From Australia to Europe, the United States and Scandinavia, we sit down (virtually) with seven esteemed panel members for the 2021 Archiproducts Design Awards to unveil their thoughts on design, now and in the future.

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Dimitris and Konstantinos Karampatakis

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Dimitris and Konstantinos Karampatakis

K-Studio Co-Founders and Architects

Why did you choose a career in design?

Dimitris and Konstantinos: With our father being an architect, we were exposed to construction from an early age. This strong influence led us to develop an interest and love for the process of creating various construction techniques, as well as igniting the concept of materiality. That essentially took us down the path of studying architecture.

What is your most defining/memorable professional moment?

Dimitris and Konstantinos: Without a doubt, when we decided to start our practice in 2010. That was when the name K-Studio was born. We decided to establish a practice, consolidating a team of talented people with diverse expertise. Starting our practice enabled us to tackle a wider range of scopes to design more holistically, from master planning to architecture, interior and product design. 

The question people always ask us is…

Dimitris and Konstantinos: “Which is your favourite project so far?” and one that remains unanswered! (laughs)

Your favourite design decade/era?

Dimitris and Konstantinos: The design that inspires us is rooted in each culture we visit, with its unique techniques and resources. The 1930s in Europe, the 1950s in the United States, and the early civilizations of Oman are all examples. So I guess the answer is not time-sensitive after all.

In your opinion, what do you believe has been the biggest shift in the global design sphere in the past five years?

Dimitris and Konstantinos: We are thrilled to be observing (and hopefully participating) in a global scene; where emerging talent comes from diverse parts of the world. We no longer have a ‘mecca’ of design and architecture, a design capital to concentrate and showcase a certain trend. But rather different expressions of design emerge from a wider range of cultural backgrounds.

What ideas can we expect to see from the Archiproducts entrants in 2021?

Dimitris and Konstantinos: We are very much looking forward to seeing this year’s entries! We have no idea what to expect from the peculiar year we have just endured, so it will be very interesting to see all the surprising ideas that have been incubated.

What do you see for the future of product design in the next five years?

Dimitris and Konstantinos: We are still hoping to see more resourcefulness in reducing and reusing material built to last. We believe in the ‘good ageing’ of matter and that design needs to be conscious of a long lifespan. Just as the human body ages beautifully, design objects need to respond to the challenges of time. It is our duty as ‘makers’ to act wisely and economically.

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Bobby Berk

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Bobby Berk

Interior Designer, Product Designer and Television Host

Why did you choose a career in design?

Bobby Berk: I’ve always been an extremely visual person, even from a very young age. I was always drawing and rearranging my bedroom to look and feel a certain way. But I didn’t have an idea that I wanted to pursue design as a career. I started working for home furnishing brands, then established my own store, and that’s when my interest began to manifest. Creating spaces was a natural extension of something that continues to bring me joy.

Most defining/memorable professional moment?

Bobby Berk: Being cast as the design expert on ‘Queer Eye’ certainly changed the trajectory of my career and opened up a lot of doors. But the most memorable moment for me would be establishing my design firm. To me, that was the moment I felt like I had “made it” in the design world. Finally, I found where I belonged.

The question people always ask me is…

Bobby Berk: Besides, ‘will you help me design my home?’ (laughs) I get a lot of questions about choosing paint colours and how to know what will look best in a room. My advice is always to take time to test out a lot of options because colours look vastly different depending on light, location, and time of day.

Your favourite design decade/era?

Bobby Berk: Mid-century modern will always hold a special place for me. There were so many iconic pieces created during this period that changed the way we looked at interiors and furniture, with a timeless quality. There’s also versatility to this era of design, and I love being able to incorporate pieces from this period into just about any project, regardless of style.

In your opinion, what do you believe has been the biggest shift in the global design sphere in the past five years?

Bobby Berk: The pandemic has created the most significant shift in design (and life in general). Every designer is re-evaluating how we interact with products and spaces when the world around us is in flux. I believe we’ll continue to see an evolution in how design can help improve our lives and create a sense of security.

What ideas can we expect to see from the Archiproducts entrants in 2021?

Bobby Berk: I’m hoping to see more ideas focused on incorporating health and wellness into design. Pieces that not only look beautiful but also can make you feel better as well. I also expect to see innovations in technology and “smarter” products, from renewable materials to modular design, that can be used in many different ways.

What do you see for the future of product design in the next five years?

Bobby Berk: Sustainability and eco-friendly materials will undoubtedly be a focus. There’s a greater awareness of the environmental impact in the design world. I believe designers will continue to respond to that with innovative solutions. I also feel there will be a demand for more versatility and customisation in furniture, lighting, and accessories.

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Aaron Roberts (left) with Edition Office Co-Director Kim Bridgland

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Aaron Roberts

Edition Office Co-Director

Why did you choose a career in design?

Aaron Roberts: As a child, I was very curious about the world, how things were made. I was always daydreaming – lost in imagination. A career in design is an extension of this fascination, allowing the possibility of shaping new realities and their associated experiential qualities.

Most defining/memorable professional moment?

Aaron Roberts: The realisation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander war Memorial with Daniel Boyd and the NGV architectural pavilion with Yhonnie Scarce were incredibly important for Kim Bridgland (Edition Office co-Director), myself and the practice more broadly. It marked a moment that enabled our work to open a cultural dialogue between communities, furthering opportunities for reconciliation and truth-telling, alongside establishing very important collaborative relationships between the practice and these remarkable artists.

The question people always ask me is…

Aaron Roberts: Why architecture?

Your favourite design decade/era?

Aaron Roberts: Right now. What a pivotal moment. Design and architecture must rapidly shift ideologically towards a focus on sustainability, climate change and social equity.

In your opinion, what do you believe has been the biggest shift in the global design sphere in the past five years?

Aaron Roberts: Again, there has been a real emphasis on how design can respond to environmental and social issues, which should be encouraged and supported. Another obvious shift has been due to COVID-19 and how many of us have had to adapt to new methods of working and communicating. It will be interesting to see how this adjusts the future spatial planning of our buildings and cities.

What ideas can we expect to see from the Archiproducts entrants in 2021?

Aaron Roberts: I would love to see a continuation of creative thinking around the supply, production methods and lifecycle of materials used in design – to better support the finite resources we have available, alongside design that brings joy to our daily lives.

What do you see for the future of product design in the next five years?

Aaron Roberts: Radical re-thinking of material productions moving away from heavy industrial and fossil fuel-based components to biological and renewable systems and production methods.

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Rossana Orlandi

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Rossana Orlandi

Galleria Orlandi, Art Director and Founder

Why did you choose a career in design?

Rossana Orlandi: For passion. A passion that I have always had and one that still pervades my every day.

Your most significant/memorable professional moment?

Rossana Orlandi: Gillo Dorlfles’ visit to my gallery. It was the early years of my gallery’s participation in the Fuorisalone, one of the historic events in Milan Design Week. 

Gillo Dorfles arrived with his team, without any notice. He went through the entire exhibition and commented on each piece, studying it, making historical references, design analyses and comparisons of style. It was a real lecture on design and absolutely impromptu. It was really incredibly emotional and a great honour. 

The question people always ask me is….

Rossana Orlandi: Why did you move from fashion to design? Enough, everyone knows by now! (laughs).

Your favourite decade/era of design?

Rossana Orlandi: Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini, the 1970s; representing creativity in its purest form. 

In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in the global design sphere in the last five years?

Rossana Orlandi: It is with great pride I can say I have been part of it, or in any case that I have lit the fuse with my RoGUILTLESSPLASTIC project, involving the world of design in the recycle, reuse and upcycling of plastic waste, and now industrial waste in general. 

What ideas can we expect to see from Archiproducts participants in 2021?

Rossana Orlandi: Products made from wonderful materials derived from recycling and the upcycling of waste.

What do you see for the future of product design in the next five years?

Rossana Orlandi: I would like to see incredible transformable furniture.  

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Norm Architects designer and partner, Frederik Werner

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Frederik Werner

Norm Architects Designer and Partner

Why did you choose a career in design?

Frederik Werner: It could have gone in many directions but seeking a professional creative career may always have been on the cards.  Choosing a path of design felt natural. The outcome and end product are closely connected to human nature and have a profound impact on our wellbeing – something that has always been in my interest.

Most defining/memorable professional moment?

Frederik Werner: There are many, but one would be visiting the former home, atelier, workspace and gardens of Isamu Noguchi at Shikoku Island, Japan. Especially as we also met his trusted collaborator and stonecutter, Masatoshi Izumi, who sadly recently passed away. One could see and feel the growing respect for, and inspiration derived from, natural beauty and materials throughout their lives.

The question people always ask me is…

Frederik Werner: From people outside the industry: “So, do you produce the pieces yourself?”

Your favourite design decade/era?

Frederik Werner: Being Danish, I favour the 1950s, which we also call the ‘Golden Age’ of furniture design here in Denmark. It was a decade of combined efforts, where the lines between manufacturers, designers and architects were blurred, resulting in new production methods without losing the natural, tactile, and human-centric qualities.

In your opinion, what do you believe has been the biggest shift in the global design sphere in the past five years?

Frederik Werner: Transparency. It is not only us as professional creatives that set demands as to how products are created, produced, or shipped; it is just as much the end customers and clients who now have the chance to follow or redirect the path we are on. This is priceless if you ask me.

What ideas can we expect to see from the Archiproducts entrants in 2021?

Frederik Werner: That they think beyond the visual aspect of a product and remember that the most successful and long-lasting design is something that speaks to all our senses.

What do you see for the future of product design in the next five years?

Frederik Werner: I hope to see an increased interest in looking beyond what is ‘trendy’ and rather focus on the inherent qualities of natural materials to create objects, products, furniture, and architecture. Products that touch us on more than one level and with a long-lasting design language.

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MUT Design Studio co-founders, Eduardo Villalón (left) with Alberto Sánchez

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Eduardo Villalón

MUT Design Studio Co-Founder

Why did you choose a career in design?

Eduardo Villalón: For me, it was always clear that I wanted to become a designer. I always had a curiosity for the creation of the objects that surrounded me.

Most defining/memorable professional moment?

Eduardo Villalón: One of the most exciting moments was the ‘Das Haus’ project in 2020 for the IMM as this was a designer’s dream project; creating something very personal free from any market conditions.

The question people always ask me is…

Eduardo Villalón: Why is the Studio called MUT?

Your favourite design decade/era?

Eduardo Villalón: We really like the rational functionality introduced into the design and the clean graphical lines of the Bauhaus era. These are features that we also like to implement in our own design. On the other hand, the Memphis movement is a favourite with its colourful exploration of materials and shapes.

In your opinion, what do you believe has been the biggest shift in the global design sphere in the past five years?

Eduardo Villalón: Design evolves with society and the context in which it finds inspiration and implementation. One of the prerequisites for designing new products for everyday use is to adapt to human needs. This is why design must always keep up with the evolution of society. The pandemic has forced us to live with fewer resources, so perhaps design will also have something to do with this. We will need to be more creative making the most of what we have. Design is all about imagination, creativity and making the most of the things at hand. In the end, it’s not so different.

What ideas can we expect to see from the Archiproducts entrants in 2021?

Eduardo Villalón: We hope to see a lot of innovative, original, interesting and creative pieces. The past two years have given designers a lot of time to think and to create! We are certain many great ideas and exciting projects were born during the lockdown. Our expectations are high. We will value aesthetic as much as function – good design has to take both into account, merge them and find a perfect balance. 

What do you see for the future of product design in the next five years?

Eduardo Villalón: We think the borders between product design and technology will be more blurred and integrated. That the ecological aspect, as well as the renewable resource, will play a significant part. In addition, we believe local and traditional crafts will have a comeback in product design.

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David Lopez Quincoces and Fanny Bauer Grung

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David Lopez Quincoces and Fanny Bauer Grung

Quincoces-Dragò Co-Founders

Why did you choose design as a career?

David and Fanny: It seems like an obvious answer, but I would say design chose us. For most designers, we believe it is that way. You have a constant desire to create an aesthetic coherence around you and solve functional enigmas all the time whilst working with beautiful materials. 

Your most significant/memorable professional moment?

David and Fanny: One of the most memorable moments was opening Six Gallery together. It is such an experimental hub you never really know what will transpose. In contrast, when we design for clients, things are much more controlled.

The question people always ask me is…

David and Fanny: “How do I solve this problem…”

Your favourite decade/era of design?

David and Fanny: Every decade has something inspirational about it by just being in the past. What time does to objects and materials is somehow always fascinating and charming. We are of course fond of the Italian 1950s style, but we do also love a 1970s and 1980s twist. It’s very subjective.

In your opinion, what has been the biggest challenge in the global design sphere in the past five years?

David and Fanny: We would say in the past 10 years (two years we consider a standstill due to COVID-19) but over the past 10 years there has been a huge transition away from the more corporate interiors, to intimate ones – design that has a very personal and specific narrative.

What ideas can we expect to see from Archiproducts participants in 2021?

David and Fanny: We hope to see sustainable products at the core of designers’ research.

What do you see for the future of product design in the next five years?

David and Fanny: Product design focused on being environmentally friendly.

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