On the sofa with
James founded award-winning, strategy-led creative studio Blond in 2015. Based in the heart of East London, Blond’s team of eight product designers is focused on conscious design, a discipline that dictates that products should be useful (have purpose and positive impact), deliberate (have a strong narrative with no superfluous detail) and aware (leave a legacy for future generations).
Q: What drew you to product design?
As a child I was quite artistic and always building something. Like many designers, I’m dyslexic and never wanted to study something academic – I went to Nottingham Trent University and got a 1st Class Honours in Furniture and Product Design.
Q: What does it take to be a good product designer?
An understanding of manufacturing, a passion for aesthetics, a desire to solve problems, a thick skin and being a good listener and observer. Not necessarily in that order.
Q: What is your process when approaching a brief?
The team works closely using a highly strategic, linear workflow:
- Listen and understand
- Ideate and Innovate
- Support the manufacturer
Q: Who or what are your biggest influences?
Mies Van Der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Bruno Munari to name just a few. I love Hans Wegner’s work – I even have a Wishbone chair tattoo on my arm. However, as I’m a very observant person, I would say that I am more influenced by the world around me. I notice innovations in urban infrastructure in cities I visit for the first time, for example.
Q: Who would be your dream client?
There are many as our work spans so many sectors. In furniture and lighting, I would love to work with Vitra, Hem, Muuto or Flos. My top tech brands are Bang&Olufsen, Sonos and Samsung. And my favourite fashion accessories labels are Nike, Adidas, Rimowa and On Running.