, a couple of cameras and Converse Chuck Taylors.
Which blogs do you read? We both skim the design blogs regularly (Dezeen, Designboom, Contemporist, Design Milk etc). They’re a useful way of keeping abreast of what’s happening. Also, Notcouture, FormFiftyFive and It’s Nice That.